The Real Value Of Information Is When It’s Out There

I’m sure a lot of you get your New Orleans news via the WaPO, NYT or even nola.com. Please don’t. Most of the national news media clowns love to visit Bourbon Street for two days (or not visit at all) and patronize, cluck in disapproval and kick a struggling city while it’s down, with the occasional nod to real progress. Meanwhile, the local Times-Pravda simply wags its head up and down to our current political cabal and paints flowers, stars and unicorns in the place of real news, with the occasional Breaking Story that is regurgitated hat to most of us. Instead, peruse the veritable cornucopia of information generated by a group of New Orleanians from professors, scientists and lawyers to writers, artists and musicians who share love for our home. If there is anything NOLA-related, you will find it in the online pages of this multi-tasking and hopeful community.

Not only do we know how it is here, we live it everyday and have no reason to announce or hide the news as our PR department sees fit. We write when and how we can, dressed in a business
suit
, birthday suit or beaded bustier, logging into germ-infested public terminals if needed. We blog between guttingour
homes, attending community and anti-crime meetings, public media
gatherings
, protests, contractor fraud, tending to old, sick and new family members, chemo
sessions
, termite infestations, fighting unyielding businessinterests, lost pets, losing work, finding
work
, traveling for work, battling depression, raising money, running all over town, having way too much fun and tending to this hurting city we love. We write
online because we have to – our collective conscience gives us no other
choice. There is no room for an echo chamber, only amplification of
that which MUST be heard and heated discussion of our disagreements.

Example: Our mailing list and blogosphere are currently ablaze with the latest remarks made by New Orleans Recovery Czar, Ed Blakely, to a gathering at the University of Sydney. Here are the actual audio and the New York Times article based on quotes from that speech.

Dr. Blakely, New Orleans’s belatedly appointed Hurricane Katrina
recovery chief, refers to the city’s racial factions as “a bit like the
Shiites and Sunnis,” calls the civic elite “insular,” and says the
newcomers he wants to draw here will be impatient with local
“buffoons.” But unlike other outsiders who come here dispersing
critical thoughts, Dr. Blakely might see his bear fruit. For one thing,
Dr. Blakely, a globe-trotting academic with a long resume, has a
mandate for renewal from Mayor C. Ray Nagin and a city desperate for
leadership.

You could agree with Blakely’s primary and Nossiter’s secondary assessments of this city and stop reading the latest from New Orleans right there. We could, too. I don’t advise it, however, because it’s only part of the story. For, during the midst of the furor over this topic, Becca of NOLASlate piped in and rightly so:

What I find interesting about this thread is that if WE, those of us
who live, write and are active in our communities, have such different
perceptions of what Blakely said, or at least the tone he used, then I
go back to my initial comment. That being that we can never forget what
people outside of here already perceive, have already turned into
foregone conclusions, about the City of New Orleans. 

Through our eSparring, we learn more as do you. How much more Socratic can this get? Blogging, especially at a hyperlocal level, is a tool of active citizen discussion and participation. With the advent of the realization that government and private entities are not going to solve more problems than they create, this is the beginning of our takeover of the reins. The next step is to get this simple interface to the other side of the digital divide, which in my case is four blocks that way across St. Charles Avenue.  These parents, teachers and kids should be talking to us about their days, lives and hopes.

I dream of a day when bloggers are not judged by the color of their
three piece suit but by the content of their posts. Too often is this blessed medium knocked by the last throes of those in a crumbling ivory tower, when it has helped somany get the damned information out where it belongs. As you can tell, information is not a commodity to sell on the nightly news, but a vital necessity for those of us making life-or-death decisions on the real frontline. Money isn’t valuable until spent, information is useless until available.

FYI, Brian, it’s
too warm in New Orleans for a bathrobe and I type this in a bra and
skirt (while my sleeveless shirt is laundered following an encounter with breakfast yogurt)
before I leave to attend French Quarter Festival. Jealous
yet, you overpaid jackass?

Related:The Chicory: No Buffoons;Celcus: Promised You A Miracle;Library Chronicles; The Ed Blakely Adventure Part II

5 thoughts on “The Real Value Of Information Is When It’s Out There

  1. slim says:

    Thanks for all the great links, maitri. May I also humbly suggest new orleans indymedia (http://neworleans.indymedia.org/), Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch (http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/) and Common Ground Collective (http://www.commongroundrelief.org/)?

  2. spocko says:

    I think I have new blog crush! (And I’m not saying that just because of your comment about your attire!)
    Great points and I think the media need to be reminded of it and challenged when they patronize or hold preconceived notions that are incorrect. (Like Media Matters does for conseratives, you can do for Anti-Nola bias)
    And I really think that many hold a few ideas that you can see lurking under the surface of their reporting:
    “We really shouldn’t rebuild. It’s below sea level. Write it off and move to higher ground. It’s not really worth it, economically.”
    And I know you all have been battling those ideas, but I think that we all need to challenge the underlying views that many people have and that I can see in the coverage.
    Another view, ‘Isn’t every thing fixed yet?” And of course on right wing talk radio, “Nola won’t be rebuilt, because of Nagin and “those people”. They often compare NOLA with the people of Mississippi and Hally Barber. To them they are the “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” types (aka conservative republicans) whereas “those people” in NOLA are lazy democrats waiting for government handouts.)
    I think that you (we) should challenge those ideas in the press and especially on talk radio when you see them. I know I do.

  3. Ray says:

    (ahem) I do NOT blog naked.
    I sleep naked. When I blog I put on socks.
    And Maitri is indeed totally crushable.

  4. FYI, Brian, it’s too warm in New Orleans for a bathrobe
    Maitri, my dear, do none of the NOLA bloggers blog in pajamas? Well, NOLA folks were always a little different.

  5. liprap says:

    I go for t-shirts, myself. Can’t be nudeblogging with my little guy around.
    Kudos, Maitri, for all the links. Keep on keepin’ on.

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