Regarding your article on the departure of New York Times reporter, Adam Nossiter, from New Orleans. I can say without reservation that I, for one, celebrated his exit from our city. While there may have been many fair and objective reports by journalists in the aftermath of Katrina, a preoccupation with the descent of the city seemed to captivate the national media, with Nossiter always leading the way. His sensationalism bled into the national psyche, turning Americans against our recovery, frightening potential visitors, driving away many who might consider relocating here. One only needed to hear from friends and colleagues in other parts of the country to appreciate his poisoning of public opinion. “Been reading the Times…”
Nossiter, like his airwave counterpart Anderson Cooper, attempted to weave personal fame from the threads of our demise. I would have expected more sensitivity to our plight from a journalist with local roots but his sensationalistic reporting threatened our recovery at exactly the time when we tried to build public consensus. While I will not deny the truths in some of his reports, in many cases, his pessimistic approach produced uneven tales that are best described as half-truths.
As examples, I found this phrase in his story on a national conference of librarians “What with ever-present evidence of last year’s destruction, crime shooting up, near-daily fires and continuing malaise… . “ His words translated an important and positive event in our recovery, our first major national conference, into yet another negative tale of the city’s stagnation. He even managed to denigrate the return of the beloved streetcar by focusing on the reduction in ridership. More recently, he predicted in the Times that an issue with trash collection in the French Quarter would ruin the upcoming Carnival season, and then failed to report a speedy resolution of the problem well before the season began.
Nossiter’s reporting did significant damage to our reputation and our recovery by reinforcing the agenda of some outside the city who dismissed our rebirth as extravagant or impractical. His so-called commitment to keep us in the American consciousness was poisoned by the tone of his reporting, and in the end, his version of our recovery impeded rather than promoted the city’s rebirth. He is no hero in the story of our recovery.
Well, that didn’t take long