New Book: Oil and Water

Along the Gulf Coast, time frames are often referenced as either pre-Katrina or post-Katrina. However, the natural disaster that appalled the world in 2005 has been joined by another catastrophe, this one manmade—the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill was the greatest environmental and maritime accident of all time.

In less than five years, the Gulf Coast has experienced two colossal disasters, very different and yet very similar. And these two equally complex crises have resulted in a steep learning curve for all, but especially the journalists covering these enduring stories. Including the unique phenomenon of Katrina journalists who reluctantly had to transform into oil spill journalists.

In Oil and Water: Media Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and The Deepwater Horizon Disaster, co-authors Andrea Miller, Shearon Roberts, and Victoria LaPoe explore the media-fed experiences as well as the visuals and narratives associated with both disasters. The authors look at this process of growth from the viewpoints not only of the journalists, but also of the public and of the scientific community. 

Through a detailed analysis of the journalists' content, the authors tackle significant questions: What did we see and hear in the coverage of these events? What knowledge and interpretation can we take away from it?

Oil and Water assesses the quality of journalism and the effects that quality may have on the public. The authors argue that regardless of the type of journalism involved or the immensity of the events covered, successful reportage still depends on the fundamentals of journalism and the importance of following these tenets consistently in a crisis atmosphere, especially when confronted with enduring crises that are just years apart.

Below, Andrea Miller speaks with Eric Paulsen on WWL-TV in New Orleans about the new book and the impact each of these disasters have had on city.

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ANDREA MILLER, Geismar, Louisiana, is associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Her work has appeared in many journals. SHEARON ROBERTS, New Orleans, Louisiana, is a native of Trinidad and a Latin American studies instructor and doctoral candidate at Tulane University. She contributed to Covering Disaster: Lessons from Coverage of Katrina and Rita. VICTORIA LaPOE, Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University. She is the author of the book American-Indian Media: The Past, the Present, and the Promise of Digital.