By Alec Ashby
Petal High School
Times Picayune photographer Ted Jackson and his wife agreed that in the event of a hurricane, he would stay behind and cover the storm no matter how dangerous.
During Hurricane Katrina, Jackson, who spoke Tuesday to students at the USM High School Journalism and Multimedia workshop, not only captured photographs but also lived through the chaos surrounding the storm.
Jackson said he bunkered down in the Times Picayune’s office with journalists from the paper as well as those from other cities and The Associated Press who were staying in New Orleans to cover the story first-hand.
“Everyone was at the paper,” Jackson said. “Journalists, photographers, and their families were all piled in as the glass shook from the 100 MPH winds.”
Seeing the massive amounts of flooding and destruction that the early parts of the storm caused, Jackson said that his coworkers decided that they would all pile into the paper’s delivery trucks and evacuate “without actually knowing where they may end up. Aimlessly driving anywhere safe.”
Jackson said when his editor told him it was time to evacuate, Jackson saw a boat floating in the rising waters at the back patio of the paper’s first floor.
“I told myself that if there was a motor or a paddle in this boat, I wasn’t leaving,” Jackson said. “I was taking this boat.”
Jackson found that the only thing inside the boat was a broken broom, which he took as a sign that he was supposed to stay in New Orleans.
After five hours of paddling, Jackson was forced to decide whom he would attempt to rescue, all the while worrying about the safety of his family.
“If I couldn’t save them, I wouldn’t shoot them,” Jackson said in reference to those clinging to life in the floodwaters.
And there was no shortage of people to shoot or save.
When Jackson ventured into the Lower Ninth Ward, found the flooding was so bad that entire families were forced to wade in shoulder-high water or cling to any object that was sturdy or floating.
Jackson spent the next few days bringing photographs of scenes from outlying New Orleans back to the Times Picayune.
Despite the amount of coverage in New Orleans, Jackson said the media failed to convey the devastation of poorer areas.
When Jackson and fellow journalists arrived as the New Orleans Superdome, they were prepared to face looters and rioting, only to see dozens of dead bodies scattered around the perimeter.
Those who were alive were deteriorating quickly from a lack of food and water.
Jackson recalled a young woman who was giving him a tour around the surrounding area where people were taking refuge in tents outside the Superdome.
“We turned a corner and found another group of people gathered around supplies and blankets where (the woman giving the tour) broke down,” Jackson said. “She got on her knees and cried out to the camera ‘Help us please.’
“It was eye-opening to understand that this woman was not asking us or god for help, but she was asking those on the opposite side of my lens.”
Jackson’s coverage of the super storm ended a few days later when he made contact with his family in McComb, Mississippi. He left New Orleans and went to see his wife and family.
Jackson continues to cover Katrina’s aftermath to this day.
Photos by Ana Grace Warren/Pontotoc High School
Video by Kassidy Biss/Ocean Springs High School
By Joshua Walton
Union High School
Southern Miss professor Chris Campbell spoke Friday to participants of the high school multimedia journalism workshop about race and racism in the media.
Campbell is a critical and cultural studies researcher and author of “Race, Myth and the News.”
Campbell said the media slants and cuts stories to provoke biased feelings and create false stereotypes about African Americans. He claimed media outlets often ignore the issue of crime to tell sensational stories of crimes.
“Journalists aren’t telling the story of why violent crimes are so prevalent,” he said. “That’s a problem because it’s not giving us the right perspective.”
During Hurricane Katrina, Campbell said the broadcast news media often painted blacks as animals using words like anarchy and chaos to describe the scenes of New Orleans.
“We live in a society where white is dominate,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the news coverage of Katrina is not out of the ordinary. Many stories involving African Americans are often depicted the same way.
For example, Campbell said the media often call African American protests riots and refer to the protestors as bands of thugs; however, white protests are gatherings of young people or out-of-control parties.
The media makes black people out as innate criminals, he said.
“There are high crime rates in poor black communities, but there are reasons for this and journalist never tell these reasons,” he said. “Building more prisons to deal with crime problems is like building more grave yards to deal with AIDS.”
Campbell explained that American society is not in post-racial period, which he described as time when racism does not exist. He pointed to income statistics to support his claim. He reported that black family income on average is a little over half of white family income.
Campbell also used these statistics to call the belief that society is becoming more anti-white preposterous.
Campbell said as long as biased media fuels racial stereotypes and American capitalism drives the inequality in wealth, America will never be able to reach post-racial state.
Photos by Destiny Thompson/Center Hill High School
By Morgan Badurak
St. Patrick Catholic School
University of Southern Mississippi communication specialists, David Tisdale and Van Arnold, spoke Friday with the students at USM’s Remembering Hurricane Katrina High School Journalism Workshop about the challenges the university faced following Katrina.
Tisdale explained his job as a public relations practitioner during Hurricane Katrina to the workshop’s students.
He said he was responsible for communicating with his faculty and students and telling the estimated time the university would reopen. He was also responsible for letting the public know USM’s intended plan to get the students back to school as quickly as possible.
He also said the university created a committee to raise funds for the students affected by the storm. The fund was to be used as a boost to help victims return to school.
Tisdale was constantly producing works to keep the public updated on what was going on, and when they could expect a date for the University’s reopening.
Tisdale shared that it took approximately two and a half weeks for the Hattiesburg Campus to reopen and about a month for the Gulf Park Campus.
The University was able to regain power quickly because of its efficient communication after the storm. Every day until the power returned, Tisdale would meet with the media to give them situation reports.
Alongside his media reports, Tisdale was in charge of contacting parents and keeping them updated on the status of their students who had stayed on campus during the storm.
Tisdale said he felt that the media played a major role in natural disasters.
“You understand that your role is crucial,” Tisdale said. “You are the liaison. You are just as important as the first responders.”
Tisdale explained to the students that being a PR during the storm was something beyond himself.
“The world wanted to know,” Tisdale said. “Katrina affected every area and every person differently. People wanted to hear their situation.”
Tisdale concluded by telling the students the importance of public relations, especially in the event of crisis.
He shared the plans of better preparation around the university in the event of another disaster, and he encouraged everyone to do the same.
By Asia Harden
St. Joseph Catholic School
Although Sun Herald photographer Tim Isbell experienced Hurricane Katrina first hand, he remembers the storm more for what he saw than what he lived.
Wednesday, Tim Isbell shared his memories of covering Hurricane Katrina with 16 high school students attending a summer journalism workshop at USM through the photographs he took during and after the storm almost ten years ago.
“It seems like as far as the country thinks, it only hit New Orleans,” Isbell said. “There was a feeling on the coast that we were being left out.”
Isbell said he felt a personal responsibility to cover what was happening in Mississippi.
Isbell, who originally thought Katrina would miss Gulfport, said it looked like a bomb hit the coast after the storm passed.
The week prior to Katrina is still clear in Isbell’s mind. He recalls his son playing in his school’s band during a football game and the excitement felt throughout the town with the Hard Rock Café opening.
Isbell was among the last people to prepare his house for what was to come. He did not realize the severity of the hurricane until a police officer told him his house was in an evacuation zone and to leave as soon as possible.
Once Isbell made it clear to the officer that he was not planning on leaving, the officer asked for his personal information so his body could be identified once Katrina took him.
While Isbell survived the storm, the days and weeks following Katrina were tough.
“If you didn’t have the right mind set it can get the best of you,” Isbell said.
It took two weeks to find out that everyone from the paper survived.
While speaking, Isbell displayed photographs of signs found in front of destroyed homes. These signs read, “Blvd of Broken Dreams,” “Keep out or be shot,” “Lawn of the Year” and “Camille who?”
In Gulfport, homes were destroyed, families were separated and the streets were flooded. Isbell got lost in his own town after Katrina because most visual clues were swept away.
“Spoiled food was everywhere,” Isbell said. “I hadn’t had a true bath in three days.”
Isbell recalled many walking people around with blank expressions and staring into space.
Isbell visited Waveland mayor Tommy Longo, who was struggling to cope with the aftermath of the storm.
“I had to sort of help him walk,” Isbell said. “It seemed like his next step would be his last.”
Isbell is proud that Hurricane Katrina only seemed to make his community stronger.
Isbell said the people felt thankful for the things they had. FEMA trails were decorated at Christmas, and turkeys were cooked outside on Thanksgiving.
“If you could say something positive came from it, it was all the volunteers,” Isbell said.
Isbell said Katrina was a defining moment of his, and many others’ careers.
“We tell Katrina war stories,” Isbell joked.
Isbell said that recounting his experience for the students brought him back to 2005.
“I could smell Katrina again, and I could see the brown,” Isbell said. “I don’t think you ever get over it.”
Photos by Micheal Edmonds/Yazoo County High School
Video by Mallory Greer/Yazoo County High School