Charting Its Course
The newspaper has also guided the rest of the media in its reporting on New Orleans. Amoss and USA Today Editor Ken Paulson arranged for 17 executives and top editors at that paper, the nation’s largest daily, to receive tours of the city and detailed briefings from Times-Picayune editors and reporters. Both editors say USA Today‘s coverage changed markedly immediately afterward. And, girding for the onslaught of stories about the second anniversary of Katrina, the Times-Picayune published a lengthy editorial in early August debunking what it called the top three myths about the hurricane and its aftermath.
Amoss says he now has little patience left for reporting that delivers the perception of balance at the cost of understanding.
“We don’t hesitate to zero in on problems and to criticize leaders when they fall short,” he says.
The paper has rethought all of its coverage. Feature writer Renee Peck, who once edited the television section, now writes a column called “This MOLD House.” Her own home was flooded, and then hit by a tornado.
“My first assignment was a re-entry story,” Peck remembers. “What do you do when you’re coming back after the flood? Do you need tetanus shots? Do you need hepatitis (shots)? What do you do if there are snakes in the water?”
These days, business at the Times-Picayune is picking up. The paper is finally making a profit again, and advertisers and readers have returned. Amoss has been given the green light to hire again.
Schleifstein and his wife sold their badly damaged home and moved to Metairie, a nearby suburb. He says he expects to stay at the paper and cover the aftermath of the hurricane for the rest of his career.