Watching "NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams" tonight brought me back to March 2006 and Washington, D.C. where the Radio Television News Directors Foundation held their annual First Amendment dinner. It is a time for broadcasters to strut their stuff; hundreds of people tucked into tuxedo wear, a veritable panoply of penguin wanna-bees.
Sometimes an event just for journalists with a capital J (nice way to say those way too serious about the profession) this event was much more; it was an opportunity to recognize the heroic efforts made by broadcast journalists and our brothers and sisters in print in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I still remember the power of the folks from along the Gulf Coast, riding out the storm and the horror afterwards and tens of thousands of people relocating from home.
I spent a couple hours talking with WWL's News Director Dave Cohen; this link to the Times Picayune story on just what he and other radio/TV pros did during those difficult hours and when those turned into gut-wrenching days, weeks and months comes close to paying full respect to the lifeline he and others became for people who couldn't get answers.
Among those in Washington the year after to pay tribute: NBC's Williams, who reported from New Orleans and other locales back in 2005. He promised that NBC wouldn't forget the lost, the displaced, the relocated; he kept that pledge, along with Cleveland's own Martin Savidge leading much of the network's reporting on the recovery of America's south coast. Marty shared with Ohio's AP Broadcasters this summer what it's been like covering the aftermath of Nature's war on man as well as our wars on our fellow man.
It's very easy to bash the MSM for some of the screwy and goofy stuff we see, hear and read. Many times those of us IN the MSM are hard-pressed not to agree; but Williams and NBC deserve great credit for not only their work two years after Katrina but for their work during the last two years to make sure we don't turn the damaged into the forgotten.