Lack of News Coverage Hurting Gulf Coast, Students Say

In the months since Hurricane Katrina, coverage of New Orleans and its rebuilding efforts have generally dominated the news, but some Ole Miss students affected by the storm are wondering when Mississippi will receive more attention.

At least 231 people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast died as a result of the hurricane, while 67 people are still missing. More than 65,000 southern Mississippi homes are destroyed, and the Red Cross has spent at least $185 million in south Mississippi, but many believe both Mississippi and Alabama have been receiving substantially less coverage in the news.

“New Orleans has a national presence, and people around the country dont see Mississippi,” said Kathleen Wickham, an Ole Miss journalism professor. “Mississippi is more local.”

Ashley Strange, an Ole Miss senior from Pascagoula, said she thinks the lack of media coverage is affecting the morale of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents.

“Some people from Ole Miss have houses that are messed up, and they cant go back,” she said. “The news doesn’t include that, and it feels like were being ignored.”

She said she thinks the small amount of news about Mississippi’s recovery has affected the rebuilding process.

At first no one was shown, and I think people were frustrated and decided to leave, Strange said.

Ole Miss junior Patrice Jones is from Long Beach and said she agrees with Strange that more attention should be paid to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Waveland and Bay St. Louis were hit the hardest. People are literally living in tents in Waveland, Jones said. Rebuilding efforts are definitely affected because people all over the country see New Orleans and private donations will go more to them.

Kyle Widdows, an Ole Miss sophomore from Ocean Springs, said he thinks things are going well, but some plans arent going as good as they should. He also said he believes more media coverage would help.

“More people would see what its like,” he said.

Wickham said she believes that in the upcoming months, Mississippi will be more visible in national media because of its casino industry.

“Mississippi will allow casinos to build on land and not just on the water, and the news will want to see how the state will react,” she said.