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Aug 31

Reporting Tragedies, Raising Awareness, and Helping People

I got an interesting email from the American Progress Action Fund regarding news reports of tragic events, like the devastation wrought by Katrina.

"Like many of you, for the past 48 hours we have been glued to our computers and televisions, watching this tragedy unfold. We applaud the efforts of our news media, in particular ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC, to cover this story. On these networks, together as a nation, we have witnessed images of rooftop rescues and other amazing acts of heroism – along with moments of great personal tragedy. Hurricane Katrina is a truly important story and by doing a very good job of covering it, our TV news programs are providing Americans and the entire world the information necessary to help make a difference."

"Yet, as we watch in horror, we can't help but think of another tragedy a bit farther away – the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan stemming from the ongoing genocide there. Unfortunately, our TV networks are not doing such a good job informing Americans that 7,000 people are dying every month as a result of the genocide, according to the World Health Organization. Their stories of rescue, of heroism, of personal tragedy, and of survival are not being told."

"And so, when the floodwaters have receded in our homeland, and our fellow Americans begin the process of rebuilding their lives and their communities, we hope that the networks will reflect on the important role they play in keeping us informed of tragedies near and far and will continue to cover real news – important news. We hope that the networks will come to agree: Genocide IS News."

While I'd probably disagree with APAF on other issues, I think the points made here are valid and worth discussing and acting upon. If you'd like to petition network news to cover the slaughter in Sudan, check out BeAWitness.org.

I'll likely come back to that issue later, but right now there's a tragedy on our own soil. If you'd like to make a donation, check out Catholic Relief Services.

"Catholic Charities' niche in disaster relief is to provide long-term recovery work. Based on past disasters, possible long-term services that Catholic Charities may provide include temporary and permanent housing, direct assistance beyond food and water to get people back into their homes, job placement counseling, and medical and prescription drug assistance. To help communities recover from the damage brought on by Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities USA is collecting financial donations that will fund agencies' emergency and long-term disaster recovery efforts."

If you'd rather go through other channels, Rob at UnSpace offers some suggestions. He's also alerting people to Blogger Begging Day.

Hugh Hewitt proposed a unified day of charity blegging on behalf of Katrina victims. Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) suggested Thursday, September 1. N.Z. Bear (The Truth Laid Bear) then offered his talents. Voila: Hurricane Relief Blog Day (aka Blogger Begging Day)! The point of it all is to encourage people to donate generously. Also, by listing trusted charities, blog readers can avoid scams and send their money where they think it'll do the most good.

How to participate:

1) Write a blog post that links to your favorite disaster relief charity.
2) Submit your blog as a Relief Day participant.
3) Consider making a donation. Every little bit helps.
4) Remember that the point of this endeavor is not to get more traffic by exploiting a tragedy. It's to raise awareness and show how blogging can be used to unite people useful and positive ways.

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