‘New Ways to Frame the Mammoth Horror’: Media First Responders and the Katrina Event

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Sara Knox


This article explores the state of emergency following Hurrican Katrina or ‘the Katrina Event’ with reference to the role of media first responders. Throughout the ensuing disaster the performance of the media (including celebrity advocates like Oprah Winfrey, Geraldo Rivera and Kanye West) worked as a mechanism for technical remastery in the face of systemic breakdown. This re-mediation of panic and of the state of emergency shifted attention from the local (that is, from the acts of witness by Katrina’s victims) to national reactions (as figured by advocates of the cause of the neglected poor of New Orleans). In this way even as voice was given to the failure of the nation to rise to the needs of its most vulnerable citizens, the figure of the nation as carer was re-instantiated in the televised outrage and frustration of talk show hosts, news anchors, and charity fund-raising celebrities.

Article Details

Panic (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Sara Knox, University of Western Sydney

Sara Knox teaches in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of Western Sydney. She is author of Murder: A Tale of Modern American Life (1998). Her novel The Orphan Gunner (2007) was short-listed for the regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.