Magazine article Nieman Reports

Telling a Tough Story in Your Own Backyard: An Essay in Words and Photographs

Magazine article Nieman Reports

Telling a Tough Story in Your Own Backyard: An Essay in Words and Photographs

Article excerpt

Hurricane Katrina is the most difficult assignment of my almost 29-year career with The Associated Press. Three days after the storm flooded the city, it became very clear that this would essentially be the last story I would cover. There have been only a couple of brief assignments away from Southern Louisiana since August 29, 2005, and there is no reason to believe this will be any different in the future. This story will be years in the telling.

Telling this story has been a challenge from the start. Even though specific challenges it poses have evolved, they never seem to lessen. Logistics, once overwhelming, are now just plain difficult at times, as all of us deal with competing pressures of fixing what is broken in our personal lives (1) and continuing to convey to others what doesn't work in theirs. Usually in our business, we deal with only one of these dimensions at a time, given that our assignments about disaster usually take us far from home. And even if we face danger and discomfort, those we love are safe and cared for, so we're able to approach what we do each day with undivided attention. Living in the intersection of family and work can, at times, feel like an impossible place to be. Both are full-time jobs; each requires daily attention, and each influences the other.

For these reasons, and others, Katrina remains a unique assignment.

From a photojournalist's perspective, the ongoing struggle involves capturing that telling image that conveys the scope of human suffering and destruction. …

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