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The Neoliberal DelugeHurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism, and the Remaking of New Orleans$
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Cedric Johnson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816673247

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816673247.001.0001

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How Shall We Remember New Orleans?

How Shall We Remember New Orleans?

Comparing News Coverage of Post-Katrina New Orleans and the 2008 Midwest Floods

(p.269) Chapter 10 How Shall We Remember New Orleans?
The Neoliberal Deluge

Linda Robertson

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines how the popular imagery of the black urban poor as lazy, lawless, and ungovernable was readily rehearsed in mass media to frame the social crisis and chaos that enveloped New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It cites the use of another set of semantic narratives to describe the experiences of white working-class residents affected during the massive 2008 Midwest floods. The chapter first explains what is meant by “framing” in news analysis as well as the semantic conventions and experiential reporting used to construct the memory of the flooding in New Orleans. It then considers how and in what ways the Midwest floods can be compared with what happened in New Orleans and how commentators compared post-Katrina New Orleans with the Midwest floods. It also analyzes how right wing pundits portrayed victims of seasonal flooding as latter-day yeoman—hard-working, virtuous, and independent, suggesting that such rhetorical maneuvers are dangerous and undermine honest discussions of inequality in American life as well as the possibility of developing a sense of shared fate among Americans of different regional, ethnic, and class backgrounds.

Keywords:   popular imagery, black urban poor, mass media, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Midwest floods, semantic conventions, experiential reporting, inequality

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