To all the journalists who covered Hurricane Harvey:
If you had some role in the coverage of this natural disaster, whether you work for a large cable news outlet or a small local newspaper, I’d like to take a moment to say something you don’t hear very often.
Thank you for warning the people who were in harms way. Thank you for your efforts to get them to take this disaster seriously. Thank you for helping to get people to safety and for showing all of us the devastation left in Harvey’s wake. Thank you for telling us about the volunteer opportunities and the way we could help out, and thank you to those who stepped up and physically helped the people suffering most from this storm.
We live in an age when people don’t respect journalists and don’t understand the value of a free press. That doesn’t change the impact of the work you do and it doesn’t mean you should be any less proud of the work you are doing.
When it comes to covering politics, you are often accused of bias or of selective coverage so much that people don’t necessarily see all the work you do to keep them informed, whether they agree with the information presented or not. In the case of a natural disaster, your role is clear and it is easy to see the importance of what you are doing to keep people informed.
Tomorrow, your audience will probably go back to criticizing you, and many will probably view you as the enemy of the public, if they haven’t started back already. But for right now, hold your head high. Your coverage saved some lives and changed others. Your coverage shined a light on human goodness and inspired people to take care of the neighbors.
Thank you again for being there during our worst fears and for bringing out the best in all of us.