There have been a great number of competent and quite a few gifted journalists who have covered the leak and consequences of the leak that followed the sinking of the Deep Water Horizon at the Macondo underwater feature in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Coast of Louisiana. I will say that I have even seen more than one production that could be called a full-length documentary film. I think many of these people deserve commendation and some deserve censure for their response to this crisis.Even BP itself has spent quite some significant amount of cash collecting and reporting information in various formats and through various people who have differing levels of expertise and candor as regards these events and their consequences. The BP response and other responses are not really so surprising when one considers that at least thirteen human deaths have been tied to these events, billions of dollars in trade and economic effects (including BP stock value fluctuations) can be tied and related to these events. I have seen the disaster covered on ABC, NBC. CBS, Fox, MSNBC, PBS, the BBC, CNBC and many other venues in the electronic and broadcast media. The local and regional broadcast stations have had many significant exclusive stories. Also I have seen the print media from Gannett ( my former employer) as well as many other competitors cover the story. All these people have done work that deserves to be considered carefully by students, critics and practitioners of modern journalism. But none of those people and institutions are the subjects of this blog post.
I want to take an absurdly short amount of time and space to acknowledge the work of Anderson Cooper and his crew and staff on the CNN show AC360. Anderson Cooper has traveled the marshes, formed relationships with Governor Jindal, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nunguesser, Grand Isle Mayor Dave Camardelle and local observers James Carville and his Republican wife Mary. He has taken time to tie into the cultural background stories, the family histories, and the political history. He has kept up a stream of steady reportage of the facts and has spiced that up with interviews of people like Lenny Kravitz and other celebrities who really know the area. He has owned the story and in my opinion has been a significant force in driving better coverage elsewhere.
In a climate where CNN has lost ground to more adversarial and advocacy driven networks like Fox and MSNBC he has found and area where he can bend his lines and not break them in advocating the case of voiceless animals and plants as well as millions of American citizens threatened by this disaster. So I think he has probably helped CNN fight back while being CNN. He has shown how they can still cover a big and long story and that they can do it in the new media environment. So he is adding his own professional quest and knight errantry to that of the people he has chosen to stand beside.
So, before it is too late, I take this chance to salute Anderson Cooper. Good job, Sir. You are one of those we need around more than ever. I hope this leads to new but probably not more important opportunities.