Paul Moses, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Marine Park resident, spoke before the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association on Thursday, discussing the media’s lackluster response to Southern Brooklyn’s disaster zones in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“There’s been some brilliant journalism in recent days, but there was a slow start in reporting the extent of the storm’s impact,” said Moses. “I think it’s fair to say that Southern Brooklyn has gotten relatively little media attention.”
Moses said that the citywide press did some stellar reporting, exemplified by stories about the state’s and city’s role in the gas shortage, the Long Island Power Authority’s failures, and the struggles at city housing projects.
But in the first days after the storm, Moses said there were few stories that focused on Southern Brooklyn and Queens, though the press was quick to report in the immediate aftermath at locations like downtown Manhattan, Red Hook, New Jersey and Staten Island. It wasn’t until several days – and sometimes more than a week – that communities like Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay found their way into the newspapers.
Frustrated by the problem, Moses decided to do his first local reporting piece in decades, submitting a story to Sheepshead Bites about the trials Gerritsen Beach residents faced in their recovery efforts.
But media should have been on the scene in these neighborhoods immediately after the storm, he said, in order to convey the most important and useful information for victims and those looking to help.
“In a time of disaster, the journalist’s role is to notify the public of impending danger and to give people the vital information they need, and to tell people where the damage is, and to tell the stories of the people who’ve been affected,” said Moses. “Through what we report on, the public at large finds out where the greatest needs are after the disaster and often will respond accordingly.”
“I really found the overall coverage in the first few days disappointing,” Moses added.