Document Type


Publication Date



For this paper on the news coverage of Hurricane Katrina I analyze the original footage of 2005 from the local station WWL-TV1 in New Orleans. The corpus of this analysis consists of footage from the first five days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. From each day two hours of material will be analyzed, which adds up to about 600 minutes of footage. While watching the material a list of questions concerning the content, the language and the images will be used to enable a thorough analysis. Since WWL-TV is a local station that was affected by Katrina directly, the journalists working for this station did not only have to deal with general problems concerning media ethics; these people were personally involved and therefore their coverage was also influenced. The analysis focuses on the news language, the images shown and issues such as the portrayal of race and crime. In terms of language, one has to consider the use of language. Is language used to dramatize, emotionalize or personalize the coverage? What are the consequences of this kind of coverage? Images can also be used to influence people’s perception of what they see on television and the portrayal of people affected by the hurricane can also affect the viewer’s understanding and perception of the event. For this analysis it is instrumental to include the fact that this is a local news station and therefore its coverage varies from the coverage of national television stations since their focus is different.


This thesis was completed with the support of Center Austria at the University of New Orleans.