Fish or Steak with your Whine?

” Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.” -Jay Leno

When I first read this story I thought, ‘That seems like an odd priority’. So my mind instantly started coming up with marketing suggestions like…

“New Orleans: We’re not as fucked as you might think”

“Come to New Orleans: We’re only averaging 1 homicide every other day”

“Visit New Orleans: Most of our poor black people probably live in your town”

“New Orleans: We ain’t done shit yet”

And that’s fun and all for a minute. Then I started thinking about how maybe the perception I and a lot of people may have about the progress of the recovery being ridiculously slow is just a matter of perception and not really the case. I think early on we all understood that this was going to be a long process, but I personally thought we’d see furious action in the first couple of years followed by progressively less activity following that until things were mostly where they were going to stay at about the 10 year mark. That hasn’t been the case and you start to wonder if we can even do the furious thing now. I know I can’t.

Seems to me the city has already been doing a lot more talking than doing and the idea of another 100K worth of media time for the mayor to spout his racist bullshit might not be a good use for the city’s handful of magic beans. Really, is the idea that the city just doesn’t have outlets for information? I don’t think that’s the case. Locally, the mayor can call a news conference any time he wants to talk about whatever he wants.The mayor didn’t have a problem calling into WWL right after the storm and acting like he had a pair, but now he’s almost avoiding them. Nationally there’s no outlet? That’s not the case either since we’ve just had a couple of events that garnered national attention and the city didn’t do much to capitalize on it unless you count Big Al and his 9th Ward Swingers march. And let’s face it, the mayor knows how to get national attention any time he wants, he just has to start his speeches with: “Good evening White Devils, Evil Crackers, and all my beloved nigglets….” and faster than you can say ‘that’s not what I meant’ you’re on the evening news nationwide.

But I think the most interesting thing is the number of online resources that are out there and not being effectively utilized. A quick comparison of the number of people on Myspace and Friendster before and after the storm suggests a lot of people were pushed online to stay in touch after the storm. I think that’s one of the most understated results of the storm. Though I still think its a little sad that it took something like that for people to crawl out of the 1970s and get on the ball. Unlike television and the automobile, I don’t think computers are a fad.

Check out what a quick look reveals….

New Orleans Online
Nola.com
Wikipedia
neworleans.com
Convention Center
Experience New Orleans
Craig’s List
Indy Media
Port of New Orleans
French Quarter
New Orleans Magazine
Gambit Weekly
Jazzfest
Unified New Orleans Plan

And that’s just from a Google search for “new orleans” so it doesn’t even account for the tv and radio websites or the umpteen million blogs. (For blog results for new orleans you can check technorati.com)

So looking at it with a critical eye, the city has a staff of six full time people at a budget of $620,000 who currently fail to utilize the various forms of media available to them to get information out to the public both locally and nationwide. Does this really necessitate bringing in an advertising firm at another $100K or is there a problem going unacknowledged in the administration? I don’t know, maybe it is the right answer. But this quote is very telling “…communicate that message to our citizens in other cities”. The mayor is still clearly focusing outside the city which I think is exactly the wrong thing for him to do. But I keep hearing that Uptowners and evacuees re-elected the mayor so I guess he’s playing to the largest part of his electorate. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that the city doesn’t appear to be moving forward in part because the mayor isn’t concerning his shiny black head about the city itself, he’s concerning himself with creating the illusion of bringing people back. I say illusion because, to my knowledge, nothing he has ever done directly or indirectly has brought one person back since the storm – but he’s done a hell of a lot to keep people away and drive people away. Why he would do this I have no earthly idea – maybe he’s just lost his fucking mind or maybe he’s a Machiavellian Genius. Either way, it isn’t good. Personally, I’m hoping for the first one – crazy I understand.

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