Two Weeks from Now: The Katrina Story

I am doing a press and media even in NYC in about two weeks, so I spent some time last night thinking about what the news might be in that period of time. Though strategy teaches us that many events can never be forseen, it also teaches us to look for trends that we can use. In looking at the events surrounding Katrina, we can already see some extremely newsworthy trends: 1. Expect the focus on failure to move from government failures to cased of individual criminal neglect. It now looks like many fewer people died in Katrina than the MSM reporters and the politicians predicted, so few in fact that it is going to become clear that a large percentage of the death are attributable to specific failures by specific individuals to make good decisions regarding those in their care. The nursing home arrests are the start of this trend. Expect questions about the deaths in this hospital to follow. Together, the nursing home and hospital alone account for about 20% of the dead and there were specific people in charge, not Nagin and not Bush. Then expect a flood of indivual stories about old and disabled people who were in some way forgotten or abandoned by their care-givers. Many of these stories will be covered up by the families involved, but the real lesson of Katrina will turn out to be not so much the failure of the government (though the government proved it could not be trusted) but a failure of individuals. 2. Expect more stories to focus on why the levees failed. The city was left relatively unscathed by Katrina. It was the failure of the recently re-constructed 17th Street Levee that flooded the city, not the overtopping of the levee that was predicted, but its complete collapse, that no one predicted, especially after it was recently replaced. Did a grain barge hit it? Was there some sort of corruption invovled in its rebuilding? Again, there are specific people with specific responsibilities that the media, law enforcement, and others will be asking questions about. 3. Expect all the estimates of damage to be downgraded. Expect people to move back into the city sooner than expected. We are already getting a flood of reports (pardon the pun) about the reopenings of the airport, the docks, and parts of the city. About two weeks from now, the story will be about moving the evacuees back into the city. A lot of the insurance companies who have announced big potential losses will be downscaling those losses, making this a good time to buy insurance company stocks that have been hit hardests (full disclosure, I just bought a bunch of MRH, a well-run insurance company who tends to overstate potential losses anyway.) Does the media WANT to tell any of these stories? Not really because they don't particularly play into the message of "those evil politicians are failing us," but there are too many forces, including the insurance companies and lawyers, who will want to get to the bottom of what really happened in Katrina. The only stories that will almost certainly be overlooked because they will sound like racism will be: a. Stories about fraud in getting stuff from charities and the government. b. Stories about looting and the loot from the looting.' c. Stories about corrupt cops who abandoned their responsibility for various reasons, among them looting.