COMMENTS: Half Way There

NBC has made Hurricane Katrina its signature story over the last 21 months. In the first four months of 2007 alone, only NBC (26 min v ABC 2, CBS 7) spent noticeable resources on the recovery effort. Brian Williams, anchoring from the renovated New Orleans Convention Center, had Martin Savidge and Ron Mott cover the city's rebuilding. Savidge was optimistic, reporting that for the first time since the floods, New Orleans' population exceeded 50% of its pre-Katrina total: tourism is increasing; convention business is increasing--and so are the violent crime rate and scams by housing contractors. Mott filed from Atlanta on a dozen-city billboard advertising campaign encouraging evacuated residents to return. A call center dubbed NOLA Bound is "fielding a flurry of questions from people looking for a starting point."

On CBS, Armen Keteyian followed up on Wednesday's Investigates expose of toxic formaldeyde fumes in FEMA's emergency housing trailers. FEMA Administrator David Paulison testified on Capitol Hill that his agency learned of the polluted indoor air two weeks ago and that the fumes do "not present a health hazard." Keteyian produced internal FEMA documents from March 2006 on tests finding "extremely high levels of the cancer causing chemical." Keteyian quoted FEMA's response that those documents "presented a worst case scenario and that we were misinterpreting the data."


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