Ten years ago, James Bennet was on a team of journalists from The New York Times who reported from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The daylong event was his idea, said Margaret Low Smith, president of AtlanticLIVE.
“It was for so many journalists a searing and deeply affecting event,” she said.
The day will start and end with a town hall-style discussion, Smith said. Topics throughout the day include a look at what New Orleans means to the people who live there, how far the city has come in a decade and what still needs to happen. Specifically, people at the event will focus on culture, race, housing and education.
“It just seemed like this sort of exquisite portrait of a family and how deeply rooted they are in New Orleans,” Smith said. “They’re expert witnesses as well as being firmly planted and of the city. I just thought it was a beautiful portrait of a family, of a city and its resonance in important places around the country.”
Other panelists and moderators include local journalists such as The Times-Picayune’s Jarvis DeBerry and Mark Schleifstein and Eve Troeh, news director for New Orleans NPR member station WWNO.
Smith knows there’s a danger when national news organizations come into a place with such history. The Atlantic didn’t want to zoom in and zoom out, she said, “but to actually capture something real.”
What happened 10 years ago in New Orleans was a local story, she said, but “it was also an American story and a very important American story.”