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Labor Day Media Roundup

It was anything but a relaxing Labor Day weekend for American media. The Chief Justice’s death kept Blackberries abuzzing late into Saturday night and early Sunday morning, and yesterday’s John “Not the CBS guy” Roberts nomination momentarily sent coverage back to Washington before everyone hopped back to the battered Gulf Coast.

Although the coverage of Hurricane Katrina is producing several important news threads–race and poverty, environmental impact, federal bureaucracy, to rebuild or not–the coverage itself is proving to be worthy discussion as well.

So far, Hurricane Katrina seems to have brought out the best in journalism: dogged perseverance, invaluable on the scene reporting from embedded journalists, multi-format coverage in print, television, and online, and a refusal to shy away from tough questions (so what if they’ve maybe, just maybe, gone a bit over board with the celebrities?).

It all causes the BBC’s Matt Wells to wonder, “Has Katrina saved US media?

The USA Today’s Peter Johnson says its brought back media’s adversarial edge.

Our initial assessment is that CNN, qualitatively, is leading the cable networks with its coverage, gritting its journalistic teeth with this story and proving that–when it wants to–it can be the best in the biz (see post below). Their efforts are paying off: Although they still trail Fox, CNN moved from a 0.5 rating before the Hurricane to a 2.0 afterwards (Fox was at 2.3).

What do you folks think? Assuming that, like us, you were unable to glue yourselves away from the television screen all Labor Day Weekend (okay, okay, so it’s also our job….), who do you think is providing the best coverage and why?

Of course, everyone is likely waiting for Mr. Voice of Reason–Jon Stewart–to chime in tonight on the Daily Show after–in a case of bad timing–taking last week off. Reporters everywhere will watch with white knuckles, hoping their coverage doesn’t get ridiculed by media’s Court Jester.

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