T-G story gains wide attention

Thursday, September 8, 2005

When the Times-Gazette reported Tuesday that some 40,000 bodies may be found in the Gulf Coast as a result of Hurricane Katrina, that astounding estimate immediately spread to other media outlets that were reporting far fewer deaths.

T-G staff writer Clint Confehr's story was the result of an interview with Gowen-Smith Chapel co-owner Dan Buckner, whose business partner, Gary Hicks of Paducah, Ky., was deployed to Gulfport, Miss., to help with recovery of bodies. Hicks is working with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. Buckner is on standby.

The T-G story was read almost in full Tuesday on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show, while the newspaper industry's trade journal, Editor & Publisher, recounted the story in its on-line edition, referring to the number of deaths quoted as "profoundly troubling."

T-G staff writer Brian Mosely posted an excerpt of the story with a link to the original article on the political forum Free Republic, a website with over 200,000 members, many of which have been closely monitoring the tragic situation. The web forum is known to be used for research by radio hosts due to the large amount of information available.

And The Age, the oldest newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, also published the 40,000 figure as quoted by Buckner. The figure for Mississippi and Louisiana -- and not just the 10,000 figure for New Orleans -- was received by Buckner from his partner who heard it during a briefing with officials in the response team in Alabama.