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   from the issue of August 24, 2006

Depth report documentary examines natural disasters


What do two disasters - an Indian Ocean tsunami and a Gulf Coast hurricane - separated by eight months and 12,000 miles have in common and how are they different? What can we learn from them? Will we be better prepared in the future?



The answers are contained in a new UNL student-produced documentary film and companion magazine titled "In the Wake of Catastrophe."

At 7 p.m. Aug. 29, the documentary and magazine will debut at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center. The premiere is free and open to the public. The magazine will be available for purchase at the event. A question and answer session with the student journalists involved in the project will follow the showing.

Late in December 2005 nine UNL student journalists and two journalism professors traveled to Sri Lanka, a country devastated by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami. There, they saw and heard first hand how the tsunami affected children, the poor and homeless, religious organizations, the environment, wild animals and domestic pets, the media, global aid and government responses. In March 2006 they traveled to New Orleans to observe the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Throughout the yearlong experience students questioned themselves and their role in the complex, interrelated world.

Starting Aug. 27, the Lincoln Journal Star will showcase some of the students' written work, with stories that examine the government's response in each country, the lessons learned for the two nations and the lasting effects of these two tragedies.

This project is one of a series of international documentaries and depth reports produced by students in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Past projects include an in-depth look at French-U.S. relations (November 2005) and the search for truth about life in Cuba (May 2003).

Faculty who guided the project were Jerry Renaud, professor of broadcasting, and Joe Starita, associate professor of news-editorial.

A list of students who worked on the project is online at



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