Wrong info can wreck our economy

Published 7:05 am Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear national media,

We thank you for your interest in our wonderful community lately, and we hope you’ve felt the warm welcome we know our area can provide.

We understand that it’s your job to swoop in during times of disaster, and that it simply wouldn’t be possible for you to cover the other great things that occur here year-round. That’s our job, and we gladly accept it.

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However, we do have one simple request — get it right.

Some of you have done this well, telling the complete story of the river’s impact — or non-impact — here.

Others have told stories that, from our perspective, seem almost intentionally misleading.

Implying to the world that Natchez is underwater is wrong and could deliver a fatal blow to our biggest industry — tourism. More than 90 percent of Natchez sits high atop a 200-foot bluff and will, per God’s promise in the days of Noah, likely never be underwater from the river.

So online headlines and TV statements about your reporters “wading into Natchez” are misleading. Further, setting up camera shots from the Adams County Port or the U.S. Coast Guard station only tell a tiny portion of the story. Those places, after all, are supposed to be near the river and are, of course, the first places to flood.

Few homes and even fewer businesses in our entire area have experienced flooding thus far.

Local tourism industry officials began receiving calls weeks ago from potential tourists on the verge of canceling trips here.

Though the river situation is one of worry and attention for local residents, it frankly doesn’t need to be for would-be visitors from around the globe.

Yet, a tourist on the fence about their upcoming summer trip is likely to steer clear of an area the national media says is “flooded.”

No one can control the Mississippi River, but you can control the message being shared with the world about our great community.

Please find it in your hearts to prevent a local economic disaster by simply telling the whole story every time. To those who visited this week and delivered well-rounded reports, thank you; your message will help.