Katrina: News & authenticity & the Internet

All the Hurricane Katrina coverage is flashing me back to 9/11 when I lived in California but worked at AOL in Dulles, VA.
I was on AOL Campus soon after the planes hit, and while management sent everyone home, I stayed, volunteering to help out folks in the newsrooom who worked 24/7 for the next 4 days.
Cell phone lines were disrupted all over New York, and the message boards we set up to help folks communicate filled up at the rate of 300 posts per hour at peak. There was this sense we were providing a service no other media could fulfill, the same sense Doc Searls and Jeff Jarvis are writing about today (along with some other themes.)
And yet now it’s the participants who are covering the devastation of their city without any outside help; the first-hand accounts and home-made video have a power the fly-by press is struggling to match.
The sharing and immediacy are profoundly moving as the 4th wall washes away once more.
Related: Hypergene points to CNN presentation/integration of citizen journalism stories and media on their online news pages.
Update: Andy Carvin writes : I’ve just set up a new open blog and mobcast on hurricane katrina,
so people affected by the storm can post blog entries via email and
podcasts from their phones. It’s like what I did during Christo’s Gates
project in Central Park, but a hell of a lot more urgent.