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Best of the Web: Analyzing Haiti Coverage

*Noam Scheiber, the senior editor of The New Republic, says that much of the Haiti coverage is “redundant” and worries that the massive media onslaught is further complicating the recovery efforts. He proposes a “disaster pool” to deal with the problem:

“Just like they do for White House coverage, the major (and some not so major) news organizations could draw up an agreement to send a contingent of print, radio, and television reporters to wherever the next global disaster strikes. The participating news organizations could then use the raw material transmitted back to them to fashion their own reports.”

*Kevin Smith, president of the Society for Professional Journalists wants journalists to know their place: “I think it’s important for journalists to be cognizant of their roles in disaster coverage. Advocacy, self promotion, offering favors for news and interviews, injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”

*Historian Joseph A. Palermo is glad Haiti is finally getting some media attention but wants reporters to delve into some uncomfortable questions about the United States’ long and unsavory history in the country. As Palermo writes in Huffington Post:

“Publicizing the catastrophe has generated tens of millions of dollars in relief donations. That’s a good thing. But why were Haiti’s long-suffering people deemed so un-newsworthy before the quake? Passed over in the process have been some uncomfortable truths behind the outpouring of compassion toward the plight of the Haitian people.

For over two centuries the U.S. has been on the wrong side of history in Haiti. It has propped up military dictatorships that enriched a tiny oligarchy at the expense of Haiti’s population. Decades of abuse have created a country with a level of food insecurity on par with Sub-Saharan Africa, a per capita income of about $390 a year, and a sizable underclass forced literally to eat mud to sustain itself.”

*The funny people at The Onion remind us that “4.2 billion people—a full 70 percent of the planet’s inhabitants—could use an all-star benefit concert.” A simple but important message for the stars and the rest of us ordinary beings to keep in mind, especially after all of those camera crews inevitably leave Haiti.

 

Author

Nonna Gorilovskaya

Nonna Gorilovskaya is the founder and editor of Women and Foreign Policy. She is a senior editor at Moment Magazine and a researcher for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Prior to her adventures in journalism, she studied the role of nationalism in the breakup of the Soviet Union as a U.S. Fulbright scholar to Armenia. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she grew addicted to lattes, and St. Antony's College, Oxford, where she acquired a fondness for Guinness and the phrase "jolly good."

Area of Focus
Journalism; Gender Issues; Social Policy

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