Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Media in Haiti

One week, tens of thousands of casualties and countless tears later, print, broadcast and new media around the world continue to focus on the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Collectively, you could say coverage of the natural disaster has been media's finest hour, from the haunting scenes captured by photographers and videographers to countless spoken and printed words.

We can't say the same for the bureaucrats and strategists who have allowed precious water, food and medical supplies arriving daily to be stockpiled while the thirsty, the hungry and the injured desperately await the cavalry.

It is the plight of the poor and the black in post-Katrina New Orleans magnified thousands of times and frustrating beyond words.

Print media has excelled in the aftermath of the earthquake, holding its own in the competition for attention, but something has been missing in the Toronto newspapers - The Big Guns.

We were expecting to see the Globe and Mail's Christie Blatchford, the Star's Rosie DiManno and one of the Toronto Sun's high-profile columnists assigned to Haiti.

That's not to say the Globe and Star teams dispatched to Haiti have not done a herculean job in covering the story day after day. It is just surprising that Blatch and Rosie are not contributing.

As for Sun Media, we would have sent two friends of the Canadian Armed Forces - Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington and Cobourg's ace photographer Pete Fisher - to Haiti , catching a free ride with the troops.

Again, that is not to downplay the words and photos from Ottawa Sun photographer Andre Forget and other QMI contributors dispatched to Haiti.

In the next week or so, there will be fewer Haiti front pages and the coverage will subside, but thanks to the media, we will not forget the people and their plight.

There have been so many visuals from Haiti, but one that stands out was a photo snapped by Gerald Herbert of the Associated Press after Redjeson Hausteen Claude, 2, was rescued from a collapsed home by Belgian and Spanish rescuers.

It is the frame where the boy sees his mother minutes after being rescued. A mother and son reunion that tugs at the heart and speaks volumes for the heroic efforts of rescue teams.

Photographers wanting to know more about Gerald Hebert and his camera techniques can listen to a 2008 interview recorded by Inside Digital Photo while he was on the U.S. election campaign trail.

During the 30-minute interview, Herbert talks about previous visits to Haiti while working for the New York Daily News and Washington Times a decade ago.

He said then that Haiti, inhabited by some of the poorest people in the world, doesn't get a lot of ink and that motivated him to risk the bullets and violence of the dictatorship.

"To me that is the glory of photojournalism - informing people of other peoples' plight."

Little did he know his photojournalism would return him to Haiti for the worst of their prolonged nightmare.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton . . .

The Toronto Sun went with a local earthquake story and photo on Monday.

The Ottawa Sun went with a rescue photo

Calgary stayed the course with an Evil Erupts headline

Edmonton went with the same photo and headline

1 comment:

  1. Surely we can be spared Christie and Rosie's takes this time. Please, God. The people of Haiti have suffered enough without foreign columnists sitting back and expounding.