Friday, 22 January 2010

Re Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who turned down an opportunity to become Surgeon General in Barack Obama's White House, is another CNN journalist working both sides in Haiti.

Gupta. 40, has been putting down his pen to provide medical care in deplorable conditions for more than seven days and nights, Twittering his experiences along the way.

The National Post's Kathryn Blaze Carlson caught the complexity of Gupta's journalist/doctor/Tweeter assignment alongside Anderson Cooper in Haiti this week.

As noted by Carlson, Gupta, an American brain surgeon, is not alone in the dual efforts.

"CBS' Jennifer Ashton wears scrubs and has reported from a clinic in an airport cargo building, and ABC's Richard Besser was filmed delivering a baby in a park."

What we haven't read in the first eight days of earthquake coverage is how media reps are being housed and fed; their mode of transportation; whether they are providing medical supplies and food and water while on their daily treks?

Yesterday, Gupta reported on how he went to the airport with a cameraman and left with a small bag of medical supplies for a local clinic. Why didn't they leave with numerous bags?

We've been watching daily television reports on a seniors home with about 40 residents in dire need of food, water and medical attention. Are reporters returning with bottles of water and other supplies?

The world is watching and frustrated as hell by the lack of a swift, coordinated effort. It is a disturbing shortfall in humanitarian aid.

Tonight's televised financial aid efforts might suffer from continuing coverage of millions of dollars worth of supplies sitting at the airport while thousands of Haitians die from lack of medical care, food and water.

Perhaps media reps have done their jobs too well in highlighting the daily plight of Haitians while befuddled Haitian, United Nations and American chiefs work on the "logistics" of aid distribution.

You would think there would be more clarity in the American effort following Katrina and all of the post-Katrina debacle analysis.

How about helicopters, helicopters and more helicopters within the first few days to airlift skids loaded with medical supplies, water and food?

And Americans should be humble enough to take notes from Canadians, Israelis, Cubans and others on natural disaster relief needs and response times.


As one observer said early in the coverage: "Just because you are poor and black, it doesn't mean you are dangerous."

There has been violence, but deprive anyone of water and food for a week . . .


  1. I applaud the journalists with medical training who are pitching in to help out. Nothing wrong with that.

    Otherwise, one of my biggest concerns about this whole relief effort from the very start was this: Who's in charge?

    The UN? The NGOs? Or the Haiti government?

    My biggest worry was that it might be the Haiti government, which obviously wasn't working well before the ground started shaking. I doubt if it would have had the infrastructure to co-ordinate ... anything.

    As for the UN, well, they can be bogged down in bureaucracy and logistics.

    I'll be honest with you - I don't know if the Israel and Canada and Cuba should be instructing the Americans on anything.

    The truth is, the US military should be in charge and should have been put in charge at the very beginning. Yeah, yeah. The U.S. botched Hurricane Katrina. But that was a FEMA operation.

    But the U.S. military is great at quickly responding to disasters elsewhere on the globe. They've got the ships. They've got the manpower.

    Hurts a bit to admit it, but it's true. The big tsunami a few years back proved it - the U.S. Navy and the Australians arrived to help WAY sooner than the U.N. did and they got things handled quickly.

    I would have been a lot more comfortable if, a couple of days after the earthquake, if the UN said "OK, U.S.A., you're in charge until we get there."

  2. I heard a piece on NPR today about media coverage of Haiti, and it said that CNN had 75 staff in the country producing its coverage, while network news operations had 40 or 50. There was a writer interviewed from The New Republic who was advocating that there be pool coverage for natural disasters like this, so that only a small number of reporters would be on scene to provide coverage that would be shared, thus freeing up resources and spots on airplanes for relief workers etc. An interesting idea