Some Sunday reading on Haiti

It’s been almost three weeks since a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, leading to the deaths of over 150,000 people, leaving hundreds of thousands more injured, homeless or without access to the necessities of life.

Despite the various crises affecting the news media, the response has been immense, especially in Montreal, which has a large Haitian community. The major newspaper chains have sent reporters and photographers (and have now sent relief crews to replace those they originally sent), the TV networks have sent correspondents, almost every TV network in Quebec, Canada and the United States has aired a fundraiser for relief efforts, and Haiti coverage continues to dominate the news here. The question of whether it’s being covered too much was raised over a week ago.

I admit I was a bit surprised by all this attention. I expected major news organizations to send reporters, but not papers like The Gazette, the Journal de Québec or the Toronto Star. After all, it’s not cheap.

But as grateful as I am for all the attention, I’ve started to zone out with the Haiti coverage. Yes, there are lots of orphans, people are desperate, lots of people died. The anecdotes being told by the reporters are touching, but they kind of blend in after the 100th story or so.

Still, even more than two weeks later, there are still some stories worth reading. Here’s a few that have been recommended to me through social media:

  • Sue Montgomery, who left for Haiti shortly after the earthquake for The Gazette, writes about the experience of rushing to a disaster area on short notice. A lot of it is inside journalistic baseball (which makes it perfect for this blog’s readers), but it’s interesting to read just for the little anecdotes, like running outside half-naked during an aftershock, or paying $6,900 for a helicopter ride from the Dominican Republic.
  • Phil Carpenter, the photographer who was sent with Montgomery, also writes about the experience for J-Source.
  • Montgomery, in turn, recommends this piece by Peggy Curran, about the political history of Haiti and how much of a mess the country was in long before the earthquake hit. It’s a good picture of what happened to this country from the time it was discovered by Christopher Columbus to the reign of the Duvaliers.
  • Patrick Lagacé is tired of the bullshit going on in Haiti, from all parties involved. About how Haitians still believe in their country, despite the absolute mess it’s in. About how passive they are. About how the international community still clings to the idea that Haiti has some sort of government.
  • In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof isn’t anywhere near Haiti. Instead, he’s in Congo, where millions have died and gangs of thugs go around killing and raping people, and no one seems to care. He just wishes we paid as much attention to the non-natural disaster there as we did to the earthquake. (He has more on his blog.)

13 thoughts on “Some Sunday reading on Haiti

  1. Heather H.

    Why are you surprised that Montreal newspapers like The Gazette and Le Journal de Scab sent reporters?

    Haven’t you heard about Montreal’s HUGE Haitian community?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I’m not saying they wouldn’t send reporters because the story isn’t important or relevant, but because of financial reasons.

      And the Journal de Montréal hasn’t sent anyone to Haiti. It’s the Journal de Québec that’s sending reporters.

      Reply
  2. John M

    As much as I really don’t care about the french press I did read Patrick Lagace’s article through your link and I gotta garee with it! Enough bullshit…. Give until bleeds people, because the corrupt masses in Haiti need to pad their pockets even more….

    Reply
    1. Maria Gatti

      I presume you mean the francophone Quebec press. Steve didn’t mention Le Monde or Libération.

      Bit of a Blimp? The Natives haven’t learnt English yet?

      As for the Congo story. Steve, as you know around where we live, any Black person unless he or she is obviously English or Spanish speaking (BWI, US tourist or old anglophone Black community southwest of here, Dominican…) is assumed to be a Haitian. Indeed, a Congolese, faced with all the expressions of sympathy about “ce qui se passe dans votre pays” almost thought the average Jacques or Jacqueline knew something about the protracted civil war in both Congos. They are more likely to know about Rwanda due to Radio-Canada journalist Léo Kalinda and his famous, talented and gorgeous nephew Corneille.

      Reply
  3. Shawn

    Yeah, I’m with Heather: at least as far as Quebec media goes. Didn’t know the TO Star had someone there, too, though.

    Reply
  4. Josh

    When a Canwest paper sends anyone outside the country, it surprises me, and it’s a stunner to me that the Journal de Québec would, but last time I checked, the Star was sending reporters elsewhere in the world pretty regularly, and even maintaining foreign bureaus.

    This announcement (http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/439106) is a year and a half old, but indicates that at that time, at least, they had four foreign correspondents. I’m just going to guess that behind the Globe, that’s probably the most of any Canadian newspaper?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Canwest News Service (which is shared by the National Post and Canwest’s other papers) has correspondents in Asia, Europe, Afghanistan, Washington and New York. But they’re more like a wire service. That leaves the Globe and the Star as the only papers rich enough to afford them.

      Reply
          1. Josh

            Well, no. I was just wondering whether there’s any original foreign reporting being done by the Post that someone wouldn’t also potentially find in their local paper.

            Reply
  5. Alex H

    I think the problems of Haiti are that no matter what happens, it is still not going to work out well. It hasn’t taken long for the public to go on rampages, for the people to be calling for the ouster of the president, and to call for the return of Artistide. It’s an amazingly bad situation there right now, only made worse by a people who don’t seem to be able to work together for 10 minutes, let alone the time that will be needed to make this better.

    I am personally shocked to see how many journalists were sent over, particularly by the daily news outlets (newspapers). I can’t help but think in the first couple of days that there were more reporters than humanitarian aid workers on the ground, which is pretty sad.

    Reply

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