Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti should not fade from the headlines

Nearly three weeks after an earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, a simple tweet provided an all too powerful reminder the devastated country should not fade from the headlines.

Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor and publisher of the Brooklyn-based Haitian Times, highlighted the plight of reporters in his homeland in a blog the Committee to Protect Journalists posted on its Web site. The first sentence provides an all too blunt assessment of the reality on the ground for Haitian journalists and the vast majority of their countrymen.

"The earthquake that rocked Haiti didn't spare anyone, including the media," Pierre-Pierre wrote.

An accompanying caption to describe Reuters' photographer Eliana Aponte's pictures paints an disturbingly ironic juxtaposition.

"Foreign journalists, seen here working in Port-au-Prince, have flooded into Haiti after the earthquake, but the local media is in tatters," it read.

Mandalit del Barco from NPR just discussed the arrest of 10 American missionaries along the Dominican-Haitian border late Friday for allegedly trying to take orphans out of the country during a live shot from Port-au-Prince. Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams and other anchors, however, have returned to their cushy Manhattan studios to cover the story from much more comfortable surroundings. The Haiti earthquake remains the third most popular "hot topic" on, but the only other item on its home page as of this writing was a video clip headlined "Haiti food lines for women only" placed between a report on a woman's missing sister and the Toyota recall.

Anderson Cooper himself lamented to the New York Times more than a week ago the fact people would soon lose interest in this story. Port-au-Prince and its environs, which are roughly a two hour flight from Miami, remains in ruins. The vast majority of their inhabitants continue to endure unimaginable suffering, but partisan Washington battles, Grammy fashions and even the upcoming Super Bowl are among the stories that have sadly begun to push the earthquake victims' plight from the headlines.

The Haitian people deserve far better.

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