I heard through HAG (eh hem, the Haitian activist grapevine) about a site similar to DH, Koze Ayiti out of the Knight Center for International Media at the University of Miami. It looks like we have the same basic goal of producing original news and analysis about Haiti. But there’re enough differences to make a potential partnership interesting. I hope this find confirms TFTH’s position that post-earthquake media coverage of Haiti is not only unprecedented, it’s different:
Never have I seen such intensive coverage of a disaster response effort. I am not talking about coverage of the disaster itself – images of crumbled buildings and people weeping for their dead and talking heads going on about numbers. I am talking about coverage of aid agencies and issues in the response.
That’s hot. Problems arise with media coverage too (i.e. so much ignorance you want to slap the reporter) so read the full post to get the gist. But all in all, this supposed development is a great thing for aid and government accountability.
Imagine New York City disbursing its budget without input or nary a peep from residents, nor complaint boxes to ensure frustrations and problems are publicly known after-the-fact. That’s largely what the international aid industry is–and that’s not because its beneficiaries don’t complain. No one is typically there to consistently record their complaints and feed them back to the donating American public.
I find that coverage of the aid industry breaks down into three general types: news bulletins (who, what, when, where but very little how, why or is this the best or only decision?); press releases (everything works perfectly, that’s why [insert publication here] is talking about it. duh.) and shrill generalizations (aid workers are selfish overpaid incompetents who aren’t needed and who’re really on all-expenses-paid vacations).
It’s not only that so much media attention is on Haiti, it’s that it’s more diverse. Yes, there’s the mainstream press, bloggers in and outside Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean, community papers like the Haitian Times, and hopefully, more niche news and analysis sites like DH. (Considering DH is at low capacity, I mean the vision of DH not its current reality.)
But what matters is the range of perspectives. Some report on Haiti from a nationalist perspective, others don’t question foreign interventions or decision-making, another group believes in the power of aid, another group doesn’t, etc. All of these lead to smarter and better informed citizens.
It’s neither here nor there if readers disagree with DH’s perspective but I like it very much that out there in the universe, they can access a range on the same issue, event or policy decision.
That’s a really good thing. Gets me all verklempt just thinking about it.