Okay, I'll admit it. When I posted earlier about a discussion needed at We Media 2006 about "Christiane Amanpour-style reporting" and its effects on Haiti, I had not the slightest clue who Kevin Sites was. Then Yon Ayisyen blogged about him being in Haiti. Then a friend emailed asking what I thought about it since I had just blogged about "Christiane Amanpour-style" Haiti coverage.
So *is* Kevin Sites a Christiane Amanpour? (You know the I'm-here-screaming-off-the-top-of-my-lungs-in-this-no-man's-land-to- tell-you-about-this -oh-so-helpless-hellish-place-yet-again-sigh-cnn- better-double-my-check-this-time type "coverage" that hardly ever shows Haitian life in its complex truth?) Sigh. Deep breath. So is he? Not sure. One, Yon Ayisyen and many Haitian commentors on the KS blog are actually excited to see KS is in Haiti. Two, I've looked at KS' blog and although the introductory post reads:
I've heard so much about this island nation awash in voodoo and grinding poverty, but I've never set foot on its soil.
there is a decent video story on a Haitian school. He also throws in a video of a man who makes metal art.
Now, in the "our mission " page of the site, it says:
With honest, thoughtful reporting we'll strive to establish Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone as a forum for information and involvement. Users will not only learn about the scope of world conflict, but will find ways to be part of the solutions- through dialogue, debate, and avenues for action.
Okay then Kevin, about the voodoo quote above, we might have used a bit more context seeing as how many (if not most) in your audience think when you are talking about voodoo, you are talking about putting pins in a doll to get rid of someone. If there was ever an area that needed more context and merits a video, it would be that one. Also, it might be a good thing to show the diversity in races and ethnic and social groups in Haiti, for a *long overdue bloody change.*
Can you tell I'm a tad skeptical of the mission? Especially since KS is supposed to only cover Hotzones and his audience is presumably peppered with thrill seekers who will need something to chew on. How is he going to strike that balance in the end? Can he strike that balance?
This is all to say that Kevin Sites and you and me are going to spend lots of time together during his stay in Haiti and that while we will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is *not* Christiane Amanpour, we will make sure to let him know if he turns out to be. Fair enough? Please make sure to post here if anything jumps at you as you follow his coverage, that we may compare notes.
Kevin Sites - Kevin Sites - Haiti - Caribbean - We Media - Kevin Sites Watch - Kevin Sites Watch
Go to news.yahoo.com and click on World News. You'll notice that a region of the world - alongside Europe, the Middle East, Asia - is Kevin Sites. Given that the Carribean isn't otherwise listed, perhaps this is decisive evidence that Kevin Sites is located in the Carribean. (Thanks to Boris for the original Kevin Sites-as-continent observation...)
I have to admit that I have a kneejerk response to personality-centred initiatives like these, especially ones where the image of said personality is plastered on every page.
I'm aware that this isn't a rational response and I'm quite prepared to examine the roots of it, but glancing at this project I'm seeing more Kevin Sites than Haiti (the same way I see more Bono etc). I love the "Kevin's Gear" page too - http://hotzone.yahoo.com/gear.
But like you, Alice, I'm prepared to give KS the benefit of the doubt, and I'll be depending on your expert assessments of the situation.
And maybe one day people will arrive at the point where they can say the word "Haiti" without mentioning voodoo in the same sentence!
thanks ethan and georgia for your comments. you both made me laugh.
I agree that the "voodoo" allusion needed more context and would suggest that it is a fairly lazy use of language. Americans would be rather perplexed if in 2006 someone said that the states was awash in 'apple pie and extreme wealth.' People would concede extreme wealth, but apple pie?
Nonetheless, I would still commend Kevin on his project. It reminds me of a discussion I had with one of my uncles last time I was in Haiti. He talked about how when "jaspora" such as myself came home we were very careful and never going out of "comfort zones" while when white folks came through they rented "jeeps" and were darting through the mountains as if they were in their own backyards. Now here comes someone documenting a very such experience.
"Now here comes someone documenting a very such experience."
True ... except if *all* he focuses on is the part of the Haitian experience that is different from
his audience's lives. There is a balance to strike. On the one hand the Haitian experience should not be romanticized. If it is romanticized, then why should people invest time in change? On the other hand, if it is shown as hopelessly helpless, then again, why should people invest in change? The point is: show people in their complexity. At the end of the day the people eating mud pies in Cite Soleil are like all people. They have a daily routine, they go to work or try to othertwise make a living, they seek out entertainment in their time off (often american tv or movies), they do not see themselves as hopeless and they may or may not mind (like most people) being portrayed in certain ways, many belong to associations or churches...(Do I really need to spell this out?)
But mostly, Haiti is not believe it or not synonymous with Cite Soleil. Cite Soleil is only a fraction of the country. Just like Brazil is not limited to its favelas and New York is not just the projects...
To find the complexity of Haiti's culture, one needs not go any further than read Alice's blog.
Happy May day.
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