Why the thumbs down
Kevin's flickr photo journal of Haiti gets two thumbs down. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the pictures Kevin shows speak louder than any article.
The photo journal does what mainstream journalists usually do when they show Haiti: show the very worst and the very worst *only*. Some would argue that the shock created by the pictures helps bring attention to the problems. Hmmm... only partially. At this point Haiti is dealing with a "helplessly hopeless and darn right cursed" image that MSM tend to feed into. Needless to say, why help the "helplessly hopless"? I almost regret the thumbs up I gave him for the vodoun story because the photo journal will no doubt have more of an impact than the article.
I recently wrote a DR of Congo blogger to ask him if I could use some of his pictures on DR of Congo public transportation on Global Voices. His answer: yes but under one condition: that the pictures not be used to promote what he called "povertyism". I told him not to worry. I knew all too well what he was referring to. Showing misery is one thing. Showing only misery and none of the self-help and hope is another. Can you imagine showing only Harlem's projects to report on New York? Or only the worst banlieues where buildings have no windows to represent Paris? That is just what Kevin Sites does in these pictures.
Call me crazy but "reporting" is not the same as one of those "the cost of a cup of coffee" Sally Struthers ads we're used to seeing on TV. There is something exploitative about the choice of pictures Kevin put in his Flickr photo journal, especially in comparison to the other countries represented on the photo journal.
A good alternative
Consider Martin Baran's recent pictures of Hinche, Haiti. Do they sugar coat anything? No. There is a picture of a smiling woman at a cybercafe, the chief means by which Haitians communicate with their relatives abroad. There is a picture of not necessarily wealthy women eaking out a living the best they can at the market. There are pictures of several local churches and schools. We get to see people *living their lives*, in the thick of the hustle and bustle of their daily routines, despite the terrible odds. Is that a fairer photo journal of the country? I'll let you answer that for yourself.
A recommendation for Kevin
Kevin can make up for this, however by devoting a story or two to a broader cross-section of Haiti's social strata. That would be groundbreaking! How accurate would reporting on the US be if it either showed *just* blacks or *just* whites? How accurate can reporting on Haiti be if it shows *just* one social stratum? Answer that for yourself and be forewarned that very little social diversity has indeed been portrayed in his coverage so far (as always in MSM). So much for "balanced" reporting. But there is still time and HotZones in Haiti can still redeem itself...
Kevin Sites - Kevin Sites - Kevin Sites Watch - Kevin Sites Watch - Haiti - Caribbean
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