Bringing you Haitian Citizen Media since 2005 http://twitter.com/kiskeacity
It's a dilemma for foreign journalists. We want to go to the places where dangerous things are happening because they're more exciting – and excitement sells stories. But that means most of what we read and hear about from other countries are the riots, the kidnappings, the rapes. It's harder to find stories about the life that happens every single day, in every corner of the globe. Babies are made and born, books are read, food is eaten, music and art are created.
In addition to her contributions to Haitian arts and literature, Oriol was also a fervent feminist, a commitment that was evident in her literature, her non-fiction writing, and leadership of the Ligue féminine d'action sociale. Her important contributions to the feminist movement in Haiti continue to inspire a generation of women in Haiti and the diaspora such as Kettly Mars, Edwidge Danticat, and Myriam Chancy. The former was partnering with Oriol to write an exhaustive anthology of Haitian women.
I really, really wanted to like Mac McClelland’s one-year anniversary article, Aftershocks: Welcome to Haiti’s Reconstruction Hell. Good writing aside however—and the fact that these guys and many of these guys dug it—I have a problem with a 6,000-word piece of journalism that holds no specific office or official to account for Port-au-Prince’s misery upon miseries [...]
That’s like there being a decade-long rape epidemic in New York City and a reporter not asking any public official, why? Followed by, what are you doing about it? Followed by, why aren’t you doing anything about it? — Snow wasn’t removed on time after a huge storm this holiday season and within hours every New Yorker knew the name of the head of the department of sanitation. No reporter would’ve covered that story without answering the main question: “Who f%$ked up?”—and that’s just snow. The same news gathering standard should apply to rape.
Unfortunately McClelland’s, “no one’s in charge” message regarding Haiti is the norm. Foreign journalists and bloggers rarely name officials below the level of Bill Clinton, René Préval, Jean-Max Bellerive or Nigel Fisher. (I recall being pleasantly surprised last year when a real-life mayor of Port-au-Prince appeared during a 60 Minutes segment.)
But bureaucracies —as broken, inefficient, corrupt, overwhelmed, under-resourced, under-staffed or disparate as they may be—exist in Haiti.
Camps have residential leadership structures. Various international NGOs also visit or manage camps. The UN’s International Organization for Migration oversees camp coordination. Then of course there is local government, police and Haiti’s women’s and health ministries as well as the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). Journalists undercut any possibility of public pressure on the cogs within the above bureaucracies when we write them out of our stories… when we write them out of the public suffering for which they are responsible.
But these omissions happen again and again, as is to be expected, when parachute journalists write for parachute readers.