Lights, camera, Haiti

Featured, Haiti — By SD Adkins on January 22, 2010 at 13:23

What will happen when the U.S. media interest in Haiti’s tragic story begins to fade? Already, just several days after the deadly 7.0 earthquake, we are beginning to experience the answer. After a few days of televised coverage of the tragic events and devastation, major news organization’s television anchors began to return to media centers in New York and other cities, leaving correspondents to report on the progress of the crisis. Already, in a little more than one week, the stories of human suffering have already fallen from the leading headline to headline number three or four following the news of severe weather in California, the loss of a Senate seat to an opposing party, and a former Senator fathering a child with his mistress.

In the article titled “Media Coverage of Haitian Earthquake Can’t Go There,” that appeared in the Huffington Post on January 18th, author Joseph Palermo asks an interesting question. He notes that the initial media attention on the catastrophe in Haiti successfully created a huge outpouring of support and millions of dollars in relief donations from individuals and organizations worldwide. However, Palermo asks, “but why were Haiti’s long-suffering people deemed so un-newsworthy before the quake?”

Haiti, with its long history of struggles with poverty and instability has largely been ignored in the media. Some problems are the result of negative government policies towards Haiti, other problems are arguably self-inflicted. The answer to Palermo question concerning the plight of the Haitian people before the earthquake may be found in a familiar location – at the intersection of race and class. At that intersection, with the passage of time, action can change into aggravation and compassion can become fatigued no matter how noble the cause.

Using a movie analogy, it’s as if the movie’s director has instructed “lights, camera, action” on the set. Now on our televisions, in our newspapers, on our computers and mobile devices, we begin to witness the tragic circumstances of Haiti unfold in front of our eyes on the world’s stage. As this drama continues, with problems that are complex and not easily solved, the director yells, “fade to black” marking the ending of a scene.  Could it be that both literally and figuratively, we’re fading to black concerning Haiti already? But there’s one problem, these mostly poor and mostly brown and black faces are not movie extras and this is not a movie set. They are real people with real lives that are steeped in poverty and despair who are burying their dead using bulldozers in mass graves approximately 700 miles from U.S. shores.

One might argue that life goes on and the media can’t dwell on Haiti forever. Ongoing debates continue over what Haiti needs most now. Is food and water what’s most needed in Haiti? It is certainly needed. Or, is the greater need for medical care in Haiti? That too is surely needed. But Haiti’s greatest need, which exceeds all others, is the need to not be forgotten.

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Author: SD Adkins (2 Articles)

SD Adkins

SD Adkins is a healthcare industry professional. In addition, she is a freelance writer and blogger. SD holds degrees in Applied Communications and Advertising.

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