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6154: Journalistic stories on Haiti (fwd)
From: Mary Durran <email@example.com>
I too am getting tired of reading posts that blame journalists for the
misperceptions of Haiti in the US.
No journalist is free to write whatever he/she wants, of whatever length for
publication in the mainstream US press. Editors turn down story ideas, cut
submissions dramatically, or simply 'spike' pieces for reasons which have
more to do with space needed for other news stories that unexpectedly crop
up. While I do not doubt the veracity of the post of how heroically the
Haitian medical staff in Leogane worked to provide medical care for the
injured US missionaries, the point is, no journalist wrote a story about it
because it purely and simply is not the kind of story that the editor of a
mainstream publication or agency would publish. This is simply a statement
of fact, not a value judgment.
Why are mainstream publications only interested in publishing a very limited
edition of what happens in Haiti? Because there are other places in the
world apart from Haiti where there are important things happening and space
is limited, and also, most importantly, because detailed reporting on Haiti
does not sell newspapers. Why not? Because the attention span of the
American public is limited, especially when it comes to international
stories. Why is this? All kinds of sociological and political theories
could be put forward - the school system does not encourage enough real
interest in other cultures and politics, the current TV culture, an
inward-looking national culture - to name a few.
The point is, the content of the US media is ultimately defined by those who
pay to read it - the American public and journalists, most of whom are
underpaid, cannot be blamed for their reading habits.
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