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a254: Documenting misery (fwd)
From: Lois E Wilcken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Apropos of recent comments about photos of Haiti's misery, I'd like to
Last night a Haitian friend and I were watching "La Lanterne Haitienne,"
a Haitian television program aired in New York City. A Haitian
journalist was interviewing market women about working in the middle of
garbage heaps. One woman said, "I can't answer you. The smell of the
garbage stops me." He responded, "Then why do you keep working here?"
The friend watching with me was enraged--at the journalist. Referring to
the ti machann, my friend rightfully pointed out, "Li pa gen chwa." The
incident reinforced his feeling that most journalists have little insight
into the dilemma of the people.
I would guess that the market woman answered as she did from an
assumption that the journalist (Haitian but of a very different class
experience) could never fully comprehend what he was investigating, even
though he was apparently doing the good work of exposing a major health
The upshot of stories like this one is erosion of confidence in the
benefits of documenting misery. How unfortunate for the good journalists
out there. And how unfortunate for the cause of communication.
Lois Wilcken, Ph.D
La Troupe Makandal - New York City's #1 Haitian Roots Ensemble
621 Rutland Road, Brooklyn NY 11203
718-953-6638 / email@example.com