No, this is not about defamatory media allegations about child sacrifice in the style of the writer Michael Deibert, or even the blatant underreporting of crowds to diminish events in the fashion of a North American paper of record. Neither is this about the parroting of spoon fed US governmental statements in ways that make it impossible to discern where the “reporting” ends and the propaganda starts. Finally, this also does not concern revisionist attempts to turn progressive movements into horrendous dictatorships. Or does it?
A few days ago, The Guardian, a British newspaper with a worldwide readership, posted an online article headlined “Haitian radio journalist shot dead,” concerning the founder of Radio Boukman being gunned down execution style in his car alongside a passenger. Of course my initial reaction was one of empathy and reflection over the dangers of being a journalist or traveling in the vicinity of reporters. I even felt appreciation for having such a newspaper at my online disposal, which could keep me informed about media matters in far-flung places such as Cité Soleil, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. I came quickly to the end of this rather short piece, and there it was: “He [Jean Liphète Nelson] is the first media worker to be killed in Haiti since 2005.“
Remarkably the spelling was right, something that cannot be taken for granted from any newspaper article on Haiti, especially should accents be involved. But, immediately my feeling of gratitude for the information began to vanish. Faint memories of others in the media loosing their lives came back and I realized that Mr. Nelson, very unfortunately, wasn’t the first journalist to die in post-coup Haiti, or after 2005 as The Guardian would have us believe.
1. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
2. Some articles concerning Haiti and the media:
• Hustling for the Junta: PR Fights Democracy in Haiti by PR Watch (1994)
• Enemy Ally – The Demonization of Jean-Bertrand Aristide By Jim Naureckas, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (Nov. 1994)
• Haitian Women Are Out of Frame – And Their Abusers Are Out of Sight by Laura Flanders, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (Jan. 1995)
• US Corporate Media Distort Haitian Events by Kevin Pina, The Black Commentator (Nov. 2003)
• Media vs. Reality in Haiti by Anthony Fenton, ZNet (Feb. 2004)
• Option Zero In Haiti by Peter Hallward, New Left review (May 2004)
• Kofi Annan’s Haiti by Justin Podur, New Left Review (Feb. 2006)
• A Few Notes About “Notes From the Last Testament” by Patrick Elie, Haïti Progrès (Mar. 2006)
• Invisible Violence Ignoring murder in post-coup Haiti by Jeb Sprague, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (Jul. 2006)
• The Freedom of the Press Barons – The media and the 2004 Haiti coup by Isabel McDonald, The Dominion (Feb. 2007)
• U.S. Reporting on the Coup Haiti – How to Turn a Priest into a Cannibal by Diana Barahona, Counter Punch (Feb. 2007)
• Haiti and the Jean Dominique Investigation: An Interview with Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon by Jeb Sprague, The Journal Of Haitian Studies [.pdf] (2007)
• The G184’s Powerbrokers – Apaid and Boulos: Owners of the Fourth Estate; Leaders of the Fifth Column by Richard Sanders, Press For Conversion! (Sept. 2007)
• Michael Deibert and Elizabeth Eames Roebling Attack IPS Journalists Writing on Haiti by Kim Ives, The Dominion (Aug. 2009)
• Haiti and Media Censorship by William Blum, Dissident Voice (Feb. 2010)
• Covering Haiti: When the Media Is the Disaster by Rebecca Solnit, The Nation (Feb. 2010)