"Hiç Yoktan İyidir Ama Hala Yeterince İyi Değil" - Haiti - Better Than Nothing but Still Not Great

02/19/2010 00:00:00

Anderson Cooper's Haiti Reporting: Better Than Nothing, but Still Not Great

Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 4:04 PM

Jeneen Interlandi

It's been two days since Anderson Cooperresumedhis coverage of the crisis in Haiti. The CNN news anchorhas taken great painsto explain his decision to return to the earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince, nearly a month after the quake. "No one should die in silence, and no one's struggle to live should go unreported as well," he said—two, three, four times in thespaceof an hour. Then he had the camerapanto his colleague Sanjay Gupta, who spent several minutes echoing the samesentiments. On Tuesday's show, Sean Penn, who has been in Port-au-Prince helping earthquake victims with his own team of aid workers stopped by—not to detail his organization's efforts so much as to engage in another round of mutual and gratuitous back-patting.

Don't get me wrong, as a reporter who's struggled to cover the situation in Haiti from a desk in New York, I'm boththrilledandheartenedto see any journalist so determined to keep a spotlight on the issue, let alone a journalist asprominentas Cooper—especially given that we are a full month past the initial quake and nowamida Super Bowl, a series ofblizzards, and the coming Winter Olympics.

But as a viewer I wasfrustratedto see that the show's reportedsegmentswere about as long as thetouchy-feelyinterludes, and they weren't terribly revealing at that. At one point Cooper wandered through a tent city narrating the scene with only the briefest of exchanges between himself and the city's inhabitants. At another, Gupta visited amakeshiftTB clinic and tried framing this particular public-health threat as a new one for the people of Haiti. It isn't. Gupta went so far as to stick his microphone in the face of a TB patient—a 20-year-old woman in obvious pain. After explaining that the woman had lost her entire family in the quake and had run out of medicine for her illness, he asked, "How are you feeling?" and then, "Where will you go after this?" After considering those questions, the woman erupted into tears. I mean, come on. How does that help anyone?

It's tough to keep stories like Haiti in the spotlight for more than a few weeks. Not because the story isn't important or doesn't deserve sustained coverage. It is and it does. Butinvariably, audience interestwaned, reporters growweary, and freshanglestart to seem few andfar between. And with most newsroomsconstrainedby budget cuts and staff cuts and the pressure to write only zillion-click stories, consistent in-depth reporting in another country can seem like a mere yesteryearrelicfrom journalism's glory days. But if you're actually in Haiti? Instead of running through a list of clichés about theresiliencyof the Haitian people (even if you admit that they're clichés, as Cooper has doneon air), how about looking into what the Haitian government and international community are doing to clear therubbleor prepare for the coming hurricane season? I'm actually a big fan of Anderson Cooper: he's got a special report coming up on childtrafficking, and I hope that work willrenderthis criticismsuperfluous. (I also contacted his team for reaction to this story, and will post it as soon as I hear something.) I think that by returning to Haiti long after most reporters have left, he has brought a powerful spotlight to one of the world's dark corners. In the days ahead, I just want to see him put that light to better use.


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