Reminds me of this pack of war paparazzi. I’m well aware that coverage of disasters is chaotic and involves a huge crowd of reporters. Photojournalism isn’t just one photographer out in the middle of nowhere sending back photos, but it shouldn’t be a pack of hungry wolves descending on the latest victim to emerge from the rubble. The world needs to know about disaster and it takes an army of reporters to do that. The pictures from Haiti have likely been the a driving force behind the private and public relief donations. But… I can only imagine how much worse the woman’s disorientation and confusion was made by so many lenses stuck in her face. I get so depressed every time I see a goat fuck. (via Conscientious Redux)
From the sounds of it now, Haiti needs money more than it needs more people on the ground. I’ve read fresh water is running out. Lightstalkers has a bit more info from the ground. Thankfully, text message donations have raised over US$10 million.
Word now comes that (no surprise here) photographers in Haiti face shortages of fuel, water, housing, and food. Here’s an enlightening perspective on untrained volunteers coming to help in Sarajevo during the war and the undue burden they placed on the people they were trying to help.
The very first thing I thought of when seeing this picture was of course Alex Webb’s work in Haiti in 1994, which has multiple levels of importance for this discussion and shows the long oft-complicated relationship between the media and Haiti. Links to Magnum stories don’t seem to persist very well; go to the search page and pick Webb in the “include photographer” section and type “haiti” in as a keyword. Here’s one such photo:
I’m left wondering if there is a difference of context between photographs/photographing man-made disaster (i.e. war) and natural disaster? In some sense I’m less pissed off by this photograph above than similar images from wars, but I’m not sure why. I think it feels less like the photographers are over-inflating the importance of an event (turning something into a press conference) or setting up this scene (or that something is a show being performed for their lenses). It still turns my gut as a journalist (beyond the human level which is most queasy, though I think we sometimes need to repress this as journalists) that there is pack activity like this happening in such a horrible zone. As much as I understand it (these photographers are doing their jobs in my opinion) I still don’t like seeing the sausage being made, probably because I’ve been there myself.
Simply, this is another expression of age-old contradictions and discontents of journalism itself.
This also brings me to some interesting things happening on twitter expressing much the same emotions. Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small is sending out wrenching tweets while she is reporting in Port-au-Prince, including:
Haitians are furious w/ Americans & the West. They yell “fuck you” and “put down your camera & dig” when u drive by. (link)
2late, 2late, they say. I tell myself that i’m doing more good writing than digging, but it’s hard not to agree w/them. Heart wrenching (link)
@ dinner tonite yucky drunken US expats grilling steak & drinking beer, watching 100s of homeless victims sing their pain.THIS IS NOT A SHOW (link)
There will be much more to talk about on the issue of media coverage of this horrible disaster but I think we should wait until we are closer to a conclusion, there is too much more to be done right now. I wish all the photographers heading there (I hear from more everyday; and check out the #haitiphoto) the best and implore them to do honest and compassionate work.
(dual post by Matt and Scott)