Make Haiti’s Future Better, Gyllenhaal Asks Editors

Here is an address to the American Society of News Editors delivered on their convention’s opening night Sunday in Washington, D.C., by Anders Gyllenhaal of The Miami Herald. Many of the editors came up afterwards to talk about how they’d like to help. Now our goal will be to spread the word beyond the convention.

We’re all familiar with the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti. With a death toll of 300,000, 1.3 million still homeless, this was the worst disaster of its kind in history. A startling event, and now three months to the day since it happened, life in Haiti remains in disarray.

What you may not know is how the earthquake undermined the country’s press. I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an initiative by ASNE and other media organizations to support Haiti’s journalists and invite you to join what could be one of the most important free press efforts in the hemisphere in years.

Haiti’s media includes a network of radio and television stations, a string of weekly and two national daily newspapers, which were knocked out of operation by the earthquake for a time. A total of 31 journalists were killed and many in Haiti’s large, often freelance press corps lost the basic equipment to do their job just as billions of dollars in aid and reconstruction is arriving.

ASNE, NABJ, Inter-American Press Association, Poynter, IRE, The Miami Herald and Poder magazine have started a campaign to help equip, in some cases house and develop special training for Haitian journalists. A second phase of the project will work to build a local investigative journalism center for Haitian media.

We’re looking for donations, of course, and also equipment – computers, cameras, recorders, new and used, perhaps equipment you have recently replaced and can part with. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for U.S. journalists and other to be a part of this. ASNE is hosting a website — reachable through the ASNE site or at https://haitinewsproject.wordpress.com/ – that outlines the project and includes everything you need to know to donate, to arrange to give equipment or just to sign up to build support and spread the word.

We can be proud of the way our journalism organizations have taken the leadership on this effort, but we are at the very beginning of what’s going to take a long-term commitment. There aren’t many moments when some support from the organizations like ours could help shape the future of a country by bolstering our fellow journalists with a hugely difficult job in front of them. We appreciate for considering being a part of this and anything you’re able to do to help. Thank you.

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