In an interview with the Miami Herald’s Editorial Board last week, Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive spoke on a wide range of issues facing the country, including working with the international community on rebuilding, the threat of hurricanes and the weakened state of Haiti’s media.
Below are excerpts of Mr. Bellerive’s comments on the post-earthquake state of Haiti’s media.
To read the Miami Herald’s coverage of the visit and see a video of the full interview, click on this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/16/1684907/prime-minister-haiti-needs-help.html.
Q (Herald Editor Anders Gyllenhaal):
How do you think the Haitian media — which was hit so hard with presses knocked out and radio stations damaged — is doing? How is their recovery going? How well is the collective global and national press delivering in its role?
A (Prime Minister Bellerive):
I’m going to be very prudent. I remember three weeks after the earthquake when we were having meetings every morning with all of the international media … At one point, someone asked me what we were doing for the media. I made a big error in telling them publicly what we did. [Editor’s note: the government committed to buy ads].
I was attacked because of that. I didn’t have to say that. It was like I was buying the media. We help them to do that and more. We’re helping them recover.
Apparently, that is something I don’t have to say openly, so I’m not going to.
Q: You can say it here. It’s different.
A: Yeah, but it’s going to be there also — you’re more tricky. You’re going there to help the media.
We [the government] are helping also because we believe strongly that information is key and that information is going to be what we need to keep unity and what we need to help the recovery.
So we don’t try to control anything or say that they have to give information positively. But they have to give at least true information.
Q: Do you think that is happening now? Is there enough strength in the media to deliver that?
Q: How would you describe what exists versus what ought to exist?
A: In one word — professionalism.
Q (Deputy Editorial Editor Juan Vasquez): You mean, the lack of?
A: Yes, a lack of. Both sides — not just from the media. We don’t have counterparts to talk to them. It is not only their fault. We are not organized to communicate. And as we are not organized to communicate, they inform on what they want to inform and what is easiest to inform.
They don’t have to work a lot to see someone sitting on the street under a tent or tarpaulin with two children who just received food yesterday, but they’re not sure they’re going to receive it today. You put a microphone in front of those people and you ask: ‘Is the government good to you? Is it helping you enough?’
You can anticipate what the answer will be.