After Earthquake Strikes, Journalists Try to Connect Haitian Readers with Family Abroad

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

In keeping up with the news about the Haiti earthquake, I’ve been following how news organizations have covered the tragedy. Earlier this week, I interviewed some journalists in South Florida to find out what they were doing to best serve their local audience, which is largely comprised of Haitians.

Journalists at The Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel in particular were scrambling Wednesday to send reporters to the scene of the disaster. They were faced with the challenge of reporting on an international tragedy that has affected a place many readers call home. Readers turned to these news outlets for help, asking them to please look for their relatives and give them some sign of hope.

You can read more about how the Herald and the Sun-Sentinel responded to these readers here:

“As news broke Wednesday that the earthquake in Haiti may have killed hundreds of thousands of people, journalists in South Florida scrambled to provide coverage of the devastation. The coverage was especially critical in Miami, which has one of the largest Haitian immigrant populations in the U.S.

“The Miami Herald had sent seven staff members to Haiti as of Wednesday evening. Its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, had sent one reporter to Haiti and two to the Dominican Republic, where many of the relief efforts are taking place. Jacqueline Charles, who covers the Caribbean for the Herald, and Patrick Farrell, who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of lethal storms in Haiti, were among the journalists sent abroad.

“The earthquake has presented South Florida news outlets with the challenge of helping the city’s Haitian population make sense of an international tragedy that has hit all too close to home. At this point, many people just want a sense of connection.

” ‘It’s one thing to get the testimonials of what people are hearing, but to try to connect one side to the other is the thing that we’re most determined to do — but it’s also the hardest thing to do,’ said Rick Hirsch, the Herald’s senior editor for multimedia. ‘In South Florida there’s this wrenching effort to acquire real information and connect with people back home.’ ”


I’m deeply saddened by the tragedy and will continue to keep the Haitian community in my prayers …