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U.S. Accused in Haiti's "Economic Quake"

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writers Rush to Fill in Blanks on Nation's History

70% Say They Are Talking About Haiti With Friends

Ebony-Jet Photog Dudley Brooks Blogs From Haiti

Reporters Who Aid Victims Raise Ethical Questions

Black, Hispanic Kids Increase Media Consumption

Tiger at Sex Addiction Clinic? Paper Won't Pursue It

Reporters Eye Civil Rights-Era "Cold Cases"

Reporter John Cater, 32, Dies After S. Africa Trip

Timothy R. Brown, Former AP Reporter, Dies at 35

Short Takes

A blogger dubbing himself "Brown Man Thinking Hard" recounts U.S. actions in Haiti over the years. In "Media Promotes Flawed Haiti Narrative," he wrote, "I'm glad I was able to help in my own way to contribute to a better understanding of the actual circumstances which predate the horrific calamity unfolding in Haiti." (Video)

Writers Rush to Fill in Blanks on Haiti's History

Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh might believe that, "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the income tax," but a growing number of bloggers and other writers are publicizing an alternative account of Haiti's history. It places much of the responsibility for Haiti's economic plight on Americans and other Westerners, particularly their governments and businesses.

One such account aired Wednesday on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" whose host, Amy Goodman, broadcast from Port-au-Prince. She was accompanied by Kim Yves, who has been described as both a journalist and a Haitian-born Canadian social justice activist with a Web site and radio show in Ottawa, Canada.

"This earthquake was preceded by a political and economic earthquake with an epicenter 2,000 miles north of here, in Washington, D.C., over the past 24 years," said Yves, who is traveling with Goodman.

"We can say, first of all, there was the case of the two coups d'?©tats held in the space of 13 years, in '91 and 2004, which were backed by the United States. They put in their own client regimes, which the Haitian people chased out of power. . . .

"And just to be clear, when you talk about the two coups, the one in 1991, the one in 2004, both were of them . . . led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide," Goodman said.

"But along with . . . these political earthquakes carried out by Washington were the economic earthquakes, the U.S. policy that they wanted to see in place, because Aristide's government had a fundamentally nationalist orientation, which was looking to build the national self-sufficiency of the country, but Washington would have none of it," Ives continued. "They wanted the nine principal state publicly owned industries privatized, to be sold to U.S. and foreign investors.

"So, about 12 years ago under the first administration of Ren?© Pr?©val, they privatized the Minoterie d'Haiti and Ciment d'Haiti, the flour mill, the state flour mill, and the state cement company. Now, for flour, obviously, you have a hungry, needy population. You can imagine if the state had a robust flour mill where it could distribute flour to the people so they could have bread. That was sold to a company of which Henry Kissinger was a board member. And very quickly, that flour mill was closed. Haiti now has no flour mill, not private or public."

GOODMAN: "Where does it get its flour? This is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

IVES: "It has to import it, and a lot of it is coming from the United States.

"The other one is - and even more ironic, Amy - is the cement factory.

"Here is a country which is mostly made of limestone, geologically, and that is the foundation of cement. It is a country which absolutely should and could have a cement company, and did, but it was again privatized and immediately shut down. And they began using the docks of the cement company for importing cement. So when we drive around this country and we see the thousands of cement buildings which are pancaked or collapsed, this is a country which is going to need millions and millions of tons of cement, and it's going to have to now import all of that cement, rather than being able to produce it itself. It could be and should be an exporter of cement, not an importer."

Ives continued that the same battle over privatization extended to the telephone company. 

[On the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists on Friday, Haitian native Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of, wrote, "I would caution people on the Democracy Now /Kim Ives version of events in Haiti. Their narrative is that Aristide was a saint, wrongly ousted by the U.S. 

"I have tried a number of times to convey to Amy Goodman and her team the doubts that many Haitians felt about Aristide's second term in office, the evidence that his family was reaping huge benefits from contracts.

"The U.S. has done a lot of stupid things in Haiti but there is also another side: what Haitians have done to each other. I was never able to get past her screeners and other more nuanced views of Haiti are rarely heard on her show.

"For a strong academic view of events and history in Haiti, try Robert Fatton, a Haitian who is professor of political science at the University of Virginia. He's hardly an apologist; he uses the term 'predatory government' to describe Haitian governments before and after Aristide."] [Added Jan. 23]

70% Say They Are Talking About Haiti With Friends

"Americans have been highly focused on the massive earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12. Not only is the disaster clearly the public's top news story, fully 70% say it is the story they are talking about with friends," the Pew Research Center reported on Wednesday.

"The public is not only closely tracking news from Haiti: In the days following the quake, 18% report they or someone in their household made a donation to those affected by the earthquake, while another 30% say they plan to donate. Americans took full advantage of new technologies to give to the victims of the earthquake. While 39% of those who gave made a donation in person, 23% gave on the internet and 14% gave via text message; by comparison, 12% gave by phone and just 5% made their donation through the mail.

"More than one-in-ten Americans (13%) - including 24% of those younger than 30 - say they have gotten or shared information about the Haiti earthquake through Facebook, Twitter or another social networking site. The same percentage (13%) has sent or received email about the disaster while 6% have sent or received text messages about Haiti.

". . . The internet has played an important role for many Americans getting information about events in Haiti. Roughly three-in-ten (31%) say the internet has been their main source of news about the earthquake. This compares with 21% who cited the internet as a main source of news about Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and just 5% who cited the internet when asked where they got their news following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"Fewer (18%) say they have gotten most of their news from newspapers. After Katrina, far more (35%) cited newspapers as their main source of information.

"Television remains, far and away, the dominant source of news during crises or disasters. Nearly seven-in-ten Americans (69%) say that television has been their main source of news about the earthquake in Haiti. But this is lower than the roughly nine-in-ten who cited television as their main source of news about Katrina (89%) and 9/11 (90%).

". . . About eight-in-ten Americans give the press excellent (35%) or good (46%) ratings for coverage of the earthquake. These are higher marks than the press got for its initial coverage of Hurricane Katrina (28% excellent, 37% good) in 2005. But such high ratings are not unprecedented. In the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 56% said the press was doing an excellent job covering the story, and another 33% said it was doing a good job."


A man negotiates the wreckage in Port-au-Prince. (Photos by Dudley M. Brooks/


Ebony-Jet Photog Dudley Brooks Blogs From Haiti

Brooks wrote about being on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic: 'There were no available rooms, but I was invited to camp out on the poolside grounds with dozens of other photographers, writers and reporters who also have no place else to stay.' "Downtown Port au Prince was packed with people this morning - as usual," Dudley M. Brooks wrote Wednesday for the "Big Ideas" blog on

"Many of the buildings are piles of concrete now and today's pre-dawn tremor (registered a 6.1, a quake in my book) didn't do much to calm the tension.

"Disaster does strange things to the human psyche and it takes a person out of their normal state of mind. Folks are desperate and they need the basics - food, water and shelter, plus anything else that they think they could use. The police call them looters, but they're scavengers really. They're looking for a way out of this madness that's been thrown at them - through no fault of their own. They crawl into the downed buildings, grabbing anything within easy reach. They ignore structural damage, and the possibility of a collapse, to battle over ragged pieces of cloth. It's sad really. To lose everything in the blink of an eye is heavy."

Brooks, who arrived at Johnson Publishing Co. in 2007 as a veteran of the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, started the blog on Sunday. "He's the only staffer on the scene. His work will be posed on, in JET and EBONY magazines," Johnson spokeswoman Wendy E. Parks told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

Reporters Who Aid Victims Raise Ethical Questions

"As they cover the devastation and relief efforts in Haiti, American television reporters who are also trained medical professionals are often stopping to give medical care. In the process, they are creating stories with themselves as central players," David Folkenflik reported Wednesday for National Public Radio, in one of several stories on the phenomenon.

"Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News helped a very young woman get to a hospital for a complicated birth. Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC gave a man treatment for infection in hopes he would survive long enough for a lifesaving amputation. Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN gave care to an injured baby and tended to other desperate patients at a hospital one night while other doctors slunk out.

"While many viewers may cheer, that's giving pause to some media and medical ethicists, who say it can distort both the journalism absorbed in the U.S. and the care delivered in Haiti.

" 'What disturbs me about the media doctors is that they are basically pulling telegenic people out of the queue and giving them exceptional resources,' says Dr. Steven Miles, a medical professor and bioethicist at the University of Minnesota."

Black and Hispanic youth consume nearly 4¬? hours more media daily than white youth. (Credit: Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Black, Hispanic Kids Increase Media Consumption

"With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation," the foundation said on Wednesday.

". . . Substantial differences in media consumption emerge between White youth and Black or Hispanic youth, with the latter two groups consuming nearly 4¬? hours more media daily (13:00 of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 for Blacks, and 8:36 for Whites).

"The difference between White and minority youth is largest for TV: Black youth spend an average of 2:18 more per day with TV than White youth. The only medium where there are no racial or ethnic differences is print.

"Race-related differences in media use have grown substantially over the past five years. In 1999 and 2004, Black and Hispanic youth spent substantially more time than their White counterparts using media, but the disparity has doubled over the past five years for Blacks, and quadrupled for Hispanics.

The report also said, "both Black and Hispanic youth spend more than twice as much time viewing TV on these new platforms "- such as the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and on-demand media - as whites.

"Black youth are more likely than White youth to live in homes where the TV is left on most of the time, even if no one is watching (54% vs. 43%), and both Hispanics and Blacks are more likely to report the TV on during meals (78% for Blacks and 67% for Hispanics, vs. 58% for Whites).

"There are very few significant differences between children of different races in the likelihood of their parents imposing rules about how much time they can spend with media. There are, however, quite a few more differences in the likelihood of parents imposing rules about media content - that is, which TV shows their kids can watch, which video games they can play, and so on. In general, parents of White children are more likely to attempt to impose controls on content."

Tiger at Sex Addiction Clinic? Paper Won't Pursue It

National Enquirer ran this photo.  'It certainly looks like' Tiger Woods, Sports Illustrated writer says."Is it Tiger Woods? Your guess is as good as mine. It certainly looks like him. The shiny new sneakers. The little ankle socks. The skinny, almost delicate, forearm," Michael Bamberger, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote Wednesday on

"The round, muscular (since 2000) shoulder. The athletic slouch. The effort to conceal himself. (Who wears the hood of a hoodie, over a baseball cap, but not the hoodie itself? In weather warm enough to wear shorts?) The face. Yep.

"Tiger Woods in a clinic for sex addiction in Hattiesburg, Miss. Not a likely sentence, but real life has a way of playing tricks on you. Anyway, that's what the National Enquirer is saying. Consider the source. They usually have things dead-to-rights."

The local newspaper, the Hattiesburg American, however, wrote Sunday that Woods deserves his privacy and that it would not pursue him.

"Since Saturday, the American has not published any reports on Woods possibly being here," the paper said.

"And, unless there is some confirmation from the clinic or Woods himself, we don't intend to assign a reporter/photographer team to this story.

"If something happens that warrants coverage, we'll have it.

"There is a fine line between covering Woods when he wrecks his car and extending coverage when and if he gets treatment.

"Where does news end and privacy begin, even if the person involved is one of the most recognizable faces in the world?"

Reporters Eye Civil Rights-Era "Cold Cases"

The Berkeley, Calif.-based Center for Investigative Reporting Tuesday announced the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, "an unprecedented collaboration, bringing together the power of investigative reporting, narrative writing, documentary filmmaking and interactive multimedia production to reveal the long-neglected truths behind scores of race-motivated murders, and to facilitate reconciliation and healing.

"Our reporters are reopening and investigating several cold cases - producing important evidence that prosecutors have used to build criminal cases against killers and conspirators who have walked free for more than 40 years. The reporting and filmmaking team includes John Fleming, Jerry Mitchell, Stanley Nelson, David Ridgen, Ben Greenberg, Pete Nicks, Hank Klibanoff, Melvin Claxton, and others.

"The project is led by the Center for Investigative Reporting, Paperny Films and public television station in New York, and also involves the National Security Archive, National Public Radio and leading law and journalism schools. Support for project to date has been provided by Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Open Society Institute, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

Reporter John Cater, 32, Dies After S. Africa Trip

John CaterJohn Cater, a freelance reporter who worked at WSB-TV Channel 2, died Tuesday at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta's WSB-TV reported.

Cater was 32.

"His mother told our news-partners at the Post-Gazette that John became sick after returning home from a recent trip to South Africa," Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV, where Cater had been an anchor and reporter, reported.

Tenisha Abernathy, president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, in which Cater was active, said Cater had developed a high fever.

AABJ said on its Web site Tuesday, "The AABJ board has been in contact with John's mother, Gloria Randolph. She has informed us that John's remains will be sent to Illinois Wednesday morning. His funeral service will be held this weekend." Cater was from Chicago.

In 2007, when Cater left Pittsburgh, where he was morning anchor on WPCW and a reporter for KDKA-TV, Rob Owen wrote in the Post-Gazette, "Cater, who's been at KDKA/WPCW for almost four years, said he's been working without a contract since February. He said the duopoly station offered him a new contract, but he wants to try something new. His ultimate goal is to have his own production company and maybe make reality shows.

"'I watch a lot of TLC and HGTV, shows like "Flip This House," ' Cater said. 'Those are the types of longer-form things I'd like to move towards.' "

WSB-TV reported that, "In addition to working at WSB-TV in 2007-2009, Cater also worked at WXIA and WGCL.

"A graduate of the University of Illinois, Cater won an EMMY award in June 2009 for his live reporting on WSB-TV Channel 2."

Cater also worked in Jackson, Miss.

Timothy R. Brown, Former AP Reporter, Dies at 35

"Timothy R. Brown, a reporter and editor on the staff of The Associated Press for more than a decade in Jackson, Miss., has diedin Dallas. He was 35," the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun-Herald reported on Wednesday.

"Brown left the AP in August to take a public affairs position at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"His wife, Jacqueline, said Brown became ill Monday and was hospitalized in Dallas for tests. She said he died Tuesday. An autopsy was being performed.

"He joined the AP as an intern in May 1996 and became a full-time staff member that September.

"Timothy was low-key and polite, but smart and quick-witted. His success as a journalist was a great source of pride for me since he was one of my first students as an adjunct journalism instructor at Jackson State University," said Robert Naylor, the former Jackson, Miss., bureau chief and now director of career development for the AP in New York.

". . . Brown's work in Mississippi included coverage of major sporting events and breaking news stories such as the collapse of telecommunications giant WorldCom and the fight by catfish producers in the South to limit the import of catfish from Vietnam. He also covered reports on decades of clerical child abuse in the Catholic church in Mississippi.

"Brown was the Jackson bureau's broadcast editor, working closely with the Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters Association. His work included establishing the MAPBA Hall of Fame in 2004."

Short Takes

  • "Taking a step that has tempted and terrified much of the newspaper industry, The New York Times announced on Wednesday that it would charge some frequent readers for access to its Web site - news that drew ample reaction from media analysts and consumers, ranging from enthusiastic to withering," Richard Perez-Pena reported Wednesday for the Times. "Fundamental features of the plan have not yet been decided, including how much the paper will charge for online subscriptions or how many articles a reader will be allowed to see without paying."
  • Sebastian Rotella Sebastian Rotella, an award-winning foreign correspondent and investigative reporter who worked almost 23 years for the Los Angeles Times, has joined ProPublica,which describes itself as "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest," the organization announced on Friday. Rotella served most recently as a national security correspondent in Washington, and appears to be ProPublica's first Latino reporter.
  • Greg Mitchell, former editor of Editor & Publisher, told Huffington Post readers on Tuesday that he found out he was not going to be part of the revived operation about three hours after he learned the magazine had been sold. "I got a call at home from Duncan McIntosh, the publisher of Boating World and FishRap News and front-runner for the takeover, who confirmed that the contracts for the sale had been signed but unfortunately I would not be part of the re-launch. 'We want to move in a different direction,' he said."
  • The 63-year-old Education Writers Association announced Tuesday it is eliminating dues and "will immediately shift from a traditional membership organization to an open community, embracing a wider net of people concerned about the quality of education information." In addition, "Executive Director Lisa Walker will step down in June after 24 years at the helm. The search for a new executive director commences today."
  • The National Association of Black Journalists announced it will hold its annual conference on health disparities March 4-6 at the Barbara Jordan Conference Center at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. "The conference will provide journalists the tools to effectively report on the impact of health, health policy and health care reform on communities of color," the association said. "This annual conference has garnered the attention of headliners and newsmakers in the fight including former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund and Phill Wilson, Founder of the Black AIDS Institute."
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal"The Supreme Court has thrown out a lower-court ruling ordering a new sentencing for the journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal," Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" reported on Wednesday. "The decision orders the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to revisit its ruling that Jamal deserves a new sentencing because of flawed jury instructions. The Supreme Court cited its own recent decision in an Ohio death row case it says raised similar issues. Abu-Jamal was convicted for the 1981 killing of a white police officer following a controversial trial before a predominantly white jury. Abu-Jamal contends the case was marred with racial bias, including the deliberate exclusion of blacks from the jury. If re-sentenced, Abu-Jamal will face either death or life in prison without parole."
  • President Obama issued this statement Monday on the death of Chicago television reporter Carlos Hernandez Gomez, who died Sunday at 36: 'I was saddened to hear of the passing of Carlos Hernandez Gomez. Our paths first crossed when I was a State Senator. He was a throwback in the style of Chicago's storied political reporters. He loved Chicago, and he relentlessly sought to tell its story with the commitment to truth and the insatiable curiosity that any good reporter has to have. I quickly learned that when you saw his sharp fedora in a crowd, hard questions were coming. But Carlos always played it straight. And I always enjoyed our interactions in Springfield, Chicago, or on the campaign trail. Carlos was a role model to many, and an integral part of the Chicago story he strived to tell. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Randi and his family.'
  • Richard Prince discusses this column with Keith Murphy on "The Urban Journal" on XM Satellite Radio on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST, 5 p.m. PST on XM Ch. 169, The Power. It can be heard online, look for "pt. 1." [Jan. 21]

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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