Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some Media Making Things Worse for Haiti

My consumption of mainstream news is sporadic at best, so my first-hand experience of the mainstream reporting about the awful earthquake in Haiti is minimal and impressionistic. However, from what I have seen of what has been published, from what I've seen written about what has been published, and from many long years spent learning about how the dominant media work, I'm pretty confident that there is a lot of awful stuff out there -- a lot of highly performative concern and charity overlaying a lot of racism, a lot of (post)colonial nonsense, a lot of historical forgetting, and a lot of sensationalism. All of that is helping pave the way for Western states and other elite institutions to get away with militarizing the situation, prioritizing private property over human wellbeing, and later using this tragedy to transform Haitian society in Western interests.

Rebecca Solnit recently published a book called A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. I haven't read it, but I've picked it up and looked at it in bookstores a few times. Of more immediate relevance, she has also just published an article called "When the Media is the Disaster: Covering Haiti." It's worth a read. Check it out.

(Thanks to JM for the link.)

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