'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

Cruise ships still docking with merrymakers at Haiti beaches

Labadee Haiti

The gorgeous beach of Labadee, Haiti, heavily guarded for your vacation enjoyment. (Image by Randy Lemoine via Flickr)

I’ve never had high esteem for cruises, which seem to reward laziness, fear, and are built on the idea that it’s actually okay to dump human shit straight into the ocean. But this story from the Guardian seems to defy all standards of human decency:

Sixty miles from Haiti’s devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to “cut loose” with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.

via Cruise ships still find a Haitian berth | World news | The Guardian.

Some passengers are reportedly “sickened” by the situation. One guys talks about how inappropriate it is to eat a cheeseburger when people are piled up dead in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

It’s easy to be outraged. Then again, what did you have for lunch, on dry land?

(It should be said: The ships do carry considerable loads of aid, according to cruise officials.)

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Filed under: Haiti, World, , , , ,

The best Haiti reporting yet

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 13:  A man hol...

On the streets in Port-au-Prince. (Image by Getty Images via Daylife)

As I wrote earlier this week, beware the first reports from a disaster scene. Often it’s in these hectic first days that some of the wildly inaccurate work gets slammed down. We’re at day six now. And Jon Lee Anderson just arrived.

For those who don’t know his work, Anderson is one of The New Yorker‘s most impressive staff writers. All his stories are must reads: His reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq was surprising, tender, and never typical and a recent piece from Brazil just as the Olympics were announced there was almost enough of a national black eye to start some kind of riot. And Che, the definitive biography Anderson spent ten years writing, is a masterpiece.

Some time in the last hours Anderson passed through the unmanned gates of the DR/Haiti border and is sending text messages to his editor Amy Davidson.

Check out the whole dispatch. No surprise: He’s already coined one of what will likely be the most succinct distillations of the situation: “Haiti has been out of sight and of of mind for far too long; it is like a Lower Ninth Ward of almost 10 million people.”

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Filed under: Haiti, Journalism, Media, The New Yorker, World, , , ,

A word of caution: Finding truth in Haiti disaster news

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 12:  Survivors...

Survivors at a clinic in Port au Prince, January 12. (Image by Getty Images via Daylife)

New York Times media genius David Carr wrote an excellent column in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that should be reread today. In the dizzying swirl of terrible rumor that posed as news that late summer and fall, Carr took a hard look at news creators such as Tucker Carlson and Greta Van Sustern, who had repeated unsubstantiated but compelling reports of rape, murder, and widespread looting — none of which was ultimately proven to haveĀ  occurred, at least on the lurid scale so bitingly promised.

The column begins:

DISASTER has a way of bringing out the best and the worst instincts in the news media. It is a grand thing that during the most terrible days of Hurricane Katrina, many reporters found their gag reflex and stopped swallowing pat excuses from public officials. But the media's willingness to report thinly attributed rumors may also have contributed to a kind of cultural wreckage that will not clean up easily.

via More Horrible Than Truth: News Reports – New York Times.

Carr adds his own perspective from the day the Twin Towers fall. Victims still covered from ash told him that they’d seen men fighting on ledges, women tossing babies out windows, and other ultimately unsubstantiated stories. In the relative calm of the next few days, the real story began to emerge: People trapped were far too high to be seen in any detail. The ultimate record of 9/11 was no less horrifying, but far more true.

Haiti is undeniably suffering mightily now. And there are powerful stories being written that will indeed go down as the first draft of history. But before people begin to draw broad conclusions, beware the perils of reporting on the first days of disaster. Read, watch, and donate — by all means — but history and reporters like Carr remind us to reserve final judgment. Victims deserve both immediate attention and then, when time permits, a more thoughtful referendum, and hopefully one that helps prevent future disaster. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Haiti, Media, New York Times, World, , , , ,