If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Tuesday, 19 January 2010


A woman is trapped under the rubble for six days after the Haiti earthquake. Rescuers finally get to her and begin the arduous task of freeing her. Her husband anxiously awaits to be reunited with his partner.

Bill Neely, a UK-based veteran TV journalists, who happens to have stumbled on this great story, manages to push down a microphone near her and asks,
'Are you hurt?'
Of course she's in pain and her agony or discomfort need not be overdramatized. The ITV News reporter fell into the trap of getting carried away by an exclusive story, to the point of sinking to dehumanizing levels.
Haiti's capital is struggling with its biggest catastrophe yet and every life rescued is a celebration of the triumph of life over death, despite the ominous loss of thousands of lives.

 Unfair interview of Haiti earthquake survivor

And when the woman is finally pulled out, the reporter once again spoils the celebratory moment with another awkward question:

'Did you think you would survive?'

And the rapid response from the probably shocked survivor that she did not think it would have gone any other way serves to underpin the insensitive line of questioning.

As a viewer, I would have been more interested to know what kept the woman going, how as she hinted, she got to the point of not fearing death and what it felt like to be reunited with her loved one.

In any case, the idea of interviewing a person who has undergone so much trauma, even before she was rescued, is a gross violation of ethical standards.

If she had died, perhaps the reporter would have felt his story would have had a better ending.

Deaths in the aftermath of the Haiti quake, it appears, is a subject for big stories like the piece in the online Independent on the lack of dignity in the disposal of the bodies of the Haiti tragedy.

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