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News & Press: President's Corner

NABJ helping Haitian journalists hit by earthquake

Thursday, May 6, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: kathy times
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Dear NABJ Family,

I promised in my last column to get back to you about NABJ's efforts to help journalists and advance journalism in Haiti after the devastating earthquake. I am pleased to report that NABJ has been very engaged in efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

As you know, damage from the catastrophic earthquake was unlike anything ever seen in the Western Hemisphere. In less than one minute on January 12, much of the capital of Port-au-Prince was destroyed. The government now estimates that some 300,000 people were killed and 1.3 million displaced.

The local journalism community was hit hard: latest estimates are that 31 journalists were killed, and dozens more were left homeless. Several broadcast stations were knocked off the air, perhaps some for good, and the country’s two daily newspapers were severely damaged and unable to publish.

I asked the co-chairs of the World Affairs Task Force -- Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood and Djibril Diallo, senior adviser to the executive director of UNAIDS -- to assess the situation and report back to me on how NABJ could help. I know they consulted with some of you before preparing their report. I want to thank John and Djibril for their hard work.

One of their first recommendations was that NABJ become a founding member of the Haiti News Project, designed to provide assistance to Haitian print journalists reeling from the devastation. Another organization, Internews, is helping broadcast media. NABJ joined several other groups in forming HNP, including American Society of News Editors (ASNE), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Poder Magazine, the Poynter Institute and UNITY: Journalists of Color.

Project members, who hold regular telephone conference calls with Haitian journalists, agreed to focus efforts on providing for equipment and technology, professional training and tents for those journalists still homeless. A major initiative is the one computer, one journalist campaign. The goal is simple: provide a computer to each of the 250 working journalists in areas affected by the earthquake. Keep in mind that many journalists lost everything. We believe it’s important to give them the tools to cover the biggest story of their lives. Computers are critical to this mission.

HNP plans to help train Haitian journalists, and discussions are being held about forming an independent investigative news unit among the journalists. There is a lot happening, and I invite you to get involved. You can help with training or make a financial contribution toward purchasing a camera, digital tape recorder or a laptop computer. Please give whatever you can.

You can find more information at or become a fan on Facebook. The project’s coordinator is our colleague Joe Oglesby, a former Miami Herald editorial page editor. Reach him at, or 305-608-2333.

In addition to our involvement in the news project, NABJ will include programming about Haiti in our national convention in San Diego this summer. We have invited Haiti’s President Rene Preval to address us and are awaiting a response. NABJ has agreed to advocate on behalf of journalists in Haiti to be included in funding programs from international institutions as they discuss rebuilding efforts. NABJ also is discussing the creation of a fellowship program to fund efforts for members who would like to report on the earthquake’s aftermath.

Please do what you can to help. After listening to the pleas of Haitian journalists, I know they would appreciate it more than you will ever know. Thank you.

Kathy Y. Times
NABJ President

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