Every evening, between 9 and 10 p.m., people in areas affected by the January 12 earthquake listen to the program “Nouvel pou nou Konnen” (News to Know). Huddled in tents or sitting in the open air, men and women cling to their transistor radios to get news on the latest decisions of the Haitian government or agencies coordinating international assistance in affected areas. The program comes via the California-based media development agency Internews, which opened a press center in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in order to bridge the information gap following the destruction of most media outlets in this city.
Romel Pierre has been coordinating
news for the agency since the quake. His task is to send his reports to
different radio stations in the capital for immediate broadcast. Under an
agreement between private media outlets and Internews, a nearly 10-minute news
report on the needs of people in affected areas is broadcast daily. The report provides
information on dates and places for the recruitment of workers to ease
congested streets, locations of food aid distribution or hospitals and health
centers, as well as actions to be taken ahead of the upcoming rainy season that
could cause severe flooding.
As part of an Internews initiative to
contribute to the spread of information, hundreds of transistor radios have
been distributed to various media outlets in the capital for delivery to local
With his tape recorder and his laptop, Pierre goes up and down
the congested streets of the capital in search of news. Pierre, a reporter for
more than 20 years, began his career with Radio Lumiere, before working with Radio
Vision in 2000, then with the National Television of Haiti and as news editor
with Radio Ibo.
In an interview with CPJ from Port-au-Prince, Pierre
stressed that three major challenges currently hinder the work of Haitian
journalists: the resurgence of armed gangs in popular neighborhoods, the
difficult access to information, and, especially, the basic struggle of reporters
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