Haiti’s online news agencies barely functioning

The three main online news agencies in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, are struggling in the aftermath of the quake. Clarens Renois, the founding director of Haiti Press Network, addressed the outlet’s future frankly: “In three months, I will close the agency,” he said. 

The newsroom staff of reporters and photographers is currently doing volunteer work, Renois said. There is not a penny to pay them, he stressed, adding that his agency is also facing serious technical difficulties. Computers, cameras, and tape recorders are broken. “How do we send reporters into the field without cameras to capture images?” Renois asked.

Views of Haiti, a tourist magazine that Haiti Press Network recently published to compensate for money problems, is now defunct, and, in addition to maintaining a team of journalists, the rental cost of the Web site must be paid regularly, Renois said.

AlterPresse, the online news site of Haiti’s Alternative Media Group, is in similar straits. Although its premises have been seriously damaged, the site—which focuses on social, human rights, and sustainable development issues—is still online.

The director of the Haitian Press Agency, Venel Remarais, said that losses are considerable. The agency, founded in 1989, tends to focus on rural coverage.

A veteran journalist, Renois was formerly head of Radio Metropole’s newsroom for more than 10 years and is currently also the Agence France-Presse correspondent in Port-au-Prince. He told CPJ that Haitians don’t trust online news agencies as much as they do other media outlets, although he estimated that 60 percent of the information used by Haitian radio stations comes from news agencies.

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