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 populations.
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 to survive.
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