Radio Lumière has officially published the names of three of its journalists who died in the January 12 earthquake in Haiti: Jude Marcellus, Marlene Joseph, and Ginord Desplumes. They died under the rubble of collapsed buildings. It took a month for Radio Lumière officials to decide to publish the names of the three victims.
“The death of these colleagues is a great loss to the staff,” said the station’s newsroom director, Gesner Toussaint. Radio Lumière is one of media outlets in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that has suffered the worst human loss during the disaster, Toussaint told CPJ from Haiti. The station is the voice of the country’s Protestant churches. Its main studio in Carrefour (west of Port-au-Prince) suffered no serious damage. On January 16, engineers from the U.S.-based World Gospel Mission came to the area to assess the damage to the station’s equipment.
Since the earthquake, Radio Lumière has been operating from a makeshift tent, like most media outlets in the Haitian capital. With great difficulty, it is resuming its daily news editions. With the death of journalist Marlene Joseph, the midday news editions have stopped, Toussaint told CPJ. However, Radio Lumière continues to relay news reports three times a day in Creole from the U.S.-backed Voice of America. “The loss of our three journalists deeply hinders the operation of the newsroom,” said Toussaint.
Radio Lumière is facing a deep financial crisis, said Reverend Varnel Jeune. According to Jeune, the station’s reserve funds are exhausted and its journalists are receiving only half their salaries.
The earthquake has completely changed the activities that were expected to mark the 50th anniversary of the Haitian gospel radio station, which was founded in 1959 by David Hart, an American evangelist from the West Indies Mission. Radio Lumière reaches 90 percent of the Haitian territory. Broadcasting on both AM and FM, the central studio is connected by a network of local radio stations to the 10 geographical departments in the country. Radio Lumière launched the Télé Lumière channel in 1999. Its programs are usually broadcast in Creole.
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