Media center in Haiti has become ‘anchor point’ for press

Three months after it opened, Haitian journalists are still benefitting from the wide-ranging services provided by the Media Operations Center, which has provided a workspace for journalists after the earthquake. While radio stations based in the capital are back on the air, the long power cuts and problems accessing the Internet are still prompting journalists to seek refuge at the center, said local veteran journalist Yves Marie Chanel. He called it “an essential anchor point for local journalists and those working for international media outlets in Haiti.”

With about 20 computers and a 40-seat capacity, the media center occupies a comfortable building in the neighborhood of Bourdon, on Port-au-Prince’s east side. Chanel, who currently runs Mediacom, served as director of the Media Operations Center just after the January 12 earthquake. He told CPJ that the rapid access to the Internet and the availability of several computers at the center make journalists’ work easier, especially for those working in print media.

The center was opened in Port-au-Prince on January 21 at the initiative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and printing company Quebecor. Claude Gilles, a journalist with Le Nouvelliste and the RSF correspondent in Haiti, currently runs the facility. Internews and the International Media Support regularly hold training seminars there for journalists on the trauma and consequences of the earthquake on the work of journalists in Haiti, said manager Nadine Auguste. Journalists’ associations and local nongovernmental organizations supporting the Haitian media also meet there regularly.

The Media Operations Center has gone beyond its primary function. Auguste said the center not only serves as a workspace, but also provides coffee, water, and food for journalists who come by on daily basis. On average, a dozen journalists regularly visit the center every day, she said.