Q media panel debates Haiti coverage

A media panel gathered on CBC Radio’s Q,
hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, debated whether the coverage of the earthquake in
Haiti has been “verging on ‘disaster

The panelists were Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank, author and Rabble founder Judy Rebick and columnist Norman Spector.

Here’s a sampling of what was said:

“I think the danger is always the pornography of suffering. And I think every new organization has got to work very hard not to fall into that while at the same time following the natural arc of a story of that sort. I think for the most part the major new organizations have been responsible and have contributed enormously to building tremendous compassion…But I think there are instances of folks really taking advantage and seeming incredibly self-serving.”
–John Cruickshank

“I have another concern as well, which is the lack of context in the coverage so that we’re told that Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere, but not why it is the poorest country in the hemisphere. And so the history…there’s almost no discussion of that and it affects the coverage…I think we’re getting a that one-sided coverage of victims in Haiti.”
–Judy Rebick

“People in John’s business live day-to-day by circulation and ratings. People in Judy’s business live day-to-day by trying to change political opinions and political views. Everyone feels for the people of Haiti, but the trick is at the beginning to make sure that you keep your primary agenda out of the equation. For the media that means not trying to use this to increase ratings, to promote your brand.”
–Norman Spector

“One of the things we do is we take all of the photographs that are
going to be on the front page or on the inside pages to news meetings
so that there are a lot of folks in the room, so that there isn’t a
single sensibility, that you’re actually having lots of men and women
looking at things and reflecting a broader view.”
–John Cruickshank

Listen to the full episode.