To help, or not to help?…That is the question.

In light of recent events involving Anderson Cooper and the actions he took in Haiti to help a young boy, there have been many people asking the same questions:

Should journalists set aside their reporting tools and become involved in the event happening?  Is it acceptable, even commendable, if they are helping people?  What would you do if you were in the same situation?

Imagine it… Here you are a reporter right smack dab in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters we have seen.  Haitians are everywhere and everything is happening too fast.  A fight breaks out and a young boy stumbles towards you and your camera.  He is bleeding profusely from his head and looks on the brink of collapsing… This is where you have to make the decision.  Do you set your camera down and take action, in turn becoming part of the news, or do you remain the objective observer, the fly on the wall, there to report what is happening.

Reading through Anderson Coopers blog AC360 it is easy to understand how overwhelming the situation in Haiti would be.  As I read through articles and posts by the LA Times, True/Slant, and BAGnewsNOTES a distinct notion of what is right and wrong is hard for me to grasp.  When you are put into that type of situation you cannot anticipate what is going to happen.  I could not tell until I was there in the moment what I would actually do.

When I read the post by Mike Shaw at BAGnewsNOTES, I felt he had a valid point in saying mainstream media exploits the sorrows of others.  At times displaying these people, who from places most Americans will never go, to invoke pity for the downtrodden and pride for our own good fortunes.  Making the starving child in Africa the poster our government hides behind; ensuring our citizens that we have it much better than many so don’t complain.

But what Cooper did was amazing, it can’t be wrong to help a child even if your intentions are making the 6 o’clock news.

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    • Maddie
    • January 22nd, 2010

    I don’t agree with all of the coverage. Most of it is good, but much of it was sensationalized in the sole aspect of violence. There wasn’t as much disorderly chaos as shown, there were a lot of people outside the capital feeding and helping others escape Port-Au-Prince.

    I know Haitians that have come back that said it was far worse. It’s a journalists job to sanitize certain events because it’s just too graphic for most people to comprehend and fit into a day. A rotting meat smell is everywhere. People have to wait for amputations, children with no families are sleeping among the bodies, the children and babies that didn’t make it are often in clear view. I won’t say much more because it’s been awful.

    Earthquakes do happen, but this is so bad because Haiti had no building standards and has lost much of their food and financial stability to gov’t corruption and three bad hurricanes.

    Haiti has needed this help for a long time, aide organizations were down there in their food crisis last year. This may actually bring some changes that in the end help them.

    • Thanks for the comment, I think we are on the same page. Journalists seem always to be on this limbo between sensationalizing what is happening to give the most vivid picture imaginable, to telling the story in a cut and dry fashion which doesn’t fully grasp at the actuality of the situation. As I have been going through my coursework I have been trying to figure out what is most important for us to do, and although I haven’t completely figured it out, I feel we are hear to shed a light on the good, the bad, and the ugly. This world is rarely full of sunshine and roses, but it isn’t a complete hell whole either. We need to find the balance and we need to be fair to our subjects.

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