Washington, D.C., March 4, 2010 – Many radio stations and newspapers in Haiti are unable to operate at capacity because of technical and financial problems caused by January’s devastating earthquake, according to experts appearing at the Voice of America (VOA) Thursday.
Sinclair Cornell, senior media adviser at USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, said the destruction was so complete that the national radio station was knocked off the air and a TV station operated under a tent. USAID is providing a range of assistance to help improve communication, allowing people to get vital information, he said.
The VOA event, “Rebuilding Haiti’s Media: The Lifeline of Development,” brought government, media and non-government organizations together to examine the current state of media in Haiti and its future after the earthquake. The conference was webcast at http://author.voanews.com/english/About/2010-03-01-haiti-discussion.cfm.
P.P. Youri Emmanuel, an alternate representative at Haiti’s mission to the Organization of American States (OAS), said there has been an outpouring of support for Haiti since the earthquake. While the destruction is tragic, he said the rebuilding process offers hope for the future.
Ronald Cesar, chief of VOA’s Creole Service, recently surveyed the media in Haiti. “More than 12 stations in the Port-au-Prince area had their buildings either collapse or damaged by the quake,” he said. “Although most are back on the air, they are not able to resume their full programming” because they lack the resources and equipment.
Moreover, he said, advertising revenues have dropped off across the country, forcing some media companies to lay off staff. VOA’s Creole Service (www.voanews.com/Creole) is the largest international broadcaster to Haiti. It produces 10.5 hours of programming a day during the week, and 9.5 hours on the weekends.
Marjorie Rouse, a vice president at Internews (www.internews.org), a non-profit that focuses on media development, said an Internews team created a 15-minute daily show now broadcast on 27 stations in Haiti.
Shanthi Kalathil, a consultant at the World Bank’s CommGap, urged donors to conduct long-range planning to rebuild the media and prevent distortions in the media market. She also said new media present an opportunity to give Haitians a voice in the rebuilding of their country.
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