News Outlets Struggle to Cover Haiti

By Andrew Gauthier 

The Washington Post

Despite widespread devastation and calamitous conditions, American journalists have poured into Port-au-Prince, some arriving mere hours after Tuesday’s earthquake struck Haiti’s capital city.

In scenes reminiscent of the Asian tsunami of 2004, American TV networks began broadcasting footage of the catastrophe by late afternoon on Wednesday, providing harrowing images of collapsed buildings and dazed and injured people.

Although TV news often shies away from frank images of the dead, there has been little restraint this time. CNN on Wednesday night carried footage from a wrecked clinic; the camera panned from a pile of 15 bodies lying in its doorway to a lifeless infant, its limbs and head protruding from beneath a filthy sheet. Several networks warned viewers before showing the most graphic pictures.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper was the first American TV anchor on the scene Wednesday. More…