Update 11/15: Thanks to everyone spreading the word. The author of the articles in question, Steve Tuttle, can be reached at email@example.com. Also don’t miss this petition directed at the editors that you can sign here. Tuttle emailed me defending the piece a “first-person column,” thanking me for the “thoughtful criticism,” but saying next to nothing of substance. He has not responded to my last message.
Newsweek’s article yesterday, “Haiti in a Time of Cholera,” is not worth reading. Unless you happen to be curious, more than anything, about how alien and depressing Haiti is to Steven Tuttle, the magazine’s staff reporter. He was sent here on a short trip to cover the cholera outbreak.
He followed my satirical guide for journalists parachuting in to Haiti absurdly well.
For him, Haiti’s street traffic “defies all rules of logic and physics.”
For him, UN peacekeepers who appeared to have run over an unnamed Haitian woman, killing her and attempting to hide what happened, don’t merit further investigation or explanation.
More interesting is the young boy who walks by the scene of the accident – an example of “the defining characteristic of Haitians.” They are the “most resilient people on the planet.”
His previous article concludes comparing the Haitian people to a gnarled tree. “That’s what Haitians are like. . .Beautiful and tough.”
But for Newsweek, Haitians are also scary.
Tuttle bravely ventures beyond his hotel, where he broke down in tears one night, to an area called Truitier. He’s frightened by a man he describes as “screaming.”
“I was really glad I didn’t understand Creole because I don’t think I want to know what he said.” He didn’t think to ask his translator, who was driving the vehicle. “I decided I would not get out of the car. This was because I was scared to death.”
I went to Truitier last week by tap-tap and found myself chatting with a group of young men and women. They explained how they postponed their demonstration against waste-dumping because of Hurricane Tomas. We laughed about how unusual it is for blan (foreigners) to be walking on foot. In an earlier trip to Truitier, I followed and talked with people scouring the dump pile itself, looking for things they could sell (see Al Jazeera English’s report yesterday for video of their protest).
I won’t rehash the rest of Tuttle’s sadly predictable yet highly sensational piece. Needless to say, between his two Haiti reports, not a single on-the-street Haitian is quoted.
Take action and write to Newsweek’s editors. Twittering your outrage or complaining to friends is not enough.
I happen to have email addresses for Newsweek’s editors. Andrew Bast is the articles editor: Andrew.Bast@newsweek.com, while Samuel Lennox is the web editor: firstname.lastname@example.org. Continue reading