The New York Times has a piece by Shaila Dewan that describes the chaos that takes place during and following a major natural disaster. In this case, it is who pays for the medical treatment in the U.S. of the Haitians hurt in the recent earthquake.
Cost Dispute Halts Airlift of Injured Haiti Quake Victims
Let’s assume that nowhere in the emergency planning was there a provision for treatment of a large number of wounded from a foreign natural disaster. And I can understand this. The plan probably calls for all treatment to take place on hospital ships.
But once that first planeload of wounded started heading for the States, don’t you think somewhere in the disaster relief system someone would have asked who was paying for the care?
From the side of journalism, where were the local reporters?
Think about it.
Victims from an event that dominated the world’s news for a week were sent to U.S. hospitals. Local reporters could have had stories about the earthquake and local contributions to the relief effort without having to fly to Haiti. Even it was just a “feel good” story about what the local community is doing to help.
Did such stories happen? I didn’t see any but then not every small town paper is fully on the Internet.
But if you think about it, what would one of the first questions have been in this story? How about: “Who is paying for this?”
Local reporters could have nailed down this issue and could have had the relief agencies looking more closely at this issue BEFORE the stream of wounded became a flood. This story could have been part of the larger issue of disaster relief while it was taking place and it would not require anyone traveling.
Now, halting the humanitarian flights IS the story. It has the potential to push out the various reconstruction plans and projects.
First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World