Haiti-DR: Where’s the context?

One of the most important things good journalists can provide to any story is context.

  • Helping readers/viewers/listeners understand WHY something happened.
  • Explaining the connections of different actions that lead to the results in the story.
  • Providing background and history to an event
  • There has been a lot of ink and electrons spent talking about the Baptist missionaries who were arrested in Haiti and the subsequent release of 10 of those held.

    Amarillo.com is doing a two-part series on one of the released missionaries. (‘Next thing you know, they put us all in jail’: Allen tells of Haiti trip)

    At first I was happy that a local paper picked up a local angle to a much larger story. But as I read the piece — more of just a Q&A instead of a real article — I was disappointed.)

    Nothing in the introduction talks about the local and international laws involved in the case.

    Nothing in the introduction talks about the hostility that exists between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (Despite it being mentioned by the subject of the article.)

    And then there is the constant use of “the Dominican” by the subject. Only those who know nothing about the country or the island use that phrase to talk about the Dominican Republic. We use “DomRep” or “the DR” or the full name. Would it have hurt the integrity of the article for the editors to correct this? Or did the editors not know a problem existed? (I am betting on the latter, especially because the questions include the phrase “the Dominican.”)

    I am willing to bet that the subject had loads of “er’s” and “um’s” while being interviewed. The editors took those out.

    Now back to context.

    The subject of the article says: “I didn’t know the animosity between the two countries. But they were going to at least allow that.” Yet no where in the article is that animosity explained.

    Just as the subject of the article was clueless to this issue before going to the island, the readers of the story remain just as clueless. Would it have hurt the series to explain a few things about this historic animosity?

    Another interesting thing is that no one seems to be looking at WHY evangelical groups has such quick access to Haiti.

    If it were not for charity work by evangelical Christians from the United States, easily a quarter of the population of the Dominican Republic would not have housing, medical or dental care or schools or school equipment. I can only assume that the numbers would have to be higher in Haiti.

    Evangelicals are a growing force in the Caribbean and South and Central America. They come in doing charity work while preaching their particular brand of Christianity.

    The traditional forces in the area — the rich, the military and the Catholic Church — are nervous about these populist Christians. There is no one place to go to cut a deal — such as going to a priest or bishop.

    Some oligarchs are so concerned with the “uncontrollable” nature of the evangelicals that at one point about five years ago, some legislators in the Dominican Republic talked about legislation to regulate or ban these groups. (It never went anywhere.)

    And now let’s look at the Dominican “lawyer” who served as an advisor to the Baptist group.

    I am willing to bet that this guy took advantage of some very naive people wanting to do good work. There have been a number of stories about how the guy is a con artist and accused trafficker of young women and children.

    Based on U.S. media reports, this guy seems to be the only one doing this nasty work.

    Hardly.

    There are hundreds of traffickers working the Haiti-DR border on a regular basis.

    Some move Haitians in the dead of night in sealed trucks and buses across the border — after a few dollars are distributed to local border patrols on both sides. These Haitian workers are sent to the sugar fields of Haiti. (To see what happens to the Haitians sent to the sugar fields,see the 2007 documentary ” The Price of Sugar.”)

    Others are used as cheap illegal labor in construction projects. And oddly enough on each pay day there is a raid by the immigration office, causing the laborers to scatter without pay. When the workers ask for their pay the next day, the boss says people only get paid on the legal pay day.

    And some traffickers specialize in procuring children for slavery or prostitution. (A couple of towns in the DR are becoming as famous as Bangkok for child sex.)

    International law is also at play here.

    There are international conventions covering the transportation of children. It was the Hague Convention that was the legal basis for the return of Sean Goldman from Brazil to his father in the United States.

    The Hague Convention and other international treaties and obligations are in place to protect children and others affected by traffickers.

    Where is the reporting on how these international agreements affect — if they do — the case of the Baptists and others trying to help the children of Haiti?

    So I ask again, “Where is the context?”

    • Where are the explanatory paragraphs in a story that talk about the animosity between Haiti and the DR?
    • Where are the grafs that explain how work by evangelicals in the area has been helping the residents of Hispaniola AND changing the social and political dynamics of the island?
    • Where is the discussion of the trafficking that has regularly taken place between the DR and Haiti?
    • Where are explanations about trafficking or mistreatment of children on an international level?

    Cross-posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

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    • Keneke Manoa

      She also should be fired!!

    • John Truid

      Damn, Danny Bailey, you just got your ass handed to you! LOL!

    • Jack Dawe

      I’m sure ms. click has a bright future at Gawker, or Vox, or Buzzfeed, or Rollingstone, or the Huffington Post, or this list could go on for a long time.

    • Robert Riversong

      1) This was public space.

      2) The reporter was not “any person with a cell phone camera”, but a journalism student who was coverng the protest for ESPN.

    • Danny Bailey

      ….except faculty and staff. Which this woman was.

    • Danny Bailey

      http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/access-public-property

      Unless you are faculty or staff. Which this woman was.

    • Danny Bailey

      Public space that can limit access. http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/access-public-property

    • Danny Bailey

      It’s funny, I’ve gotten zero replies to my law review article that shows faculty and staff CAN and often DO limit public space at universities from the media. Y’all sure told me….exactly what I expected to hear.

    • AndrewMSeaman

      I’m not sure what you mean. Faculty and staff can’t stop people from reporting or protesting on campus. It’s public land. No one can stop people from exercising their First Amendment rights.

    • Danny Bailey
    • AndrewMSeaman

      Exactly…

      “However, some public property, even though it is open only for limited purposes, can take on the attributes of a public forum discussed above. A classic example of this type of property is public schools and universities. Although public school and university buildings are not wholly open to the public, some parts of a campus may be considered a public forum. If a school’s large open quad is accessed from public sidewalks and streets and freely used by the general public with no apparent objection from the school administration, then the quad may be considered “dedicated” to public use, and therefore more like the traditional public forums of the public park and sidewalk. Additionally, if the school opens certain of its rooms for non-school meetings that are open to the public, those rooms, during those times, will be treated as public forums.”

      They had been letting people protest for a month or so, which sets precedent. You can’t pick and choose freedoms from the First Amendment to allow.

    • Chuck Lenatti

      Where in the First Amendment does it say that faculty or staff get to restrict the press’s freedom of speech?

    • Chuck Lenatti

      People who rely on First Amendment freedoms need to tread very lightly on restricting the freedom of speech of others. For example, if a police officer pulls over someone for a minor traffic violation or a broken headlight and then summarily begins beating and shooting them, that officer can tell a person filming them that they are invading the officer’s personal private space and prevent them from filming the assault. Either everyone has freedom of speech or no one does. I suggest you educate yourself about the First Amendment of the Constitution

    • Brian Trosko

      If she was acting in her official capacity as staff of a public university in order to eject a journalist from a public event, then the university was acting in violation of the journalist’s first amendment rights and should be prepared to deal with a civil rights lawsuit.

    • Dino

      Here’s a reply, Danny. Your link points to “school administrators” being able to restrict access. Melissa Click is faculty, not an administrator. She had no right try to restrict access. Especially the way she did, by asking for “muscle” to forcibly remove the media. You are wrong on this, and the school’s administration took appropriate action against her.

    • Jay DeFee

      Sad that we are even discussing this mess. Much to-do about nothing. The blacks of yesteryear suffered severe discrimination.to the point of lose of life. Now they want no name calling/

    • Amy Westerbank

      Maybe you should read the article you linked:
      “owever, some public property, even though it is open only for limited purposes, can take on the attributes of a public forum discussed above. A classic example of this type of property is public schools and universities. Although public school and university buildings are not wholly open to the public, some parts of a campus may be considered a public forum. If a school’s large open quad is accessed from public sidewalks and streets and freely used by the general public with no apparent objection from the school administration, then the quad may be considered “dedicated” to public use, and therefore more like the traditional public forums of the public park and sidewalk. Additionally, if the school opens certain of its rooms for non-school meetings that are open to the public, those rooms, during those times, will be treated as public forums.

      Remember that because public schools are not entirely public forums, school administrators often have the discretion to restrict the entry of outsiders, particularly while the school is in session. Check in with the school administration before entering school grounds or you may be liable for trespass. Additionally, some states laws prohibit people from loitering within a certain distance while school is in session. These “school loitering laws” are mainly aimed at keeping sexual predators and drug dealers away from schoolchildren, but be aware that their language may be broad enough to cover lawful or innocent activity as well.”

      As there was a protest on, the pubic land became a public forum. As protesters were exercising their right to protest (Well, right to protest allegations that turned out to be false. Except that poop swastika), that made the land a public forum. Crick was punished by the school because they recognized that the area became a public forum and thus allowed for discourse. Further, since it became a fully public forum, that meant that press could cover it. What she did was objectively incorrect and Mizzous own actions against her show that they disagreed with her. She acted of her own accord and was called on it by the campus staff who outright said “She is incorrect and should be punished for limiting rights of others. We recognize this protest as a first amendment recognized protest and thus feel it to be a public forum.”

      Remember: She does not represent the campus staff. This is clearly seen in her being fired.

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