Letters: Haiti Earthquake Coverage
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Now, time for your comments, and they focus on our coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, in particular one moment from yesterday's program.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It happened during my conversation with our reporter Jason Beaubien. He was outside the Villa Creole Hotel, and Jason told us how Haitians were bringing their injured children to the hotel because they knew there were doctors staying there, and he noticed one child as he was speaking with us.
(Soundbite of previous broadcast)
JASON BEAUBIEN: There's a girl - sorry - there's a girl right in front of me at the moment. She's covered in bandages. She's laying on just some - what are they? They're from the deck chairs that would be by the pool. She's naked except for what looks like a tablecloth on top of her. She keeps lifting her head and her lips are shaking. Sorry, Melissa.
BLOCK: That's okay.
SIEGEL: I have never been more moved listening to NPR than I was today. That's from Ann Lise(ph) of East Bethel, Minnesota, and she continues: I know that as journalists you need to just report the news and stay neutral emotionally, but Jason's brutally honest reaction to the destruction around him shook me to the core.
BLOCK: Tony Eads of Oak Park, Illinois didn't like what he heard. He writes: It is utterly inappropriate to showcase a reporter's emotional response to a story. It is sensationalistic, it is unprofessional and most importantly, it is not news.
SIEGEL: But overwhelmingly we heard from listeners who were grateful for the way that Jason described what he saw. Alicia Jones(ph) of Santa Monica, California noted a contrast between her workday and what she heard on the radio. She works for Disney's Advanced Projects where she says: We figure out how to make the happiest place on earth. And yet, she continues, tonight as I got into my car, I happened upon Jason Beaubien's report about a little girl. His voice quivered as he described how her lips were trembling and in that single moment, the horrible scale of this tragedy became so human, so personal, he apologized to Melissa. No apologies, Jason, thank you, thank you for making us see.
BLOCK: And Nancy Nash of Newport, Oregon writes this about Jason's account: I respect him for expressing his compassion for that little girl, not only professionally, but as one human being to another. And I thank Jason for allowing me to be momentarily connected to that child in a way I will not soon forget.
SIEGEL: It did a rare thing - that from James Hugas(ph) of Venice, California. It brought the reality of the situation on the ground into my truck as I drove home on the freeway. Hugas continues, I've been moved this evening not just to make a donation to the Red Cross, but also to reconsider the distance I automatically place between myself and the many tragic stories we hear on the news these days.
BLOCK: We appreciate your letters about our program. You can write to us at npr.org. Just click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.
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