Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ansel Herz Reports from Haiti; Jeremy Dupin Reportedly Fine

By Al Giordano

Ansel Herz and Jeremy Dupin, alive and reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti

We spent much of the past 24 hours looking for reporters Ansel Herz and Jeremy Dupin - 2010 School of Authentic Journalism scholars - caught in yesterday's 7.3 level earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and finally heard from Ansel this afternoon. He writes:

"I'm fine. Have a lot of footage I want to get out. Working on a written piece. Just found Internet. Do you know if Jeremy's ok? Haven't been able to reach him."

Jeremy is reportedly also fine: according to TeleSur US bureau chief Reed Lindsay - now in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic en route to Port-au-Prince - another staffer from TeleSur was able to reach Jeremy's phone before cell phone service went out last night, speaking to a friend of his who likewise reports he is okay. We will keep hammering away to try and get more information as well as offer any and all logistical support and resources they need to get the story out.

You can listen to Ansel in this audio interview with PBS taken today for an on-the-ground account of the situation outside a UN Peacekeeping Forces base outside of Port-au-Prince describing the scene, as well as what he has seen and heard in his reporting. He says that he had been told last night not to venture downtown, that there could be "violence and theft," but Ansel went anyway and reports he saw no such thing: "Haitians are banding together as best as they can to help each other."

We'll update as we hear more.

Update: Ansel has spoken by telephone with Jeremy, confirming that he's okay. They will meet up tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, Ansel was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. I'm uploading that interview right now to YouTube...

...and here it is:

He was preceded on CNN by a reporter claiming sensational stories of bandits, looting and unrest (but the only "evidence" cited was a prison warden the national police chief, upset that when a wall fell down the inmates escaped), but Ansel - who has walked miles throughout Port-au-Prince and some of its most impoverished neighborhoods - says that is simply not the case. "I walked the whole way - no one bothered me at all, everyone i talked to offered to help, was asking for info," he just told us.

And there lies the difference between so much commercial media and authentic journalism. Some stay in their hotels and report the rumors they hear. Others, like Ansel Herz, go where the people and the story are happening. I'm so looking forward to the upcoming reports.

Update II: Ansel interviewed on BBC.

Update III: Ansel's brother, Galen, is updating Ansel's blog, with info, including his contact info (for media interviews): Cell phone in Haiti +509 3607 3401 "or by e-mail, but limited Internet access. Also on Skype with username ‘hakomasong.’" (I would just add: please don't clog up his phone line or limited online time unless it is vital for the work of getting the story out. And even when it is vital, be brief. A reporter in a situation like this has to practice triage, and has to work on his own work as well.)