Graham Greene’s Hotel Trianon in The Comedians is, in real life, the Hotel Oloffson.
This used to be an iconic hotel in Haiti, now is a very creepy one.
The readers of Tripadvisor rank its popularity as the 25 of 27 hotels in Port-au-Prince an recent reviews include comments like these ones: “Filthy, rickety, overpriced hotel, surly, unhelpful management, extortionate restaurant and bar: Avoid at all cost! This Hotel is a trash pit. The owner, The staff will accept payments of cash for bar and food purchases and then charge your room again, which leads to serious discrepancies at check-out time, But, voodoo motiffs and old world architecture do not make up for an infestation of bees, leaky roofs, TVs that do not work, cold water, and toiletes that need constant attention,”
But this filthy hotel has survived the recent earthquake and many journalists are there reporting like mad.
Richard Morse is the manager of the Oloffson and from his desk has been an unique witnes of the tragedy.
A Puerto Rican-born Haitian-American musician and hotel manager, he was one of the first twitters from Haiti telling live the story.
These short messages are like bits from Hell.
Here you can read some of them with no chronological order:
• I’m just tweeting.. trying to be of help.
• A priest came to see me..I asked him why so many churches collapsed..he left without an answer..God works in mysterious ways.
• Batteries keep us tweeting!!
• When my batteries die I will no longer be able to communicate..
• I know of someone buying gas today for 150 Haitian dollars which is about $18-$21 a gallon. Most people in Haiti don’t have cars…
• Another aftershock..a little longer..much screaming downtown..this is going to be a long night
• Port au Prince is dark except for a few fires
• All my guests slept in the driveway last night..people came up from the streets thinking they were bodies.. neighbors helping neighbors
• Keep praying.
• No interviews..Twitter!!
* Another aftershock!!!
• Bodies. Bodies. Bodies. Bodies. Bodies. Bodies. I don’t know how else to say it.
• Daniel Morel, professional photographer says he cannot believe what he saw today.
• The streets are now Haiti’s living room and bedroom.
• There are people who charge your phone with a car battery.
• You don’t have to drive to see the damage, where ever you walk there is something out of the ordinary..often the suffering is silent
• Need canned foods & 1st aid kits.
• People are praying in groups..others are looking for relatives..no phone service..no electricity
• Another aftershock..people are screaming and freaking out down towards the stadium..much singing and praying in large numbers
• People don’t talk about the bodies,they talk about the decomposing bodies.
• Bring it on guys,bring doctors AND morgues and medical help.
• 5:49AM the singing and praying has begun.we won’t begin to understand all that is going on around us for some time to come
• Thanks for the support..every little bit helps
• No interviews.. tweets only
• There are still aftershocks…
• Dear Russia..I’m just tweeting
• Singing..praying..clapping hands..the sun is stting..another night of darkness..death is all around
• I heard some roosters and some birds in the trees this afternoon..first time since yesterday
• If your home is destroyed and your workplace is destroyed and your neighborhood is destroyed..then what?
• The sight and smell of decay are unpleasant, but they do not create a public health hazard. Don’t touch. Cover.
• Where do you put bodies when the morgues are full?
• The singing and praying is getting more intense..you have to believe!!
• Sorry..no interview
• Dear Australia,no interviews, just tweets.
“Journalism is not a particularly esteemed profession, but its capacity to bear witness remains one of its more redeeming attributes. At moments like this in Haiti, a journalist’s function as a witness can be relatively uncomplicated, in comparison to, say, the processes of political or investigative reporting. In the field during a natural disaster of this scale, you do feel at times ghoulish and intrusive upon both the grief of survivors and in relation to the more directly useful efforts of rescuers and humanitarian relief workers. And yet all of those classes of participants in the crisis will recognize, most of the time, that journalism helpfully amplifies their own condition or potential.”
“Technology, increasingly, makes us all witnesses to crises. And yet, only those journalists intrepid enough to find their way forward, independently, can focus our lenses.
The New Yorker’s piece is a must-read.
Mario García, the well known Cuban American newspaper designer, writes in his blog after a review on how the international press has done presenting the news from Haiti, and ends his post asking about the Haitian papers.
“Although I have tried to get a pdf of a Haitian newspaper, I have not been able to do so. Perhaps they are not even publishing, but if anyone has access to a Haitian newspaper, please do send me a pdf.”
Are you kidding?
Here in Wales, we had a lot of snow in the recent weeks, so milk was not deliver, posted mail was late, food supplies didn’t arrive… but John, our loyal and brave newspaper boy (that must be in his late 50′s), delivered the papers to our front door everyday.
With no excuses.
He is my hero!
But to ask about what ad how the papers in Haiti are doing is too much.
Just go to the web and see what they have online.
It’s as tragic as the earthquake.
This country, yes, is very poor, so you cannot expect too much for their on and off line new operations.
And here is the proof from today’s homepages.
Life as normal?
Soft news day for the Haiti Star:
Here, at least, the front a picture tells the real story:
The Haiti Progress, an “alternative” voice, is almost out of business, just talking about…Peru:
The Haitian Times is in real news business, but continues offering appropriate advertising when the population goes almost naked, and I suppose not too much interesting in lose weight:
Le Nouvelliste does better than the rest, but still keeps a non sense poll that sounds like asking a dying country if they prefer to have holidays in the French Riviera or Cascais:
And they have created this special bare website that delivers real pictures and real news from the chaos.
So I don’t know Mario about any print papers here, but don’t expect too much.
If, as Leo Bogart used to say, “the crisis of newspapers is always the crisis of their cities”, Haiti is a dead matket.
INNOVATION’s Daniel Lozano is in Haiti, covering the news for PUBLICO.
In a very dramatic way.
He writes today:
“Nothing works. The stores are empty and closed. There are no services. No water. No electricity. The hospitals don’t work… the aid doesn’t arrive”
He landed in Haiti via Jimaní (Dominican Republic).
He sleeps in the streets.
Nobody wants to sleep inside any building.
The tremors continue all the time.
The only hotel rooms available…are full with journalists!
The president of Haiti left his palace in a mototaxi…
Since the earthquake he wears the same clothes.
Seven ministry buildings are in ruins.
The telecommunication towers are down.
The frontier with the Dominican Republic is the only way to escape or bring help.
The Dominican Republic people are helping very much.
Daniel is a fantastic reporter.
Always in the right place.
Covering real news.
In the old fashion way.
That’s the only way to cover the news!
A real expert of the Latin American volcano.
So, today I got a very short message from him.
“Juan Antonio, I am in Haiti. I never in my life saw something like this. It looks like the end of the world”
Very sad news.
Int he USA, text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief.
Editor&Publisher is alive again.
Glad to know.
But I am getting tire of this kind ob obituaries.
The same with the UK Press Gazette.
But let’s be clear.
Editor&Publisher was for many years a boring, bland and PR outlet for the big newspapers companies.
Do you remember the covers?
Big ads each week from a big company.
It was a safe magazine.
Always ready to publish your press releases, and with the other hand get some ads.
Happy news for happy editors and publishers.
Then, one day, the magazine changed hands and they started to do, well, real Journalism.
Just covering the industry.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
And, of course, the industry didn’t like it.
I have old friends that were involved in this failed turn.
I respect them very much.
And they could explain better than me the real story.
Unfortunately, the newspaper industry said, OK, guys, you want to cover us in a real way, well then forget about our ads.
And they died.
Or, better, they were killed.
That’s the real story of the old Editor&Publisher and the UK Press Gazette print editions.
They are now trying to survive as online products.
Good luck, you deserve it, and we need you.
My friend Denis Finley, editor of The Virginian-Pilot, explains:
“A disturbing image from the earthquake in Haiti appears on the front page of the Virginian-Pilot today. We typically refrain from publishing photos of the dead, but the tragedy in Haiti is unprecedented. To sanitize the story by publishihg a “safe” photograph would be an abdication of our responsibility to you. We believe this photograph captures the anguish and the toll better than any words ever could.”
(Via Charles Apple)
I just got the sad news that Antonio Fontan is dead.
He was the editor of Madrid, the iconic newspaper that was shut down and blow up by the Franco Regime in 1972.
In the picture he is with some of the editors of the paper in front a picture of the final destruction of the building’s paper.
The government suspended the newspaper, which was in favor of democracy and against the authoritarian rule of General Fanco.
Fontán was prosecuted on 19 occasions and fined 10 times.
In October 1971 the authorities demanded Fontán’s resignation, closing down the paper for good a few weeks later.
The International Press Institute (IPI) named him one of the “Heroes of Press Freedom.”
Later he became the first Senate President of Spain’s democracy.
Founder of the University of Navarre School of Journalism, Antonio Fontan was one of the most charismatic and brilliant personalities of the Spanish press.
In 2008 he was made Marqués de Guadalcanal by the King Juan Carlos I as an hommage to their contributions to the political freedom and civil peace in Spain.
I was editor of NUESTRO TIEMPO, a current affairs magazine founded by him, and I had some wonderful meetings, moments that I will never forget.
“Don Antonio” as we used to call him, was a real gentleman, a master and a role model for many young journalists of my generation.
We will miss him very much.