On the afternoon of January 12, 2010, I posted this item: Haiti: A dangerous gap. After an excerpt from a New York Times report on the earthquake that had struck just a couple of hours before, I wrote:
I link to this report not because I'm interested in earthquakes, but because I can't find a single local Haitian online news source that reports this event. That tells me Haiti's sorrows include a very grave gap in its communications with the rest of the world.
For our own self-interest, the industrial world should make sure that Haiti and other impoverished countries can let us know what's going on, even in an earthquake or a pandemic.
The public-health implications of earthquakes and other natural disasters eventually sank in, but immediately after the quake I felt completely barricaded from Haitian news. A few French-language sources were online, but computer translation was chancy. Not until the cholera outbreak ten months later was I able to find more or less reliable Haiti-based reports. Even then, the news from Haiti was the doubtfulness of the news from Haiti.
And so it has gone for the past four years. If the foreign agencies that really run the country had provided equipment and training to the Haitian government, and the government had had the wish to use online media, we would now be far better informed than we have been.