Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, Managing Editor of The Root, an online magazine published by The Washington Post providing news and commentary from varying black perspectives, spoke at Goucher College last week about media coverage following last year’s earthquake in Haiti.
He addressed several shortcomings of American media, most of which he said were exemplified through coverage of this crisis.
Dreyfuss’ main talking point was that reporters and large media outlets didn’t take enough into account the complex history and culture of Haiti and its people. He mentioned how most journalists who were sent to Haiti were briefed with ten-page packets merely containing the most important moments in Haitian history. Because of this limited knowledge of history, stories that touched on more deep-seated, longstanding issues were missed.
I had dinner with Mr. Dreyfuss before his lecture, and he asked us if we were sure that we wanted to go into the field of journalism. We all nodded our heads in assent, yet after listening to him speak about all the problems journalism has today, I was a bit confused. I reminded him of that question he asked at dinner, and I asked him what he would advise for a young person who wants to address those problems?
I appreciated his answer, which was simple, honest and realistic. He said that for the most part, those who have worked in the media for years are jaded, and that journalism needs youth and enthusiasm.
He summed his answer up in two words: “Do it.”