Tuesday, November 16, 2010

60 Minutes: Right on Time

Last week, I blogged about a perceived lack of coverage of Haiti following the outbreak of cholera, Hurricane Tomas sideswiping the island nation, and the continuing misery of 1.3 million displaced persons subsisting in refugee camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

Sunday night, 60 Minutes stepped up with a segment on the status of post-quake Haiti.  The segment, titled "Haiti: Frustration and Anger," was significant in that 60 Minutes is the long-running news magazine and one of the staples of the number one U.S. broadcast network.  According to the TV ratings website, Zap2it.com, 60 Minutes took second place to a Fox football broadcast at the 7 PM hour.

Starting out with an interview with the mayor of Carrefour, a town adjacent to Port-au-Prince, Byron Pitts took viewers on an investigation about the slow pace of recovery and the failure of 5 billion dollars in aid to reach people on the ground.  Carrefour is home to a refugee camp on the median of a busy thoroughfare.  The battle to contain the cholera outbreak, rubble removal and reconstruction delays, and the political environment all made it into the story, which ran 12 minutes.

President Bill Clinton and the prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive were the key interviewees.  Given the huge proportion of the population in tent camps, housing is the biggest problem.  The fact that a show with the 12 million viewers of 60 Minutes, a key to CBS ratings success, should draw needed attention to the lack of progress in resolving this and other problems following the tragic disaster in Haiti.

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