I’m an unabashed NPR junkie, and like many people I have been glued to the radio this week while listening to news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. I wish that I could speak or read Haitian Kreyol, but like many other FR<>EN translators I did take the step of applying to Translators Without Borders.
While browsing freelance journalist and editor Michelle Rafter’s blog WordCount: Freelancing in the digital age, I came across her fascinating post called The story behind the story, about how media outlets, including NPR, are covering the Haitian earthquake. I then clicked through to this fascinating blog post by NPR’s ombudsman Alicia Shephard, who gives a timeline of what happened at NPR from the moment the quake struck, an hour into NPR’s flagship evening news program. It’s especially interesting to read how news outlets are using new media tools like Twitter to distribute and receive information when phone communications break down.
While listening to the earliest reports from the NPR reporters who arrived in Haiti soon after the earthquake, I was struck by the fact that I had never (even after events like 9/11) heard seasoned reporters break down in tears during live coverage; I couldn’t fathom what the scene on the ground must be like if these people, whose careers consist largely of covering war zones, murders, natural disasters and terrorist attacks were overwhelmed by the tragedy they were seeing. Very interesting reading, and if anyone knows of ways for translators to help smaller organizations that might be less overwhelmed with volunteers, please post them in the comments!