The recent earthquake that devastated Haiti, says Jack Lule, professor of journalism, is sending shock waves through the enterprise of news reporting.
“In some ways…the Haitian earthquake may mark the most cynical model of mainstream news reporting,” Lule wrote in an op-ed column published Feb. 21 in The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The disaster was exploited for all its horror and then discarded in the wake of the next.
“But perhaps the earthquake can come to mark a shift to a new model, in which the social responsibility of reporting on international affairs passes from mainstream media to social media.”
Lule’s column is titled “Social media keeping Haiti in the news.”
Lule, who has studied news coverage of Haiti for more than 10 years, says the first reports of the earthquake came from survivors through cell phones and from eyewitnesses through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. These and other social media, he adds, have helped charities and other relief organizations raise record amounts of money.
Lule’s column has generated feedback from international reporters, from a legal aid group and from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Information Web Site of Ottawa, which has posted the column to its news section.
Lule directs Lehigh’s Globalization and Social Change Initiative and is author of the book “Daily News, Eternal Stories: The Mythological Role of Journalism.”