Beth Macy, a reporter at The Roanoke Times, presented Life and Death in the Time of Cholera today as a part of Communications Week at Radford University. In November 2010, Macy had the opportunity to go to Haiti to report on a surgery that was taking place on a young boy that was going to be heading to the U.S. for medical attention, but a sickle-cell infection prevented that from happening. As that situation occurred, Macy soon realized that this trip was going to take a very different turn from which she first expected.
Originally planning on staying in Port-au-Prince then St. Louis de Nord the whole time, Macy was sent to a hospital in Cap Haitien. There she described scenes of malnourished Haitians in need of medical attention that was never going to be offered to them. She saw there was a severe lack in supplies as well as ability to maintain such a great number of suffering people. With an outbreak of Cholera emerging throughout the hospital, there was estimation that nearly 650,000 patients would contract the disease during their stay at the hospital.
Throughout her weeklong coverage in Haiti, Macy explained to the nearly 200-person audience at Radford the importance of a journalist’s five senses. They must all be used to fully portray the scene he or she hopes to later explain to readers or viewers. Macy also reminded future journalists to keep reporting at all times. Take notes when there is a free minute to remind yourself later of what is going on around you. Also, she admitted that in dealing with stressful and scary events, it’s not until later that fear or anger can be processed. In order to get the facts, a good reporter should reflect back on what he or she encountered.
My favorite part of her presentation was when she told students that “people change…the story’s never finished.” In order to fully cover or grasp an idea or situation, a reporter should stick with it. After the presentation and a question and answer portion, I got the opportunity to speak with Macy, who agreed to let me shadow her for a day at The Roanoke Times. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of learning more about a usual day for her, and to get even more of an impression of her time spent in Haiti.
For more information regarding Beth Macy’s experiences in Haiti, check out her blog from The Roanoke Times.