The Week’s Worthwhile Reads

The United States of Haiti?                                                                    Newly back from Haiti, Pooja Bhatia draws parallels between the beloved “dysfunctional little country” she left behind and the direction her homeland appears to be heading.

“…ensconced back home in the U.S., the Land of Plenty, I see reminders of Haiti everywhere,” Bhatia writes in an article for the Daily Beast. “Our infrastructure is crumbling. The able-bodied and quick-brained can’t find work. The chasm between the super-rich and everyone else has so widened that our elites seem to inhabit a different country.”

Overstated? Perhaps. But she raises some good questions. And I’m always pleased to see pieces that spotlight Haiti–a rarity since the earthquake-induced reporting frenzy died down and the majority of journalists moved on to other crises du jour.

The Amanda Knox Case and Journalistic Neutrality                                Speaking of media frenzies, the wrap-up of the Amanda Knox appeal and subsequent acquittal of the accused had more than 400 reporters descending on poor Perugia, which just wants to go back to being known for its chocolate. More interesting, is the polarization within both the public and the media over Knox’s perceived guilt or innocence. Shades of gray are all but nonexistent in the sensationalized murder case: the Seattle student is either a duplicitous, sexually-charged killer or the the victim of a sexist, arcane legal system.

Oddly, such polarization has crept into some of the media coverage, specifically within the reporting of two high-profile journalists. Rome-based Barbie Nadeau who has covered Italy for Newsweek for a number of years sides with the “guilty” camp, while Nina Burleigh, who moved to Perugia to write a book on the case, believes that Knox was a victim of misogyny at its worst.  

But where is the line between reporter and advocate? asks the New York Times. And to what extent should a journalist allow her opinions to bleed through her reporting?

Snuff, Barf & Amusement Parks: Scenes from the Real Afghanistan 

With the 10-year anniversary of the Afghan war upon us, news pieces are rife with images of beleaguered soldiers and bombings. Daniel C. Britt takes a different approach with his photo essay  featuring the daily life and customs of residents of the western city of Herat.  His photos of the everyday rhythms of the city provide a refreshingly unique glimpse of a country that has sadly become synonymous with strife, mortar attacks and desperation.

Professionals Don’t Write for Free & the Pitching Pie                              Over at Writer Abroad, Chantal laments that even after years as a professional writer, editors still approach her about writing for free or, gulp, the dreaded “exposure.” She has had it (even while acknowledging that said gripe has been done to death on writing blogs). I say keep at it. If enough writers say “fuck you, pay me! often enough, these so-called editors may eventually get the hint.

For fellow freelance sorts, travel writer Lola Akinmade has put together a nifty freelance pitch pie chart documenting her submission history since 2008. Recently republished on the Matador Notebook, Akinmade’s 3-D rendering is highly recommended to newbies curious about the time, patience and effort required (141 pitches, yikes!) to get rolling as an independent writer.

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