- Written by Sallie Hughes
This working paper analyzes the uses and practices of Haitian media in greater Miami -- the newspapers, radio shows, television programs and websites that serve people missed, ignored or neglected by the area’s mainstream media in English and Spanish.
These Creole- and French-language media are playing important roles fostering societal cohesion and immigrant incorporation among the newest and largest Haitian community in the United States. At the same time, they are a key resource that helps Haitians in Miami keep informed about and participate in what is happening in Haiti. In this way, they have a dual function in the community, supporting a transnational mindset and lifestyle that locate Haitians and Haitian Americans simultaneously within the homeland, new land, and the ethnic community. Rather than confuse or confound, Haitian participants found that the simultaneity of homeland-new land experience facilitated by Haitian community media is emotionally soothing and supporting.
While they play important roles in the Haitian community, Haitian media have a number of interrelated weaknesses that were identified by the audience members, media producers and journalists interviewed for the study. The weaknesses are related to three broad areas participants identified as problematic: 1) quality of content including veracity, variety and standards of technical production, 2) financial sustainability, and 3) commitment to transparency, autonomy and public service.
Creation of a non-profit professional association, perhaps called a Haitian Media Association, could help overcome some weaknesses by developing joint financing and marketing mechanisms, shared gathering of news and information, educational programs targeting sector needs, and an ethics code for journalism and other media content.
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