I would never want to call myself a “progressive” journalist. There is as much misinformation and distortion of truth on the left as there is on the right. Being raised in the old school of journalism, it has been difficult to find a comfortable niche to explore issues that cycle in and quickly out of the 24-hour news stream. Dick and Sharon’s LA Progressive offers that comfort zone for me, a writer who does not have to write for a living, but who lives to write. Let me offer three important examples.
In the weeks in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, all media, right and left, was fixated on images of the disaster. On a stopover in Miami I was able to attend a disaster conference. It was billed as a “reconstruction” conference, but in reality was venue of opportunism for military and security interests. The main message was that Haiti needed a police state offering global investors the opportunity to take additional advantage of a nation that had been under the thumb of international interests. Haiti was viewed in terms of strategic and military benefits.
Being raised in the old school of journalism, it has been difficult to find a comfortable niche to explore issues that cycle in and quickly out of the 24-hour news stream. Dick and Sharon’s LA Progressive offers that comfort zone for me, a writer who does not have to write for a living, but who lives to write.
No one was covering the fact that Haiti is an hour and a half flight from Miami, yet is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. While Anderson Cooper was covering the aftermath of the earthquake from what is now know as the “Anderson Cooper balcony” at the Le Plaza Hotel, the causes of the devastation and loss of life (shanty housing on unstable hillsides in Port au Prince) were ignored in favor of the pornography of disaster journalism.
Dick and Sharon had no hesitation to publish not only an account of the conference, but they also agreed to publish a series of dispatches from Haiti. As a result of that exposure, another well-known aggregator and blog site took me on to cover the quake aftermath on the ground. Regine Barjon, a focus of my reporting on the “reconstruction conference,” and a woman who boldly stood up to the powers at the conference, told me that that single article made the rounds in world financial circles and resulted in major farming investments. That was not my doing. It was hers. Dick and Sharon gave her a voice through my pen.
You would think that the well-known blog site would offer trust after featuring my earthquake reporting. Not so. In subsequent visits to assess progress or the lack thereof in Haiti, a major investigation fell into my lap. The well-known site would have none of it, since they could not “verify.” Editors refused to publish and told me they only wanted “opinion pieces.” Well, what became known as the Clairin Investigation, first published by Dick and Sharon, is still resonating in the mainstream. “Death in a Bottle For a Handful of Haitian Coins” examined the deaths of 12 to 15 villagers by methanol poisoning in a concoction sold as a traditional drink known as Clairin.
A second investigation followed and found a home with Dick and Sharon. “The tragedy of the Fond Baptiste ‘methanolized’ clairin isn’t the first ‘fake clairin’ to put people’s lives – and livelihoods – in danger,” read the lede in a news story and in-depth investigation by a group of student Haitian journalists (Ayiti Kale Je ) and journalism professor Jane Regan.
The three-part series looked at the ongoing scandal in Haiti over villages poised with methyl alcohol. See part 1, “Haitians Poisoned: Liquid Death,” part 2 “Haitians Poisoned: And Justice?” part 3 “Haitians Poisoned: Fake Clairin.”
Recently, the Miami Herald wrote an investigative piece on the same subject. It took a while for mainstream media to catch on to Haitian public health officials not doing their job. Does this “solve” the problem? No. But the issue can no longer be swept under the rug.
Dick and Sharon have also offered a home to Native American writers. Dana Lone Hill, Winona LaDuke, and Sara Jumping Eagle are important voices from the Great Plains. These women have also influenced my writing to a great extent.
I hope I have made the case that Dick and Sharon deserve your support and that by supporting them, you are promoting work that might not ever see the light of day.
“She was a person who, when confronted with an easy way out, always took the hard way.” ~~Harper Lee