Miami Herald Wins Pulitzer for Haiti Photos

  • Posted on: 21 April 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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Patrick Farrell won a Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the devastation caused by a series of tropical storms that devastated several cities throughout Haiti, though none so much as Gonaives and Cabaret.  His stark photography captures the heart-ache of the many families who lost loved ones.  As is usually the case in Haiti, children pay the heaviest price for inaction. 



According to Herald writer Andres Viglucci, Farrell, 49, went to Haiti four times over several weeks during last year's hurricane season, capturing scenes of the dead and the survivors of a series of storms that generated devastating floods across the impoverished nation.


Viglucci goes on to note that Farrell's published photographs, along with articles by Miami Herald Caribbean correspondent Jacqueline Charles and reporter Trenton Daniel, are credited with helping raise international awareness of the storms' toll on Haiti and speeding relief aid to Haitians struggling to survive in the aftermath.  To that we must also add the aerial photography of Matthew Marek, a Red Cross employee and one of the first to survey Gonaives.


We've all seen disturbing photos from the aftermath of the floods and Farrel's are deeply troubling.  Some are so intense that there was internal debate about whether they should be published at all.  But publish them, we must.  When we talk about policies, programs, and development plans it can sometimes seem that we are discussing something theoretical.  But what we must always remember is that we are talking about lives, not statistics. These children died from a lack of will, a lack of action, a lack of coordination.  Any time a child dies, it is a tragedy.  But to know that we can save the lives of children from future disasters, and to not do so, that would be a greater disaster yet.


Farrell himself is the father of two young girls and was deeply shaken by the work of documenting the deaths.  ''If any new attention is paid to Haiti because of this prize, that's the most important thing..."


Anders Gyllenhaal, The Herald's executive editor, said Farrell's photos and their ability to help effect change are proof of the power of traditional journalism at a time when newspapers are besieged by economic difficulties and questions over their long-term viability.  ''This says so much about this newspaper and the power of still photography in a world that moves so fast,'' Gyllenhaal told the assembled staff.  According to the Herad, Monday's Pulitzer for breaking news photography is the 20th awarded to The Miami Herald, which last won a Pulitzer in 2007 for a series exposing malfeasance in Miami-Dade County's public housing agency.


Take a look at this video clip entitled ''A People in Despair: Haiti's Year Without Mercy" in which Farrell describes the photos and his feelings as he took them.   Additional photos available here and with voice-over here, as well as footage of a presentation he gave on being a photographer in the wake of a major disaster.  The images range from the flooded streets of Gonaives, to the aftermath of a storm-related school collapse in Port-au-Prince, and the deadly toll on children in the rural village of Cabaret who were washed away from their parents' grasp by rushing floodwaters.


In all, more than 800 Haitians died and more than one million were left homeless by the unrelenting storms.  Without the greatest efforts by the Government of Haiti, the International Community, and all of Haiti's friends I fear that this crisis will repeat itself.  I hope his photos convey the sense of urgency.


Congratulations to Farrell for his photography, to Charles for her writing, and to the Miami Herald for its consistently high quality coverage of Haiti.  It is a valuable resource and much appreciated. 





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