In the critical 72 hours following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the country lacked almost everything: drinking water, food, basic medical supplies, doctors, lifting equipment, power generators, you name it.
But what it did not lack were journalists. A who’s who of reporters from the great cable networks like CNN and MSNBC were on the ground within hours.
This is not a problem in and of itself, had it not been for the fact that the airport outside of Port-au-Prince was partly damaged and over capacity. This caused long delays for rescue teams trying to land there. Some planes providing aid had to be turned away.
Journalists were in many cases the first people from outside the island to venture into the devastated alleyways of the capital city. Many of them took on an active role helping locals to pull earthquake victims out of the rubble. One CNN journalist reported that he gave his granola bar to a starving earthquake victim.
What these journalists-turned-emergency-rescuers did during those critical hours following the earthquake is nothing but human. If you see suffering and are in the position to help, lending a hand is not only the natural but also the ethical thing to do.
Still, it is my guess that the residents of Port-au-Prince would have preferred to see rescue workers with chain saws instead of journalists with camera equipment coming their way.