Brianna Dacius (view this story)

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Rep: 38
Kevin Wellenius July 16, 2010, 6:02 p.m. permalink

This is a great story set-up: Fabiola's daughter is visiting her grandmother in Haiti when the earthquake strikes. With this kind of set-up, though, I would have expected to hear a lot about Fabiola's fear and anxiety as she worked the phones and couldn't get through; disbelief at the first news of the quake; her efforts to get any information she could at all. The voiceover tells us that "days passed before Fabiola ... reached her mother-in-law." I'd have gone crazy.

But what we hear in the piece "the first thing I said is, 'are you okay?' She tells me 'yes.' I ask 'what about Brianna..." Somehow that expected sense of panic just isn't there. Similarly, the voiceover says "it took two months for Brianna's parents to get her back." But we hear nothing about this next incredible phase of the ordeal. Why did it take so long? What hurdles did the parents face? How did they keep in touch during that time? How did Brianna adjust to the transition (we hear only that she keeps asking for her "mama Lermithe.")

Instead, we move into how Lermithe is one of Haiti's 1.3 million homeless, living either in dilapidated buildings that might crumble or in tents as the rainy season approaches. While this is an important issue, it lacks the immediacy of this unique story you found. Literally millions of Haitians, unfortunately, could speak to extended homelessness following the quake. But only Brianna and her family can speak to her unique ordeal.

Technically, there are some very good images (the garbage-bag boots and the image that precedes it are particularly informative) while there are also some redundant portraits. The audio quality sounds like the recording was high quality, but it sounds like it's been compressed too much. Also, you might look into video player options that let us see the piece at a larger size (JWPlayer if you want to host your own, or embedding from Vimeo are two common approaches).

OK, so it probably sounds like a laundry list of criticisms, but they come from the recognition that you dug up a really really fascinating story topic, which in my mind is the topmost goal of doing this kind of work.

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