Tuesday, June 04, 2013

How to write about Honduras, or ‘Death, Death, Death!’

It’s been striking how much of the commentary about Honduras in the world press or blogland seems to hit the same strings of clich├ęs, shuffled to suit the bias of the intended audience. It’s been equally striking to see all sorts of claims about the country unsupported by facts, stats or evidence of any kind.
There are notable exceptions, like Alberto Arce, the Associated Press reporter in Tegucigalpa who is doing great work.
Tomas Ayuso offers his take on the lousy writing on the country in ‘Violence and voyeurism: A guide on how to write about Honduras.’
For example:
If you are to include speaking parts for Hondurans in your piece make sure they are one dimensional husks, that although savory are also easy to digest,” Aysuo writes. “Some examples: The crooked cop, the poor farmer, the battered woman, the malnourished footballer and of course, the overwhelmed priest.’
He even offers help with photos.
“Limit your pictures to those of blood strewn over derelict pockmarked streets, or of black smoke and flaming wrecks. If covering a dynamic situation use instead interesting compositions such as small men with large guns, or sweaty human beings screaming. Otherwise a Caribbean sunset with a diagonally dipping palm tree and a silhouette of a gun will suffice.”
Worth a read. And worth remembering when you read many of the comment pieces on Honduras.