LOS ANGELES: Academy award-winning actor, activist and humanitarian Sean Penn has criticized the world’s media – especially “left-leaning media” – for ignoring the “good news” about Haiti.
The actor has been an advocate for Haiti since it was devastated by the deadly 7.0 earthquake that left thousands homeless in 2010. He co-founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization and became its chairman and CEO, going on to be honoured with the Nobel Laureates’ Peace Prize for his ongoing efforts in the stricken country.
Four years after the disaster, Penn claims media outlets that were initially interested in Haiti’s recovery have now turned their backs on the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation and are not covering the positive news about the country’s comeback.
Speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles last week, Penn said of the French-speaking nation’s growing economy: “This is a miracle unreported.”
The actor/director, who has raised millions for Haiti, is now encouraging news producers to refocus their attention on Haiti in a bid to improve tourism, build on what Haitians have already achieved, and attract foreign investment.
“No one is asking for a handout,” said Penn. “It’s not a beggar culture. Everyone is asking for a job.”
Penn compared Haitian relief to filmmaking.
“Especially in emergency relief – the best time to get the set built is yesterday,” he said. “It’s like the movie business, but with higher stakes.”
Penn said during his early work in Haiti, much like the film business, “there were too many meetings and not enough decisions being made”, so he co-founded his organization.
The panel discussion was hosted by Margaret Brennan of CBS News and also included Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien.