It's Friday morning … I am officially "off the radar." After awakening at 5:45 a.m., the morning copy editor informed me that, for the first time since my arrival here, my services would not be needed on the all important 7:00 a.m. CBS Radio hourly newscast - that she'd use earlier material and would like to have some debriefs for later use. I've had only one request for an affiliate "two way" - an interview with one of the hundreds of radio stations who carry CBS News. There were probably 30 requests on my first day here.
It's a sign that the media are losing interest, that other news stories such as health care and John Edward's illegitimate daughter have, once again, become more important in the big picture. Maybe even Conan O'Brien, too.
Our TV crew has been tearing down much of the infrastructure flown in at great expense. The live, satellite location at the Hotel D'Haiti? Gone. One of two uplinks here at our headquarters at La Maison is being struck as I write, with thousands of pounds of equipment being trucked back to Santo Domingo, then flown to the U.S. A pared down crew (from a high of more than 30 to about half that number) will remain here, so we won't be "gone," but the days of an hour-long CBS "Evening News" dedicated to the quake are over.
This is the law of evolution in the media. We swoop in, big time, and leave when the story becomes, pretty much, the same story day after day. There will be more stories here, and like Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami, these stories will unfold over several years. Most American media won't stay here through the entire time, but we'll be back.
CBS News will still cover Haiti on TV, radio and online. I've been the lone radio reporter here for CBS; Vicki Barker from our London bureau replaces me today. I have a little time off ahead, then a space shuttle flight, maybe the Super Bowl, and, of course, the usual assortment of Florida and national news I cover from my Orlando base.
On one hand, I'm glad to be going home, to my own bed, laundry and showers , my two cats and especially to a woman who's been there, done that and totally understands how important it is to come home to a lot of TLC after an assignment like this. But on the other hand, I feel as if I have unfinished business here. Kind of like the Haitian government and all the relief workers.
I'm taking away a lot of horrific memories from here, but there are many good ones, too. All those people who rushed here to try to help, especially the U.S. military and medical professionals. Haitians dressed in their Sunday best, with perfectly pressed shirts, pants and dresses at church services after the quake. Smiles among the desperate faces. The cheery dispositions of my guides and drivers, despite losing homes and loved ones last week. And perhaps, most of all, their resolve to move forward.
I leave with new appreciation for what I have, and a solemn reminder that while I get to go home to relative luxury, Haitians already living without face lives with even less for years. Maybe all of our news coverage will help break the cycle and expose the flaws here. Part of me is glad to be getting out. But another part of me can't wait to come back and see how it all turns out.