Ben Solomon, New York Times International Video Journalist, spoke to students and faculty on Monday about his experiences around the globe. He particularly focused on his recent months in Liberia, one of three countries impacted most by the current Ebola outbreak. Through his videos, Solomon brings a human element to the numbers and statistics of the epidemic.
“People are learning from the videos and people are gaining experience by seeing them,” Solomon said.
Solomon went to Liberia knowing it would be interesting to follow an ambulance and show the variety of situations encountered each day. In three and a half weeks, he shot his piece, “Fighting Ebola Outbreak Street by Street.” Much of that time was spent proving to the ambulance driver, Gordon Kamara, that his video work was worthy. However, after putting in the time, Solomon says gaining Gordon’s trust was one of the most satisfying things in journalism. The clip is difficult to watch, capturing the struggle, tragedy, and frustration of the Ebola virus.
At the speaker event, Solomon detailed his experience with Ebola, addressing his own emotions in close proximity to the virus.
“I felt very confident in my safety there,” Solomon said. “But that’s not to say I wasn’t scared.”
He described Ebola as an “intimate” disease, one that goes between loved ones who touch one another. The disease tears families and communities apart, preventing people from interacting with sick patients.
“[Ebola] destroys trust in a powerful and sad way,” Solomon said.
The second clip, “Dying of Ebola at the Hospital Door,” shows the difficulties Ebola patients face in accessing treatment. Centers are overcrowded and understaffed, leaving some patients to wait for hours while other are turned away.
Although the news coverage of the outbreak is dwindling, Solomon warns against getting comfortable and thinking that the outbreak is ending.
“Epidemics move in waves,” he said.
The last clip shown at the event, “Inside the Ebola Ward,” sheds light on the conditions of the treatment centers by taking viewers inside their walls. The clips are worth viewing, providing visuals to contextualize the information in the news.
As one of the workers says in the treatment center, “There is no mercy from Ebola.”