American rescue workers pull woman from debris following Haitian earthquake.

In an era of downsized newsrooms and an increased emphasis on local coverage, newspapers like the Boston Globe must pick their spots in covering stories beyond their home base. Thus the Globe’s extensive, ongoing coverage of the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath makes eminent good sense.

As health and science editor Gideon Gil said last night at a presentation by Globe journalists at Northeastern University, the Haiti story is rooted in Boston in two ways: more than 55,000 Haitian-Americans live in the Boston area, making this one of the largest Haitian communities in the country; and Boston’s world-renowned hospitals were (and are) major players in the relief effort.

Speaking and presenting their work were reporter Maria Sacchetti and photographer Bill Greene, who were among the first wave of journalists to arrive in Haiti, and who have focused on the victims; and reporter Stephen Smith and photographer Dina Rudick, who have covered the response by Boston’s medical community.

Both Rudick and Greene shot video as well as still photos. As part of last night’s presentation, they showed two “Haiti Journal” videos (here and here), which serve as a good overview of the Globe’s coverage.

“A story like this in many ways is why you become a journalist,” said Sacchetti.

Greene spoke of the disorientation he experienced after coming back from Haiti and being assigned to cover the pending sale of a $12 million townhouse on Beacon Hill. When one of the people involved in the renovation asked Greene what he thought, he replied, “You don’t want to know what I think. I just came back from Haiti.”

Both Rudick and Smith spoke of the frustration that medical workers experienced when they first arrived in Haiti, as they were forced to camp out on the lawn of the U.S. embassy in Port au Prince, doing nothing, while they waited for supplies and security to be moved into place.

Their reporting, Smith said, reached “the highest levels” of the State and Defense departments, and helped move the relief effort forward.

Rudick called it “one of the most impactful stories I’ve been able to participate in as a journalist.”

Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg via Wikimedia Commons.

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