I have been musing in the late night hours of newborn awakedness about many things.
As the election progressed, I kept being reminded that we have become a very insular country, and have stopped getting really good reporting from the rest of the world. We thus don’t always understand what is going on elsewhere, and this lack of understanding certainly contributes to some wacky positioning by candidates vis-a-vis foreign policy.
I am especially reminded of this when I visit other news sites from outside of the US (particularly the BBC & Al-Jazeera). I know that Al-Jazeera has had correspondents on the ground all over the world (including in Northern Mali throughout the rebellion up there).
Our large papers, radio & tv stations / wire services used to have correspondents based in other places around the globe – people who knew what was going on and had local contacts. When stories needed to be told and conveyed with depth & nuance and in a way Americans could understand – that could be done. These people have been brought back stateside, or those positions converted to stringer positions where folks on the ground hustle and sell stories to whatever media outlet wants them.
Contrast this to the explosive growth of sports media. 15 years ago there was not much in the way of sports coverage – certainly not in the way we know it now. Now – our news organizations all send multiple people to major games in many major sports all over the globe – even for sports Americans are not traditionally fond of watching. I’m sure there are probably at least 10-20 reporters for American outlets at major European soccer tournaments.
What does that say about our willingness to be distracted by sport? Are we willing to pay to be distracted, but not pay to be informed? How do we expect to stay ahead of what is going on in the world if we don’t pay professionals to dig out stories and tell them to us in ways that help us better understand the world around us?
Being now in a data frame of mind – I’d love to get real numbers around these things – how many foreign positions existed 5/10/15/20/25/30 years ago? How many new sports journalist positions have been added by US outlets in the past 5/10/15 years? Did this shift happen only in the US – or are other markets affected similarly?