Saturday, December 29, 2007

Orb Reporting

Without Correspondents In Pakistan, TV Networks Rely on Producers and Part-Timers - NYT Blog

I've heard for several years now on the problem of U.S. global media coverage and the downsizing or outright closing of foreign offices. This was first noticed after 9/11 when correspondents were sent to all sorts of places almost at random since no media organization had a clear idea of where the next media event would happen. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, it was only ABC and CNN who were among the U.S. media companies on location when the assassination happened. Every other news organization had to rely on freelance correspondents or simple wire reports. The BBC does maintain a large global operation but for Americans this doesn't really help the situation any. When I first heard of the assassination I immediately when to the Washington Post, the NY Times, the BBC and the Guardian Online (another British, leftist paper) and got a series of conflicting reports. Some of the basic information was the same while others differed significantly, particularly on the matter of whether it was a single sniper/suicide bomber or two men operating in tandem. This kind of confusion of reporting is unsurprising now since out of the four only the BBC had a correspondent on hand in Pakistan.
With the constant questioning of media bias, the issue of global coverage is essential when events in other nations can have a serious impact on our national and economic security. Yes, we can read local papers but often we have less of an idea of their biases than we do of our own media organizations. When and how information is presented plays an critical role in how the narrative of an event is crafted. For those who rely on only one or two sources of news, one can see how the lack of on-scene global coverage becomes a problem. Who is doing the writing, the editing and the presentation (anchor or correspondent) are questions left unanswered and are difficult to answer.
This age of globalized information requires a constant skepticism of whether the reporting is accurate or whether a spin has been placed on the event. The use of multiple news sources does mitigate this problem but only slightly so when those multiple sources rely on wire reports or a single nexus of information. So let this post be a reminder to always seek alternative sources of information, to check the biases of the reporting and to always question how the reporting is presented.

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