Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why overseas news stories need overseas reporters

In a previous post I reported my sense that there was something disingenuous about the US news media's focus on Eastern European "outrage" at Obama's down-scaling of the Bush missile defense program.  (It was not as if Poles or Czechs were footing the bill for the missile system).  A new report suggests there was  something else strange about the way  the US media reported that story:   CD reports:
The majority of Czech and Polish people never supported these proposed U.S. military bases -- though one would never know it from reading the American media with its recent headlines about the cancellation of the bases such as "Eastern Europe Grumbles About Downgrade in US Ties," "Poles, Czechs: US Missile Defense Shift a Betrayal," or, perhaps most preposterous of all, "Eastern Europe Not Feeling the Love From Obama." These headlines make the classic error of presuming that the views of governments are necessarily the same as those of the people.
That's an important distinction to keep in mind. When US policy satisfies foreign governments, yet makes local populations unhappy, Americans' long-term interests are generally not served.  Remember the Shaw of Iran?   This kind of thing has undoubtedly happened more frequently than the mainstream media has led Americans to believe.  

As we all know, foreign correspondents are in alarmingly short supply these days.  News agencies should not be reporting overseas stories from offices in Washington D.C. or London.   Rewriting foreign government press releases is not journalism!

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