I wanted to bring over some spillover from a discussion over at Radio Open Source about the “Death of the Foreign Correspondent”. For anyone not familiar with the term, the Foreign Correspondent would be that person who appears either in print, audio or video reporting from some far away place telling us – the audience at home – what is happening there and why.
I haven’t listened to the show yet, by the initial post is about how more and more media outlets are closing down their foreign bureaus. This is, above all, to save on costs, but according to some.. it is also because there is a lack of interest for news from certain parts of the world. So they’re getting rid of the position or they’re merging with the foreign desk of another media company.
The post and the podcast ask the question, what are we losing as media consumers who want to know what is happening in the world around us… including in far away countries. Some of the comments bring up the point that we are losing alot, in terms of expertese and information, that the correspondents had long provided in ways few others could.
In certain cases I think this is a valid point, as historically there are great individuals who have played that role in media from far off places.
However I would say this is a great occasion for the rise of blogs, podcasts, and vlogs. This is the moment where we can and we will – fill in. Because, first — there will be a void, a void of information and understanding, and where else will people turn than the internet for information about places that their old media outlet isn’t giving them. second – because we are here and we want the world to understand what is happening where we are. By we I mean anyone anywhere. You sitting in Brazil are certainly a potential foreign correspondant to someone in the Netherlands. You there in New York City are a fine candidate for correspondent to someone in New Delhi.
Sure they will argue that you aren’t trained properly or that you aren’t reporting on the right issues.. but in the end.. that is up to the user to decide… the consumer.. the viewer/listener/reader. And furthermore, as someone who did extensive university level training in journalism, I- for one- saw that -in fact- this is no elite group of geniuses, plenty of people are capable of acquiring the necessary equipment, knowledge, and will..to start broadcasting their experience or the experience of something taking place right now, somewhere in the world.
These are the new foreign correspondents… and the best part.. is that they have the capacity to be better informed and more genuine than any sweet talking, khaki vest wearing, veteran news correspondent from super-giant-network news.