...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Friday, August 17, 2007


What’s going on? The other day the earth shook in Peru. I saw it on NBC’s Today show. They went to a correspondent, monitoring the situation…in London. They showed late-breaking video – from Al Jazeera International – the new English-language TV news channel that no American cable or satellite company will touch with a ten-foot dish.

What’s this all about? Why is Ned Colt narrating a report about Lima, Peru, from London? Well, I assume it’s because NBC has no employee based south of Dallas, Texas, who could cover the story on the scene. So, we get pictures gathered by an employee or correspondent of an Arab-owned, Emirate-based news operation, and the voice of nobody in Lima.

American news organizations, even newspapers, have cut their overseas staffs to the bone. I won’t presume to guess at the business motives that have resulted in the shrinkage of on-the-spot staffing of whole swaths of the globe by U.S. news media. My question for today: why shouldn’t I rely on BBC, NPR, and Al Jazeera for international news, when NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox are focused on domestic ambulance chasing, political shouting matches, and celebrity hijinks? Is this our fault? Are Americans so disinterested in the rest of the world, except to complain about, that we don't want our reporters telling us about it?

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