From Blogothon: The Axis of Indifference In The Media Worl
By Danny Schechter
Danny Schechter "dissects" media but he also makes independent documentaries and videos after years as a network producer. This is an essay about the difficulties of distributing content that challenges the mainstream narrative. It appears in his new book, Blogothon (Cosimo Books). It was originally given as a speech to a media conference and has been updated sligh
Foreign correspondents have always been revered within journalism. That's why covering Iraq or other wars are assignments so many reporters cultivate. Many see them as a ticket up the media pecking order.
Being "under fire" promise excitement, danger and--let's face it, on TV --precious "face time." Going overseas is often a route to more visibility and better jobs at home on the strength of your "bravery/" War reporting can be the macho oxygen of ambition.
Just as covering a turbulent world is attractive in the ranks, up in the suites of media power "foreign news" is, according to Michael Wolff, a "nostalgist's beat' said to turn off American audiences and tune them out. That's why decisionmakers shutter bureaus and redefine news of the world as news of American power in the world. (They also realize financial savings by doing so, of course.)
In an age of globalization, as global news grows more important, it is covered less.
The network challenge is how to appear to be covering the world without really covering it. Fox created "the world in a minute;" CNN countered with "the global minute."
For our company Globalvision, now in its 25th year, this downgrading of international reporting represents a threat to our raison d'etre and very existence.
When two "network refugees," Rory O' Connor (ex-PBS and CBS) and I (ex-CNN and ABC) launched our enterprise, we believed a changing world demanded more coverage beyond our borders. We saw it as a way to promote understanding, tolerance and peaceful change. Our response to those who insist "Americans are not interested" was to demonstrate that audiences respond when programs are interesting.
We gambled our careers on the notion that world affairs could make for compelling television when produced another way--from the inside out, and the bottom up, by collaborating with colleagues in other countries. We were driven by a moral imperative to document the inspiring struggle for human rights in South Africa and an in other hotspots. We learned that telling untold stories moves audiences to care and to act.
We still believe that. And a world of journalists still knock on our door with fascinating stories we all need to know. Especially after the events of 9/11 demonstrated the consequences of ignoring grievances elsewhere on our planet. Why people hate us or love us or need us are still urgent themes.
Many polls show Americans want to know more about the world if only because, as a nation of immigrants, many have of us ties to other cultures or business entanglements overseas. Ask the producers of the popular TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes. They'll tell you that ratings do not dip when an international segment airs.
You would think that at a time like this, an experienced award-winning international media company like ours would be needed more than ever.