a negative capability scrapbook
The need for good editors remains.
Bah, you’re telling me, but no one has time, and no one wants to pay for it! I just read a big fancy expensive hardback book by a celebrity academic and it was full of stupid typos. He must be furious.
I’m waiting for someone to illustrate this as a lolcat.
Jean yes, it’s so annoying. But as information sifting skills become more and more valued perhaps old-stylee editorial rigour will come back into fashion too.
Karen – me too!
It’s an interesting article, and props to Global Voices and Sameer Padania for honourable mentions, but the proposition that foreign correspondents are going to disappear is of course ridiculous. I presume Bill Thompson trades on provocative pronouncements.
That’s one of those curious phrases that despite and/or because of its error contains small truths.
BBC News has FAIL for ever.
Oh dear I do hope not. I think the BBC is, in part, a Very Good Thing. In part. Quite a small part, actually, but at least a bit of it.
Why do you think it ridiculous that proper foreign correspondents should disappear? They have been disappearing throughout my professional lifetime, replaced by stringers and wire services. It used to be a huge part of their job to read the daily papers looking for interesting things. Now this can be done without leaving home. Much more likely is that the London correspondent will vanish, since it’s too expensive to keep them living there.
I didn’t, you’ll notice, employ the word “proper”. I’m not sure how I’d define that, and I can’t be sure what you mean by it. Also I know quite a few people employed by wire services as “foreign” correspondents in that they are not natives of the country about which they report.
I think foreign correspondents, people of one nationality reporting on a country not their own, are not going to disappear for two reasons, one positive and one negative.
I can’t see an agency like Xinhua giving up its foreign correspondents in a hurry. Whatever you may think of its coverage it employs Chinese nationals to report on countries not their own for reasons of language and, obviously, politics. Such reasons aren’t going to disappear and are not confined to China. That’s the negative reason.
The positive reason is what I shall call for the want of a better term the power of witness. It would be ridiculous to imagine covering an event like the Rwandan genocide, for instance, relying entirely on accounts from Rwandans.
There’s another reason why I think this is an important issue. There is a danger that the orthodoxy becomes that only those within a country/region/race/gender/religion/any definition you care to mention are “qualified” to report on it. I have seen this, in my limited experience, operating as what I presume is a manifestation of post-colonial guilt in various UK organisations about reporting on former colonies. But what of initiatives such as that by David Dunkley Gyimah who took Ghanaian journalists to cover South Africa? Were they not foreign correspondents? Were their views, experiences, reports, redundant? The reductio ad absurdum would be that only a person with deep religious conviction could be a religious affairs correspondent.
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