October 17, 2007

Short sighted Florida paper shuts down foreign reporting

I am trying to think of all the ways to curse and condemn the publisher of the Sun-Sentinel of south Florida.

In a move of extreme stupidity and sand-in-the-head thinking, the publisher closed the entire international/foreign desk operations of his paper.

The link below is from a blog at the free area paper.


At a time when our political, economic, and social structure is becoming more and more linked with the rest of the world, this publisher is sticking his head in the sand and asking his readers to join him.

The issue has never been "Americans don't care about reporting from other countries." Rather it has been "Americans don't understand why something happening in another country is relevant."

Finding relevance and context to stories is the job of journalists.

It is not hard to find links between political or economic developments in other countries and the States. (And I mean something other than wars, revolutions, migration and natural disasters.)

For the first quarter of this year Florida exports were worth $10.5 billion. Last year's exports were at $38 billion.

I guess this large percentage of the Florida economy doesn't count.

I do not argue that every newspaper needs to have foreign bureaus but they should have an editor who looks out for the international news and how it relates to the local audience.

The Sun-Sentinel is making the same mistake so many others who pull back from international reporting make. It's not that people don't like to read news from overseas, it's that they don't like to read poorly written stories that have no relevance to them.

Just dropping in an AP or Reuters story about a mudslide in Colombia means nothing to most readers in the States. But the expropriation by a government of the property of a company with headquarters in the area should -- and does -- mean something to local readers.

Too bad the readers of the Sun-Sentinel will never know what is going on in the world if they stay with just that paper.

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