Ellen Hume, Director of the Center on Media and Society at UMass Boston posted a comment on my recent blog post, Global journalism, hiring, firing, and the Internet to let us know about a great new non-profit project, New England Ethnic Newswire. She says it "aims to assemble the best of the region's ethnic news coverage each week, in English, with hotlinks to the original stories, photos, etc." Check it out.
I've been a huge fan of the West Coast based New America Media, which aggregates ethnic media across the U.S. It's fabulous to see more local and community-focused efforts like NEWz cropping up in Massachusetts. Unfortunately the local "mainstream" media hasn't done as good a job as it could at mining the community's globally-connected richness. NEWz may help to change that. Ellen writes:
We consider ourselves a portal for all kinds of activities such as our community blog on "What is My Identity?" with provocative columns and comments. We are aggregating research, links to services, and other resources for immigrants, ethnic communities and budding journalists, and hoping to reach across all the ethnic divides. As a former MSM reporter, I was amazed at some of the cool stories our small guys produced which were overlooked by MSM--such as the story in the Irish Emigrant that nine years ago it cost $95 to become a US ciitizen, now it's $400, and the Bush Administration is suggesting it be raised to $800. So much is going on in these communities and cultures, if only we can unlock it and engage everyone. When we started working with the ethnic media three years ago we were blown away to find over 100 in Boston and we haven't even tracked everyone down yet. Hope you check it out and participate. Comments, volunteers, support and suggestions are welcome!
This got me thinking about what I might do if I was one of those three Boston Globe correspondents being called home to Boston due to the closing of the Globe's last three overseas bureaus. Maybe they should start a "glocal" beat and push to broaden the global outlook of the Globe's reporting even on stories that originate locally. They could work with the folks from NEWz and with PlaceBlogger (also run out of the Boston area), and perhaps even with Global Voices to tie in conversations with the global diasporas that have large communities in Boston.
Thomas Crampton, based in Paris for the IHT says he prefers to consider himself an "overseas correspondent" rather than a "foreign correspondent." One great thing that Ted Turner did back in the days when he had control over CNN was to ban the word "foreign" from newscasts as well as the way management and reporters described our coverage. We used "international" instead.
The word "foreign" denotes things that are happening in some disconnected and remote place that has little to do with our own lives. That's not how the world works anymore and it hasn't been for a long time. (I won't repeat my last rant about this, I'll just link to it.) The news business should purge he word "foreign" from its working vocabulary and replace it with "global." In fact, we should go further and break down the division of news coverage between "domestic" on one hand and "international," "overseas," or "foreign" on the other.
We need a paradigm shift in the way news organizations actually organize, categorize, and approach their coverage if there's going to be a reversal of the U.S. news media's trend toward parochialism, which in turn feeds Americans' frightening levels of ignorance about the rest of the world. Somebody's got to do something. Perhaps the more globally-minded reporters and editors around the U.S. can try to be more assertive about initiating new ways of thinking and new kinds of coverage?