Roger L. Simon

The Myth of the Foreign Correspondent

Two ears, a tail and a hoof go to Tim Blair for his witty deconstruction of a Washington Post article by Jackie Spinner (yes, that’s her real name–not a parody, as it should be in this case). Spinner’s report is about the claims of one “educated Iraqi” about the behavior by American soldiers who discovered his porno collection. They did nothing (other than allegedly–no corroboration–juxtapose the porn with the Koran). The Iraqi hit his mother, obviously for the “crime” of learning about his activities.

This article would seem to be another exercise in conscious/unconscious self-destruction by the mainstream media. Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post in which he sees it as evidence for the proposal for “open sourcing” in reporting (i. e. you can see the reporters raw notes online and evaluate them). I’m all for that, but I think there’s something deeper at play here…

Pace all the money being spent by the NYT, WaPo, etc., what we are witnessing is the decline or even demise of the “Foreign Correspondent,” so romanticized by us Hollywood scriptwriters (see under Hitchcock). A great example of this was the recent Ukrainian revolution. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I learned a great deal more about what was going on from blogs like this one than from any newspaper. The reasons were obvious–the people on the ground knew more. Why wouldn’t they? They had been there all their lives. The Jackie Spinners of the world arrive to be told what’s going on (in a language they quite frequently don’t know). Yes, these “blog correspondents” are biased, but who isn’t? We, the consumers of news, are always left to deal with the writer’s prejudices. Even the best of the MSM reporters carry bias with them. They acknowledge it themselves. And no, I don’t think they’re all as bad as this man in a foreign correspondent’s trench coat. But I wouldn’t be surprised if pretty soon they go on the “endangered species” list. I’ll be too busy reading foreign “blog correspondents” like this one and this one to worry about it.

UPDATE: Dept. of Spinning the Spinner. Charlotte in the comments (ain’t the blogosphere grand!) has done a little research on Journalist Jackie, who is apparently a recent grad of the Berkeley “J” School. What do the students learn in these places, je me demande

MORE: Iowahawk should take this all a bit more seriously. Oh, well…