Nieman Reports has an interesting article by Henry Peirse, founder of Global Radio News, an online agency for reporters, in which he discusses how the organisation began and how it hopes to support foreign journalists.
As an agency, GRN aims to suggest stories for broadcasters to cover, based on ideas sent in on a daily basis from reporters across the world, Peirse says.
GRN tries as much as possible to use journalists who live where the story is taking place. Local journalists have the gift of institutional knowledge and this can set them apart from those who parachute into a story, though the old-timers can also be ready to leap in given the expertise they carry inside of them. When they were foreign correspondents, they settled in a region of the world and got to know their way around; they were ready when news broke. In this tweeting generation of journalists, deep digging isn’t valued so this kind of ingrained knowledge doesn’t grow. Of course this is understandable at a time when it’s the rare news organization that invests in having a reporter watch a story until it becomes news.
This is what Peirse says GRN aims to do, “to support reporters by finding them and investing in them before a story breaks in their backyard”. Once it has, GRN can connect them to broadcasters.
“A novel about a group of journalists in Africa has made the nominations for this year’s Booker prize. Not Untrue and Not Unkind tells the story of their friendship, rivalry and betrayal. The book’s author and former foreign correspondent, Ed O’Loughlin, and foreign correspondent Martin Bell, discuss why foreign correspondents attract so much interest.”
“We’ve all watched the cutting of foreign news budgets for so long that we’ve become almost numb to it,” comments Andrew Stroehlein, communications director for the International Crisis Group, on the Reuters AlertNet blog.
“Another bureau cut here, another three correspondent posts dropped there – drip, drip, drip – the dwindling capacity of overseas news gathering is constant background noise. Or ever-increasing silence, perhaps.
“But now we’ve come to two situations that show us what the world will be like when there are no foreign correspondents left,” Strohlein says – pointing to Somalia and Sri Lanka as examples.