The New Global Journalism: Foreign Correspondence in Transition
The digital journalist uses a host of new electronic sources, tools, and practices that are now part of the global reporting landscape. Digital journalists would argue that in the right circumstances, these tools enable them to offer as clear and informed a report as what the journalist on the ground can produce–sometimes even clearer, because they may have access to a broader spectrum of material than a field reporter. In mainstream newsrooms, though, there is still significant skepticism about digital’s impact on foreign reporting. Many see it as the end of the era when a reporter could spend a full day–or days or weeks–reporting in the field before sitting down to write. That traditional foreign correspondent model served audiences well, bringing them vivid accounts of breaking news and nuanced analysis of longer-term developments.At the Tow Center, we believe that both forms of reporting are vital, that both are necessary to help all of us understand the world. A goal of this report is to narrow or eliminate the divide between the two, and in this spirit we lay out several objectives. First, our authors work to provide a clear picture of this new reporting landscape: Who are the primary actors, and what does the ecosystem of journalists, citizens, sources, tools, practices, and challenges look like? Second, we urge managers at both mainstream and digital native media outlets to embrace both kinds of reporting, melding them into a new international journalism that produces stories with greater insight. Third, we hope to show the strengths in traditional and digital foreign reporting techniques, with a goal of defining a hybrid foreign correspondent model–not a correspondent who can do everything, but one open to using all reporting tools and a wide range of sources. Finally, we outline governance issues in this new space–legal and operational–with an aim to help journalists report securely and independently in this digital age. We approach these issues through five chapters, whose authors include journalists from both digital-native and mainstream media, as well as a communications scholar and a media producer for a human rights organization. While each writes from a different vantage, the overlapping insights and conclusions begin to redefine both the edges and heart of international reportage now.
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