Retreating From the World  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   October/November 2011

Retreating From the World   

Posted: Thurs. March, 3, 2011

By Unknown
     


Iread your story "Retreating from the World" (Winter) with great interest as I have just come back from Haiti myself and wrote about the work of a local mission group there for a small daily newspaper here in Park Hills, Missouri.

Many of the blog comments I got were essentially that the reader didn't care to read about anything outside of the United States, even though there was a local angle. Granted, I did receive some very complimentary comments and e-mails and even phone calls about the series, but the blog comments were quite blunt about their deep disinterest in the subject of Haiti, and I think somewhat by extension any story with an international angle.

I have noticed a general retreat-from-the-world attitude in our country that is helping drive the trend you wrote about. People don't want our country to be the "world cop" anymore. There's a sense that we should take care of our own matters and leave the rest of the world alone.

I don't know what one can do about it, but it is a little disconcerting, because we are in an age where everything global is converging and the stage seems set for some major culture clashes in the future.

I have been wanting to write more about the global connections that even our small rural community has with countries such as China. Several of our plants have gone to China, and their managers, who still live here, visit those plants on a regular basis. Some of our legislators, both state and local, have taken trips there to talk about trade. I think our world is much more connected than it seems our readers care about.

Anyway, I appreciated your article, and it was good food for thought. Thank you for writing it.


Renee Jean
Assistant managing editor
Daily Journal
Park Hills, Missouri

Thanks for your thoughtful piece "Retreating from the World." As the general administrator of Free Speech Radio News, I wanted to point you to our radio newscast that continues to provide far more foreign reporting (by percentage) than even NPR.

You write that, "There are three approaches to foreign reporting: Don't do it (use the wires), do it sporadically (parachute in) or do it all the time (maintain bureaus)." FSRN takes what I consider to be a fourth approach: Do it all the time, but primarily with freelancers who live in and frequently grew up in the area from which they're reporting.

We have a network of more than 200 freelance reporters, with roughly 70 or 80 who file three or more stories per year. Many file far more than that, and we cover some stories and regions with depth and frequency. These on-the-ground, community-rooted reporters provide a richness of context to our stories that isn't found in most other reporting.

FSRN has been around for about a decade, and we're aired on more than 100 noncommercial radio stations mostly community radio as well as some public and college radio stations. FSRN grew out of the Pacifica network in the early 2000s, and Pacifica has continued to be our biggest funder. We're generally not considered part of the mainstream media, although our reporting does meet high journalistic standards.

Nathan Moore
General administrator
Free Speech Radio News
Madison, Wisconsin

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