AJR  Features
From AJR,   February/March 2012

Providing Global Views of Global News   

That’s the mission of former Nieman Foundation Curator Bob Giles as he launches GlobalPost’s commentary section in March. Tues., February 21, 2012.

By Chelsea Boone
Chelsea Boone (cc_boone@yahoo.com) is a graduate student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.     

International news from an international point of view.

That's what's in the cards for readers of GlobalPost as Bob Giles, former curator of Harvard's Nieman Foundation, launches the Web site's new commentary section.

Giles wants to offer readers of GlobalPost a look at foreign news from perspectives they are unlikely to encounter elsewhere by having commentators from all over the globe offer their takes on important topics.

GlobalPost, an online news source dedicated to international coverage, plans to launch its new commentary venture in early March. The section was developed by Giles, who will be the site's commentary editor, and Philip Balboni, GlobalPost's cofounder, president and CEO.

Balboni, founder and former president of New England Cable News, initially wanted to include an opinion section, but Giles suggested it would be more effective to offer analysis and perspective, Giles says. He drafted a proposal, and Balboni apparently liked what he came up with, because Balboni asked Giles to oversee the new endeavor.

GlobalPost was founded as a for-profit venture in 2009 as traditional news organizations were cutting back sharply on their commitment to foreign news. With a roster of freelance correspondents that fluctuates between 70 and 100, it attracts two million unique visitors per month – a number that has been climbing, Balboni said.

Giles, a longtime newspaper executive and a Freedom Forum official before moving to the Nieman Foundation in 2000, has served on GlobalPost's editorial advisory board for the past three years. He stepped down from his Nieman Foundation position last summer.

"He's the perfect choice," Balboni says of Giles, adding GlobalPost "needed someone with Bob's experience and fine judgment."

Giles has a wide array of contacts that he will be calling upon as commentators. Those contacts include a database of former Nieman fellows and journalists from 50 countries.

Giles says he isn't looking simply for people with strong opinions, but rather journalists with deep knowledge about their subjects who can offer thoughtful commentary and perspective. He's looking for fresh voices "that the American audiences haven't heard before."

Giles says he plans to assess the news each day and determine who is best suited to analyze major breaking stories. "I'm going to be looking at the news and trying to find people who can comment the way we want."

Contributors will include journalists and people involved in government and think tanks.

"We want people who can share their knowledge and experience in a way that is informative to our audience," Giles says. "My fundamental goal is to bring an important dimension to, and supplement, the news."