Friday, 6 May 2011

The emerging face of International Journalism: an MMJ masterclass

They used to be called foreign correspondents, now they are beginning to become known as international journalists
That change is more than just semantics

The old skool approach of embedding foreign correspondents involved sending someone with your world view, values and mind-set into foreign parts, and have them report on and, inevitably, interpret that country and situation as you probably would.
So being a foreign correspondent was often to present the world from your audience’s viewpoint. It was a form of colonialism – news colonialism.
With the developing idea of International Journalism, we are trying to move beyond that.
Think for a minute how sobering it can be to see the foreign coverage of your own country.
I know that when a German newspaper chooses to portray the zenophobic rantings of English red tops as representative of the nation, I don’t see that as being a true picture of my country, and its people, as a whole.
International Journalism seeks to bring a more objective presentation that blends input from native journalists in any given country with that from journalists from the country where coverage will be consumed.
It also tries to harness the huge power of social media, of our easy access to journalism from all over the globe, with citizen journalism and input from eye-witnesses
So it has a lot to do with the things we covered in Masterclasses 22-25, particularly what we did with curation and live blogging. Then there is the huge importance of smartphones as reporting devices, which we covered in Masterclass 14.
So I try here to develop a more modern idea of what a foreign correspondent – or international journalist - is, or should be, drawing on the thoughts of Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s head of global news, and his approach to bringing a truly international character to the corporation’s world news output.
I also draw in the important role Al Jazeera has had in reminding us that the west’s view of world events isn’t the only one.
I’ve gathered as much wisdom as I can from individuals who have become foreign correspondents – often by striking out bravely for a distant land and using all their guts, nous and journalistic ability to get established there.
There is a good deal of practical advice on how to pick the country you’ll report from, what to do to prepare for your departure and how to establish yourself once you arrive – all of it from people who’ve done it.
There is specific information on becoming a foreign correspondent in Africa, China, Russia, South America and Israel.
We look at some of the most successful foreign correspondents, and link to their award-winning work – so you can learn from the very best.
This masterclass is the first in a series on various journalistic specialisms. Look out for the others, and check out the overview of specialisms – why most reporters follow one, and how to pick the best one for you.

Next: What International Journalism is

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