News of the World
One of the things that occurred to me while in Egypt was the paucity of international news we receive here in the states. Over there, the few times I had the TV on, we wound up watching BBC News. And when I sought an English language newspaper, I wound up reading The International Herald Tribune several days running. In both cases, I was learning things about countries or seeing analysis that is sadly lacking back here.
The major papers, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, etc., certainly do a fine job. But they reach only a fraction of the nearly 300 million Americans living here who are affected by decisions and trends made on other hemispheres. Network newscasts and local papers only devote space to news that directly affects us such as Iraq or the latest outbursts of Hugo Chavez, only because he gets away with calling our president an idiot.
In these days of Globalization, we need to better understand what is happening in places large and small, near and far. This will affect labor practices, outsourcing, fiscal issues, social trends and the relations the United States will (or will not) enjoy with other countries. We need to stop caring as much about the blood and gore headlines or celebrity nonsense that too often dominate the papers read by the masses and spend just a little more time understanding what’s happening around us.
It wasn’t too long ago, after the Berlin Wall fell, that all we seemed to need worry about was Libya’s Gaddafi or maybe butchers like Amin and Milosevic. Today, though, Hugo Chavez has suddenly galvanized South America; Kim il Jong scares the beejezus out of me in North Korea (always a more important problem than Saddam Hussein), and Vladimir Putin has made Asia a scarier place. Not to mention the horrors of the Congo and Sudan or the growing threat of Iran.
But you open the New York Post or my own Connecticut Post, you don’t read a lot about it. A quick look at my local paper’s website has one international story on the home page, and when you click for AP headlines, all you get are national stories.
That’s certainly one reason I love The Week, which helps shine a light on what’s happening around the world, but they can cover only so much as a weekly news digest. Time has also beefed up some of their international coverage and their new recurring feature on China should be interesting.
There’s no way to force people to pay attention to the real important issues of the day, but starting to expose them to the global issues is a first step.