Wednesday, March 26, 2008


When I started by journalistic career for the French News Agency, I learned a rule of thumb for determination whether a story in a faraway land should go on the wire: you had to consider both the number of deaths involved and the distance from the place of readership. In French it was called "la regle du mort/kilometrique". For a story taking place in Asia, Africa or Latin America to be of interest in Europe or America, there had to be hundreds of at least dozens of deaths, the furthere away the country, the more deaths there had to be.

Recent developments indicate that this rule has self-revised, and not only with respect to the underdeveloped world: ten years ago the Americana networks would never have carried a story about a building collapsing in Norway, willing a dozen people. The fact that they did so this morning probably has a much to do with the unremarkableness of a major news item: the purchase by the Indian car company of Jaguar and Range Rover from Ford Motors. Americans are now like spectators of a ping-pong game watching as India and China vie for the world's assets.

And to think that some Democracts still don't realize that a man who grew up in the Philippines and also lived in Indonesia, who has an African father and an Americn mother, sees the world more accurately than a woman (or man) who only left the familiarity of her country of birth as a visitor - speaking diplomatese to rulers, and otherwise remaining at the highest level of remove from the inhabitants of those other lands.

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