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Archive for July, 2010

North Korea is one the most interesting countries in the world to me, and I think it’s because I have no access to go there, and know very little about it. To journalists, it’s like a treasure box of stories you just don’t have a key too. It’s dangerous, dirty, full of poverty and seemingly many unfortunate people. North Korea controls their media to a high extent and I want to break in. Now with the sinking of the South Korean ship, North Korea is a hot commodity for international news… again.

What I have been told is that North Korea often acts out in some way like a rotten child and tries to get attention, especially when the country is in need of food.  As journalists we can’t ignore this, but we also shouldn’t serve it either. We need to know more on international stories, so we can write with more expertise. That is one of my personal goals, to go back to Europe and finish a global politics program, so I can write about EU and other international relations with a better eye.

I think it’s tough to report on politics because politicians try to manipulate what media write and try to make them focus on some stories over others. There are too many hidden agendas.

Unfortunately what we don’t have far too often, is time. It takes time to learn about countries and get to know how politics work. I want to be in the know when I write about a place, not out in the dark.

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World Cup!

I love football – American football and the rest of the world’s football.  The atmosphere of the games and how much fans get into the game is one of the best parts. I’ve been lucky enough to briefly meet the FIFA World Cup president last year at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium when Belgium/Netherlands were trying to lure the World Cup to their countries jointly. FIFA is a very strong organization and has an amazing amount of power and money. (And strangely enough has not bought into the concept of using instant replay to check over refs’ calls.)

Similarly to the Olympics, when countries to host the World Cup, they can either end up in a load of debt for doing so, (such as Athens did with the Olympics) they can come out with a new world image (which South Africa no doubt is hoping for) and they can cover up the negativities of the country.

Just look at China. During the Olympics there were many negative things going on hidden by tall walls. Communities of people were displaced. A young singer wasn’t allowed to be the face of her song because she wasn’t considered pretty enough.

It saddens me when large events come to cities, making its citizens proud and then practically shoves a portion of them out of the way to show off the best of the best.

Looking at the reporting it seems South Africa with the 2010 World Cup is covering up less poverty etc. than China did with the Olympics. I also believe South Africa has much more to lose and lots prove if things go wrong. Being newly free they have a greater sense of community and power to make the World Cup amazing and an enormous amount of pressure to make sure everyone is safe. South Africa will be the world’s stage.

I think there could have been more reporting on the shortfalls of South Africa, and more about the people. It’s unfortunate that Americans don’t watch soccer as much as the rest of the world, or there probably would have been more stories on the issue throughout the U.S.  That is my only guess as to why there was not as much coverage on much outside of the games themselves. (Plus Africa news has proven to be least interesting to readers and viewers in a number of polls I have seen.)

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President Obama said recently that he doesn’t like the 24-hour news cycle. I can see why this may be. When big things happen, it’s hard to secure sites, reel back in “leaked” information, and ultimately stay in control.  As a politician, 24-hour news can be a best friend or biggest foe, depending on the story.

I’ve even seen CNN get the story wrong because they were talking about news they haven’t completely fact checked yet. At first CNN said a man trying to get back to Pakistan was on a plane that had to turn around to get him off. Later they said he was apprehended before he even got onto the plane, but that it turned around for other people who were suspected. Sure we got to see the events unfold in real time, but also got to see flaws in reporting that can come with trying to be first.

For democracy’s sake, it’s good to have 24-hour news because it’s harder to hide issues when they are spewing out constantly. The one thing I don’t like is that now politicians often think they have to do something weird or cause a ruckus somehow just to get attention, or even say something ridiculous. How many reporters will go to a boring press conference over one where something sexier is happening?

Overall, 24-hour news is great and I watch it often, but it definitely has it’s ups and downs for those it covers, particularly those wanting certain things hushed up. What do you think?

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