Archive for South America

I have argued with journalists and cajoled students into thinking globally with their local stories.

Here is an example of how a Washington correspondent for a  New Jersey paper linked Pres. Obama’s current trip to Brazil with very local issues in New Jersey.

First posted at my Journalism, Journalists and the World site.

Congratulations to Herb Jackson, Washington correspondent for the [New Jersey] Record.

He not only understands the idea that there is a connection between international and local events, he knows how to dig into the various databases to get the numbers to back up the link.

Obama’s trip to Brazil key to N.J.

He did what I and a few others have been arguing for a long time. He took information already on hand from the wire services, looked up some data and did some local interviews.

Without spending extra money to send someone overseas, the readers of the Record got a news story that was specific to their local area AND showed how the New Jersey economy depended on global trade.

This is called providing context.

It would be nice to see more LOCAL reporting like this.

Too often most Americans don’t know or care about global events. In part, this is because the U.S. media don’t show enough intelligence to provide the context of why understanding what goes on in Brazil or Japan or Germany means to the local reader/listener/viewer.

Again, congrats to Herb Jackson for being a good journalist who sees connections vital to his readership.

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

NPR had a fun piece today about how the United States is now a spicier nation.

U.S. Is A Spicier Nation (Literally) Since 1970s

I am glad to see that seasoning other than salt is making its way into the US kitchen. (Much healthier.) And I am glad to see the internationalization of cooking. (I still remember 25+ years ago when pita was introduced into Air Force One and the uproar it caused.)

But let’s look at why different spices are now selling so well in the States.

When I taught a feature writing class at George Mason University I gave my students an assignment to find connections in everyday student life and the world. (Use of the Internet and interviewing foreign/exchange students did not count.) In a brainstorming session about what those possible links might be I suggested the food court.

The impact of foreign students on the school meant the restaurants had to adjust. So there was Arabic food and Hispanic food. There were places that offered food under the rules of halal and kashrut.

And now NPR tells us

The consumption of spices in the United States has grown almost three times as fast as the population over the past several decades. Much of that growth is attributed to the changing demographics of America.

So here is the entry to a whole series of LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL articles that include an international perspective.

A local reporter could look at the sales of spices in his/her area. Then figure out what ethnic group is most closely tied to those spices. Then he/she could look at the local growth of that ethnic group in the area.

Finding out the how and why these immigrants came to the United States and to that local area could provide the fodder for a whole series of local profile stories.

Getting the basic information is easy. Just go to the Census Bureau.

For example, in just 30 seconds I found that 10.4 percent of the Southern United States is foreign-born.

Digging a little deeper — another 30 seconds — I found that 10 percent of Virginia’s population is foreign-born.

And just a little deeper I learn that 27.7 percent of the Fairfax County population is foreign-born, with 50.7 percent of that group from Asia and 30 percent from Latin America. (Could that be why there are so many Asian grocery stores in Fairfax County?)

And the foreign-born population in Arlington County comes to 24 percent, with 30 percent from Asia and 44 percent from Latin America. (Could that be why there are more Latin American restaurants and stores in Arlington than in Fairfax?)

And let’s not forget how those differences also play out in issues other than spices and restaurants. Think about taxes, education and other social and political issues.

The mantra of LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL these days should include more stories that involve international aspects. It just takes an enterprising reporter to dig out the stories.

There has been a lot of coverage in the Caribbean about the arrest of alleged drug lord José Figueroa Agosto in Puerto Rico and his girlfriend Sobeida Felix Morel.

Figuero is wanted on more money laundering, drug and murder charges than can be enumerated here. (Suffice it to say his operations are said to have made the Colombians look like amateurs.)

Felix was wanted in the Dominican Republic on more charges than she was in the United States so when she was caught in Puerto Rico, the DR government asked for her to be extradited to the Dominican Republic for trial.

The U.S. government agreed.

On July 21 she arrived in Santo Domingo. The arrival was recorded by a lone newspaper reporter. And the picture was dramatic.

The photographer, Tomas Ventura, described for the readers of Diario Libre how he was in the right place at the right time and how he got the picture.

Taking Sobeida’s picture was not easy

The “how I got it” story is one that journalists in free societies around the world can relate to. We have all had our great moments.

And we all love to talk about them.

For now, let’s celebrate with Ventura his tenacity and skills.

Filed Under (Editing, Skills, South America) by on 03-07-2010 and tagged

CNN reports today that the drug enforcement agencies from the US and Ecuador have seized a fully operational ocean-going submarine designed for drug smugglers. (Ecuador authorities seize drug-smuggling sub)

This is the first time a real submarine was captured. But in the past few years the issue of submersible vessels has been a big problem. (Coast Guard hunts drug-running semi-subs from 2008.)

Now would it have been so difficult to refer to the submersibles in the submarine story? Context is everything to good story telling. And when the issue is global in nature and deals with drug running, more information is always better than less.


NPR Morning Edition did a decent story about Yoani Sanchez, author of Generation Y blog in Cuba. (Spreading Digital Revolution In A Cuban Living Room)

Sanchez has won numerous awards for her blogs that point out the anti-democratic nature of the Cuban government.

I have a link to the Sanchez blog on my personal site. She is a very good voice of reason in the Cuba debate.

She is not shrill (think stereo-typical Miami Cubans) in anti-Castro views. She just tells it as it is.

I strongly recommend her writings to anyone who wants to get past the old Cold War mindset in dealing with Cuban issues. (And that goes for the left as well as the right.)

Here is an example of her straight forward and informative style:

DHL or How to Help the Censor

A couple of years ago I went to the DHL office in Miramar to send some family videos to friends in Spain. The clerk looked at me as if I were trying to send a molecule of oxygen to another galaxy. Without even touching the Mini DV cassette, she told me that the Havana branch only accepted VHS. I thought it was a question of size, but the explanation she gave was even more surprising, “It’s just that our machines to view the content only read the large cassettes.” When I tried to insist, the woman suspected that instead of the smiling face of my son, I wanted to send “enemy propaganda” abroad.

Rest of blog.