|'The Journalism of Exception'
Or What Foreign Correspondents Do All Day,
and Wouldn't a Job in PR Offer Better Benefits
An exaggeration perhaps, but the previous pageís quote makes a point: violence is an integral part of news coverage, especially foreign news. And somebody has to gather it up for us ghouls to savor.
The title, "journalism of exception," refers to a passage in a communications text, William Hachten's The World News Prism, describing the coverage of wars, assorted political unrest, disasters and accidents. Exception? In his book International News and Foreign Correspondents, Stephen Hess said that this kind of reporting makes up three-quarters of the foreign datelined stories.
Covering news abroad entails a certain degree of danger to journalists. However, most of this danger is not accidental but purposeful: governments do not want the press to discover or spread certain kinds information and will often take whatever measures necessary to prevent it from doing so. This occurs despite the fact that most countries, as members of the United Nations, are signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes Article 19, guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression.
This web site examines the nature of these dangers by focusing on the experiences of foreign correspondents covering the politics and/or various wars in China, Israel, Algeria, Indonesia and Yugoslavia. These countries were chosen because of their recent or continuous presence in the news, or in the case of Algeria, itís continuous civil war is hardly ever mentioned in western news.
Covering news abroad is not the sole work of foreign correspondents. Modern news organizations depend on locals to cover news for them or to assist their correspondents. These locals, without the protection and publicity afforded foreign correspondents, are often under greater danger than foreigners. Although we are (or should be) aware and concerned about this, nevertheless, this site is about foreign correspondents and therefore concentrates on them alone. Much is written about the plight of native journalists and the dangers they face in their own countries. The bibliography page offers links to several journalist organizations that write about journalists in non-democratic countries.
Lastly, this site is also a dedication to the reporters who do this godforsaken work, from lowly stringers/adventurers/ideologues to the "A-Teams" of journalism--the scarfed, Ray Ban-donning staff writers and tele-prompter readers from New York who parachute in for the big stories so they can tell the folks back home What It All Means. May many horrible things continue to happen--just not to them.