One of the interesting aspects of watching events in Egypt is how the cable news channels cover the story. Like a lot of news organizations, they talk to specialists, bloggers, and pundits. But one of the things they haven’t done is gone to their local news bureau.
In times past, CBS, NBC, and ABC would have already have boots on the ground. Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Christina Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, and Edward R. Murrow were among the many that made their names in places Americans couldn’t pronounce. These news outposts were not money makers but added to the company’s prestige.
Now somewhere along the line, maybe in the later part of the nineties, networks started to cut out foreign bureaus and correspondents. The reason was twofold; bureaus were loss leaders also Americans don’t turn into the news for foreign news. So the news channels turn to more domestic affairs.
So now, for example, CNN International simulcast AL Arabia for its Egypt coverage. NBC has one main correspondent for the region. And Al Jazeera English is taking point.
And its a shame. I remember watching ABC and Peter Jennings especially the specials he did when he and Robert Krulwich would break down foreign issues for kids.
With the events of 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans need exposure to foreign news and analysis. We as citizens need the history and context behind events. And we don’t get that, not in the way we should.