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Through Their Eyes

Foreign Correspondents in the United States

Stephen Hess

Publication Year: 2005

Americans often forget that, just as they watch the world through U.S. media, they are also being watched. Foreign correspondents based in the United States report news and provide context to events that are often unfamiliar or confusing to their readers back home. Unfortunately, there has been too little thoughtful examination of the foreign press in America and its role in the world media. Through Their Eyes fills this void in the unmistakable voice of Stephen Hess, who has been reporting on reporting for over a quarter century. Globalization is shrinking the planet, making it more important than ever to know what is going on in the world and how those events are being interpreted elsewhere. September 11 was a chilling reminder that how others perceive us does matter, like it or not. Hess seeks to answer three basic yet essential journalistic questions: Who are these U.S.-based foreign correspondents? How do they operate? And perhaps most important, what do they report, and how? Informed by scores of interviews and armed with original survey research, Hess reveals the mindset of foreign correspondents from a broad sample of countries. He examines how reporting from abroad has changed over the past twenty years and addresses the daunting challenges facing these journalists, ranging from home-office politics to national stereotypes. Unique among works on the subject, this book provides an engaging and humanizing "Day in the Life…" section, illustrating how foreign correspondents conduct their daily activities. This book continues the author's comprehensive Newswork series on the nexus of media, government, and politics. These five books, starting with The Washington Reporters (Brookings, 1981), have become valuable reference materials for all who seek to understand this intersection of journalism and government. Through Their Eyes furthers that rich tradition, making it essential and enjoyable reading.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

Steve Hess’s work on the interaction between the press and the government is a signature Brookings product. As a former reporter myself and a long-time admirer of Steve’s work, I’m proud to be associated with this, the sixth volume in the Newswork series, which began in 1981 with the publication of The Washington Reporters. ...

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Guide: The nature of this study and where it fits in the Newswork series

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pp. 1-9

In 1977, shortly after Jimmy Carter became president, I made a wish list of three books that I wanted to write, a trilogy to be called Newswork. The first volume would be a study of reporters who cover the U.S. government for domestic news organizations and of how they organize themselves to do their work....

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Context: What may or may not appear in the world's media

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pp. 10-18

Anthony Shadid, the Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his human interest stories from Baghdad, said, in defining foreign correspondence: “It’s the freedom to go to a foreign place, try to understand the situation, and tell the story with a critical, sympathetic eye.”1 ...

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Then: What we know about foreign correspondents in America, 1955-88

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pp. 19-26

The 111 responses to a questionnaire that graduate student Donald A. Lambert mailed to 250 foreign correspondents in the United States in 1955 provide a benchmark against which later surveys can be compared. His survey documented a group of predominantly male (there were only six women), well-educated (fifteen had doctoral degrees), ...


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Patterns: Some findings, 1999-2003

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pp. 29-42

The foreign press corps in the United States experienced a growth spurt in the second half of the twentieth century, from 616 correspondents in 1964 to more than three times that number in 2000, according to the Editor and Publisher International Year Book.1 The biggest increase was in the number of reporters from Asia, ...

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Irregulars: The other foreign correspondents

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pp. 43-49

When in 1999 we surveyed all those whose names appeared on various lists of foreign correspondents in the United States, our analysis showed that 20 percent—one in five—were not full-time journalists. These were the irregulars. “Irregular” is a word with multiple associations—an irregular shape, an irregular verb, an irregular shirt ...

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Hollywood: A subject the world loves

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pp. 50-55

Israel has an insatiable appetite for Hollywood stories,” said Tom Tugend, a Los Angeles stringer for the Jerusalem Post, when we interviewed him in 1999. So, apparently, do Brazil, Australia, and Senegal. Danielle Machado Duran, a freelancer in New York, reported that a Brazilian magazine had just requested an article on the movie The Blair Witch Project. ...

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In America: It's not like being in any other country

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pp. 56-66

I think one of the extraordinary things about being here is periodically getting these feelings of déjà vu as you see streetscapes or squares, and you suddenly think, ‘I’ve been here before,’ and you realize that it was in a movie,” said Patrick Smyth, Washington correspondent for the Irish Times.1 ...


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Time: Adjusting to deadlines around the world

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pp. 69-76

What distinguishes most foreign correspondents from most other journalists is that often they are separated from their editors and audience by several time zones. Those who work in New York or Washington usually are six hours behind Europe and twelve to fourteen hours ahead of Asia. “The time difference is the hardest part,” ...

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Contact: Whereby the home office gains on correspondents

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pp. 77-82

Contact between foreign correspondents and their home offices has expanded at a dizzying pace. “The CNN effect” was followed by something that could be called “the Google effect.” Besides the quick and cheaper technology that has made interaction between distant reporters and editors possible and affordable, ...

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Access: Who sees whom, when, and why

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pp. 83-93

Among our full-time correspondents, a substantial number—62 percent—complained that they had problems reaching sources because they represented non-U.S. news organizations. Many years ago, when Albert Hunt, then of the Wall Street Journal, was asked why Washington reporters always seemed to be complaining, ...

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Help: Foreign correspondents as clients of the U.S. government

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pp. 94-100

The most valuable help I got from them was probably when they put me in contact with prison staff who could arrange interviews with convicted murderers for a series on violent crime, something that would have been virtually impossible on my own as a foreign journalist,” recalled Gunilla Faringer, a reporter for Swedish newspapers in New York. 1 ...

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Borrowed News and the Internet: Where correspondents turn for information

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pp. 101-106

The connection between reporters and their home offices was not the only aspect of foreign correspondence that was being profoundly changed by the Internet. “Online [access to information] has revolutionized the speed and breadth of research,” noted the BBC’s Philippa Thomas.1 ...


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One Day: The stories and the categories they fit in

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pp. 109-119

We sought answers to the questions of who foreign correspondents are and how they report from the United States, but another question remained: what do they report? Each day produces hundreds of thousands of words in scores of languages. Gathering and translating them would be no small task.. ...

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Now: What we know about foreign correspondents in America, the present

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pp. 120-130

When our story began in 1955, foreign correspondence often appeared to be defined by an elegant web of special relationships between America’s economic and governmental elites in New York and Washington and a coterie of well-bred Western European journalists: Marino de Medici, whose ancestors ...

Appendix A. Foreign Correspondents in the United States, by Place of Origin, 1964 - 2000

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pp. 131-133

Appendix B. Survey Questionnaire and Illustrative Responses

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pp. 134-155

Appendix C. Respondents, Surveys, and Interviews

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pp. 156-164


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pp. 165-182

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pp. 179-182

First, my thanks to those who have made Brookings such a glorious place to think and work. In the Governance Studies Program: Gladys Arrisueno, Sarah Binder, E. J. Dionne, Bethany Hase, Robert Katzmann, Paul Light, Thomas Mann, Pietro Nivola, and Kent Weaver. ...


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pp. 183-195

E-ISBN-13: 9780815735823
E-ISBN-10: 0815735820

Page Count: 195
Publication Year: 2005