Monday, April 24, 2006

Risk and the East

How much do I think a journalist can ask others to risk in order to get a story? My first reaction would be not very damn much. I think if someone wants to take risks, that’s their own business, but I don’t want a bunch of pushy reporters trying to make their living off the risk of someone else. But I do think that there are instances when asking someone to take risks is justified. If someone knows something that can help hundreds of others and ultimately themselves, then asking that person to take a risk is probably an okay thing. We know that journalism can change government policy, promote social reform, and expose and hopefully put a stop to wicked, wrong, unjust things. Some examples might be: a former prostitute exposing the sex slave market run by mob bosses in eastern Europe, a government aide who knows that high ranking officials authorized genocide, or a secretary who knows that the company she worked for exploits children. These people might put themselves at risk by exposing these injustices, but I don’t think it would be wrong for a journalist to urge them to go on the record anyway.
As for how well I think the Western media covers Eastern cultures, I have to say that it probably varies from publication to publication. I think that local papers do a pretty crappy job, for the most part, of covering Eastern cultures, because their reader base isn’t really interested in what’s going on in Singapore right now. Although we live in a technological, globalized world, America is still a lot more isolated than Australia or most of Europe, and the average American just isn’t very interested in Eastern culture because he feels like it doesn’t affect him. Other publications, particularly those pertaining to business and investment, have a lot of coverage of Eastern culture. The Wall Street Journal, for example, has a significant number of articles on the East, because Asia is an industrial powerhouse, and its readers are interested. So I guess I would have to give The Wall Street Journal an “A” and The Standard Examiner a “D” for their coverage of Eastern Culture.

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