Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Breezy US "quality journalism"

George Bush was in Sydney today, in talks with PM John Howard, amongst other things.

Our national Newsradio station carries a feed from its rough equivalent, the US National Public Radio's current events programme, All Things Considered.

So. The journalist reports on Bush's arrival in Sydney, direct from Iraq. When asked by the anchor what would be discussed, the reporter unsurprisingly proffered Iraq first off. He noted that there was an election in the wind here, and that Iraq was quite a big issue. He also mentioned that Howard was staring into the jaws of a crushing defeat at the election. Then he touched on the other issues he expected Howard and Bush would be discussing: Iran and Korea.

You have to give that journalist some credit. It looks like he did pick up a paper his way through the airport. He got it right about the impending election.

But Iraq has not been a major issue in the election. To a major extent, the argy bargy that has been going on all year is domestic in nature.

As for Iran and Korea... what?

For his information, trade issues loom large in the immediate relationship between Australia and the US. And the press in the last few days has devoted a fair bit of space to a plan to drastically strengthen defence ties with the US, particularly on hardware.

Still, the US is rather an insular country - and can afford to be, since it is so dominant economically and militarily. It's understandable that the journalist would toss off the specific US foreign policy concerns. And since they are the US's concerns, I expect Iran and Korea will get a mention. But I'd be quite surprised if there was much milage in those discussions.

I wouldn't go putting the boot into NPR - it's one of the better US news sources, and it's going to do no worse than others in reflecting US insularity.

Update 6-Sept-07: Interesting to hear a BBC report on substantially the same issue: Howard, Bush, Rudd, Iraq, and the impending election. It was so much closer to the mark than (the best of) the American reporting.
Again, though, the results do have to reflect - to some extent at least - the differential power relationships of the respective countries. The more dominant the nation, the more insular and blind. And vice versa. Undoubtedly, when England had its day in the sun it was equally blithe in its understanding of the rest of the world.

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