Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Changing World of the Foreign Correspondent Recap

A big thanks to everyone who joined us last night at the Housing Works Bookstore to enjoy the "Changing World of the Foreign Correspondent" panel moderated by The Paris Correspondent author Alan S. Cowell. Joining the panel to discuss the rapidly changing world of journalism in the digital age were Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large of Reuters News; John Darnton, award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Almost a Family and Black and White and Dead All Over; and Peter Godwin, author of Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun.

How does the job of the foreign correspondent change over time? Will on the ground foreign correspondence be necessary in the future? Does the rapid pace of web journalism compromise credibility in foreign reporting? Last night's panelists tackled these big questions about the state of global journalism in the age of Twitter and shared stories from their backgrounds as pioneers in the field of digital media.

Alan Cowell kicked off the evening's festivities with a discussion of the books that influence his most recent novel, The Paris Correspondent and the themes he explores in his writing: revenge, romance, passion, and amour. Alan shared stories from his past as a local reporter for small newspapers and detailed his ascent to senior correspondent for New York in Paris.

In today's competitive job market, young writers can benefit from the professional wisdom of a seasoned reporter and editor. Chrystia Freeland offered career advice to journalism students interested in foreign reporting: study economics and languages like Arabic or Mandarin if you want to get hired. Chrystia also suggested that all journalists study the broader economies and the local markets of the countries that they cover in order to be effective storytellers.

John Darnton weighed in on the shifting world of war correspondence and explained how communication technologies change the nature of reporting in a foreign country. John explained that for today's journalists, instantaneous communication allows writers to remain longer in the field without an obligation to file stories away from the action, but that increased exposure to war zones and heightened pressure to get a scoop can also put reporters in the line of fire.

How can journalists tell stories that appeal to both local and foreign readers? Peter Godwin discussed the consumption of foreign journalism and the need for curators to translate detailed and universal narratives in a marketplace saturated with multiple views and opinions.

Those who stayed through the panel enjoyed a lively Q&A, followed by a wine and cheese reception and book signing.

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