Redefining Foreign Correspondence

By John Maxwell Hamilton and Eric Jenner

A paper by John Maxwell Hamilton, fall 2002 fellow, and Eric Jenner, examines the changing nature of foreign correspondence. Significant declines in the number of foreign correspondents and in the amount of space and time allotted to foreign news by print and broadcast media have raised criticism that the news media are “progressively less good at providing the public the wherewithal with which to judge foreign policy issues.” But do these declines accurately measure the quantity and quality of foreign reporting? This paper examines three forces changing the way Americans receive news about events abroad: the economics of traditional news coverage, the rise of global interdependence, and the emergence of alternative news delivery technologies. Because of these forces, journalists and media scholars need broader definitions of foreign correspondence and foreign correspondents in order to assess what Americans know about the world and how they will act on that knowledge. This paper resulted in the book Journalism’s Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting.

Download the paper (PDF).