Your correspondent (center left) enjoys fruit and pastries with the French minister of immigration. (not pictured)(Photo: Aurelia Figueroa)
It has been a fascinating year as a Bosch fellow in terms of group dynamics. I was told before the fellowship began that journalists tended to be chosen to spice the group up a bit and keep things interesting. During Bosch meetings with policy makers, journalists, politicians, etc I didn’t really remember that I was supposed to “spice things up.”
I was fortunate enough to be able to write this article for the Arthur Burns Fellowship alumni newsletter. To see the whole newsletter click here. (Opens in a new window.) For just my article, keep reading…
The transformation of sleepy Oslo to fortified Nobel host city was tangible. There was anxiety on the sidewalks as citizens walked carefully by concrete barricades, policemen with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs—all in place for the arriving VIPs. Even manhole covers were welded shut as a security measure—the official sign that a U.S. president is or has been to a city.
Though our time in Germany is great for seeing sights, and making personal breakthroughs (like learning to eat bananas and spaghetti: good work baby) there is a more serious reason I am here: Journalism.
I am listening and learning as much as I can about the radio system in Germany, but also on the state of journalism in general. In the States the numbers are grim, but Germany’s problems are different, and may be tougher to solve.
As a journalist, I'm sure many expect me to be a diehard advocate for the freedom of the press. One may think, "Hey, he's a member of the press. He should want to be free." In most cases I do press hard for press freedom (at least in my thoughts–people don't often ask my opinion on the subject) if not solely because of the added life accountability can breathe into a society. Just by publishing a story, or airing an interview, countless numbers of people from now until the end of digital records could possibly be influenced by the reported perspective of a newsmaker.
But perhaps you caught my "…In most cases…" caveat to an otherwise noble ideal. The founding fathers (John Hancock being one of the first advocates) knew that a free society could not flourish in its freedom until the threats of sedition and treason were lifted from those printing *relative* truths. (The first journalists printed some pretty terrible things.) That noble beginning aside, I'm bothered by the occasional perversion of the First Amendment by the proud, the few, the Obnoxious Journalist Crowd.
Depending on your perspective, the “Mainstream Media” may be part of either a vast left-wing, or equally vast right-wing conspiracy. These judgments are often based on a person’s own sense of injustice to a certain cause. If a news outlet passes over, or offers inadequate coverage of a subject held dear, said outlet must be serving its own agenda.
I don’t wish to defend or explain the perceived lack of neutrality of certain outlets, but in the same breath I can talk a little to what a news story should contain.
Arguably one of the most important news events I’ve taken part in covering was the case of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Al-Hussayen was a University of Idaho graduate student, living with his wife and children in Moscow in 2003*.
In the early morning hours of a regular day, SWAT teams and federal agents “breached” Al-Hussayen’s home, and took him into custody for alleged illicit activity of supporting anti-American overseas operations.
Ultimately Al-Hussayen was acquitted, but deported, and his family voluntarily left the states before being booted themselves.