Caught Between the Cold War and the Internet

Tuinstra, Fons
September 2004
Nieman Reports;Fall2004, Vol. 58 Issue 3, p100
This article discusses the impact of the Internet on the coverage of foreign news. According to Graham Earnshaw, editor in chief of Xinhua Finance News (XFN), the Internet made it possible for others, including XFN, to do the same kind of news gathering at a lesser cost. Since 2000, the Internet has developed into the dominant information provider for academics, the international business community and journalists in China. One reason for this is that getting print media sent from outside of China requires its recipient to pay a heavy import surcharge to the Chinese monopoly in charge of bringing them into the country. Censorship of Web sites, by the government, has also been easy to circumvent. These changes were happening at the same time the number of foreign correspondents in Shanghai, the largest and most thriving city in China, did not go up substantially, and the resources they had to do their jobs were declining. Interest in publishing what foreign correspondents have to report is falling, too. In Europe, it seems that only the Financial Times has the clout necessary to keep its foreign operations thriving. The work done by foreign correspondents is now also in the forefront of changes triggered by the proliferation of the Internet. In the September 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs, John Maxwell Hamilton writes about Weblogs as presenting a possible alternative for the classic arrangement of foreign correspondence. In places like Iran and Iraq, some bloggers have shown how the Internet can be a powerful tool in providing the kind of frontline information that traditional news media aren't able to obtain. What hampers development in this direction is finding ways to commercially finance this kind of reporting, information gathering, and dissemination. INSET: China and the Internet: A Reader Responds.


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