By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
The immediately noticeable thing about news shown abroad is its emphasis on the world as a collection of continents and countries where every action has a reaction, and where the need for consultation and cross-cultural understanding is paramount. Often this simply boils down to holding an absurd number of conferences, like the confab of French-speaking countries recently staged in Beirut, but nonetheless the interest in other nations is real. Hence as Irish voters were going to the polls to vote on whether they should join the EU, much importance was attached to how closely Poles, Lithuanians, Estonians and other Eastern European peoples were following the results. If the Irish voted yes (they did), then their own admission to the EU became possible; if no, they would have to wait for at least another year and another referendum. The Irish acted, the Eastern Europeans reacted, and they were all bound together in one increasingly large, if irritatingly bureaucratic, family.
The contrast with the news here, which was all sniper all the time, was sobering. Even the hostage taking in a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels, an innovation in terrorist technique so startling it might have emerged from the avant-garde theater itself, could barely fight its way onto our screens.
So thank God for the proliferation of cable and satellite channels, which, in their modest way, show that Americans are not quite so bored by the rest of the world as the rest of the world thinks. I even enjoy the weather reports (”Rain and cloudy skies will dominate over Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden. Winds will be moderate to strong . . .“), as well as the odd glimpse into hidden corners of the planet. One of the saddest things I‘ve ever seen was a North Korean businessman dressed in what looked like a cheap polyester suit, enjoying -- if that’s the word -- a solitary lunch in front of an empty lake. There he was, in my North American living room, providing me, for just a second, with an unforgettable sense of the loneliness of life in a totalitarian regime.
That was on a program on Colors, another channel available only on satellite. Several of its news shows, including Dateline Punjab, India Today and Focus on Africa, have extended reports on countries and societies we rarely pay attention to. Given the paucity of Third World coverage elsewhere, and the subsequent lack of any point of comparison, it‘s often hard to gauge the accuracy or political slant of the reporting, but it’s heartening that it simply exists.
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