Good reporting on U.S. foreign policy requires good reporting, period. As newspapers shrink and reporters get laid off, accurate American discourse about our actions in the world becomes less likely.
The best (worst) example is Iraq. Even before the Obama Administration began, flagging public interest intersected with shrinking media budgets to result in Baghdad reporting cutbacks.
In less expensive parts of the world, we can expect more of the same. As newspapers go belly-up, the pool of funds available to hire foreign correspondents is declining as well. Citizens of the Superpower who depend on mainstream media are going to have even less information about America’s global footprint.
But instead of watching our for-profit media institutions go out of business, maybe we should stop thinking of them in business terms. Liberal media critic Eric Alterman just published a fine column on a topic getting increasing play in some circles: the nonprofit newspaper.
Al Qaeda and the “war on terror” seem to be the ultimate linguistic props. Now you see them, now you don’t.
First, the disappearance — the Washington Post reports in late March on the new name for the “war on terror”:
In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted that “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ “
Then, the reappearance — President Obama speaking on Afghanistan at a NATO summit a week later:
“France recognises that having al-Qaeda operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States but to Europe… In fact it is probably more likely that al-Qaeda would be able to launch a serious terrorist attack in Europe than in the United States because of proximity.”
At least we are getting some variety. Under the Bush Administration, it was all Al Qaeda, all the time.