Monday, September 29, 2003
From my post in Shanghai, China I have seen over the past two, three years how the classic foreign correspondent is on its way out. Both our numbers and budgets are on the way down. In Shanghai our numbers have been rather steady, just over about 50 officially accredited journalists, but because of its development that number should have been higher.
Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok and other reports declines, in Hong Kong even from over 400 five years ago to 170 now.
I see a combination of both economic and more structural changes in our trade. The economic crisis in the media has caused a fast decline, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq meant new dents in our budgets. But the introduction of the internet is causing more structural changes that will change our position more profoundly, even when in a distant future the economies might recover.
In the months to come I will tour the world, including journalism schools in the US and Europe. On my agenda will be one question: what is going to happen to the position of the classic foreign correspondent? And when he is not around to ask questions, who is going to replace him? And when the changes of our post is part of a larger restructering of the way we are getting news, what does this mean for the future of journalism? Is there a future?
The question is not new, I read in an article of Foreign Affairs in 1997. Am I mistaken, is the question as old as journalism itself or are we really looking at something new?