The Internet Screws(?) Foreign Reporting

Current TV freelancers Laura Ling and Euna Lee are locked in a North Korean prison. Do you know whose fault this is? That's right, the internet's! It's true.

You don't see us reporting live from North Korea. That's not just because we are lazy internet hacks inferior in all ways to grizzled "real" journalists; it's also because "real" journalists work for big organizations like, say, the New York Times, which bristle with lawyers and diplomatic connections to get you out of trouble in a perilous foreign environment, whereas we just have one lawyer here who is way too busy defending our right to make slanderous jokes to help us out if we get arrested in North Korea, or kidnapped in Colombia, or whatnot.

In this way you see that the internet makes foreign reporting unsafe! Because all those big "real" news organization are actually going broke, thanks to the internet, and all the reporting is migrating over to shoestring-budgeted online operations like, for example, Current (which is actually bigger than most!), which are fine when it comes to getting news out over the internet, but are not so well prepared to trot out teams of lawyers and private security guards to keep its correspondents safe, cost be damned.

So here we are: the old outlets that used to sponsor all these daring foreign correspondents are increasingly unable to, because their businesses have been totally gutted by clever little lithe internet operations, which are clever and lithe precisely because they're far too stripped-down to ever spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars sponsoring dangerous foreign reporting, which is really an extremely high cost-per-word proposition, and not that widely read, besides. So foolish brave reporters take it upon themselves to do this exciting reporting anyhow, with little safety net, and then we get a situation like the North Korean one today.

Sure, it's tempting to "blame the internet." But if you people clicked more on stories about North Korea than stories about, say, Megan Fox, then maybe foreign reporting would still be profitable enough for even tiny news outlets to hire good foreign handlers.

That's not to say big papers get to be holier-than-thou on this issue—reporters for the biggest media outlets in the world are just as likely as anyone to have their people kidnapped or arrested. More likely, at the moment! But that's changing. Which means the need for a Journalism-Saving Delta Force is now greater than ever. If they put Megan Fox on it, it'll pay for itself.
[NYT. Pic: AP]