Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States

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Americans often forget that, just as they watch the world through U.S. media, they are also being watched. Foreign correspondents based in the United States report news and provide context to events that are often unfamiliar or confusing to their readers back home. Unfortunately, there has been too little thoughtful examination of the foreign press in America and its role in the world media. Through Their Eyes fills this void in the unmistakable voice of Stephen Hess, who has been reporting on reporting for over a quarter century.

Globalization is shrinking the planet, making it more important than ever to know what is going on in the world and how those events are being interpreted elsewhere. September 11 was a chilling reminder that how others perceive us does matter, like it or not. Hess seeks to answer three basic yet essential journalistic questions: Who are these U.S.-based foreign correspondents? How do they operate? And perhaps most important, what do they report, and how?

Informed by scores of interviews and armed with original survey research, Hess reveals the mindset of foreign correspondents from a broad sample of countries. He examines how reporting from abroad has changed over the past twenty years and addresses the daunting challenges facing these journalists, ranging from home-office politics to national stereotypes. Unique among works on the subject, this book provides an engaging and humanizing "Day in the Life…" section, illustrating how foreign correspondents conduct their daily activities.

This book continues the author's comprehensive Newswork series on the nexus of media, government, and politics. These five books, starting with The Washington Reporters (Brookings, 1981), have become valuable reference materials for all who seek to understand this intersection of journalism and government. Through Their Eyes furthers that rich tradition, making it essential and enjoyable reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This timely analysis aims to understand the ways that foreign journalists in the United States cover this country for the rest of the world." —Scott L. Althaus, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics

"Hess and his research team do a tremendous job of gathering and presenting the data on this unique breed....for practitioners of public diplomacy, Through Their Eyes will certainly be a resource to turn to again and again." —Christopher L. Teal, Foreign Service Journal, 10/1/2006

"This book is truly distinctive —the only work of its kind to my knowledge and one of a very few efforts to look at foreign/international correspondents in the U.S. who cover America like a foreign country. The book includes a major empirical study, but is mostly a narrative that captures the 'feeling tone' of foreign correspondents and their work." —Everette Dennis, Fordham University

"An important contribution... Through Their Eyes, in addition to being written in an easily accessible style for all readers, focuses on a rarely addressed section of the media world —namely how foreign correspondents, based largely in Washington and New York, cover the U.S." —Marvin Kalb, Harvard University

"Nobody knows this material as well as Hess, and his continuing series (there is a volume yet to come) provides the published basis for most of what the rest of us know as well." —Chris Sterling, George Washington University, Communication Booknotes Quarterly, 4/1/2005

"The latest installment, Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States, distills the responses of nearly 600 foriegn journalists working in the United States. The result is a compact monograph that manages to convey the diversity of the ever-growing foreign press corps while drawing out some recurring themes..." —Mike DeBonis, The Washington City Paper, 1/29/2006

"Now and then along comes a book that is worth reading. Through Their Eyes by Stephen Hess is one of them. What makes this book so valuable is the fact that it allows us a rare glimpse at the work of foreign correspondents in the United States--a small but important group of journalists responsible for the perceived image of America abroad." —Lars Willnat, George Washington University, American Journalism, 6/1/2006

"A 'must' for any college-level student in either political studies or communications" — California Bookwatch

Library Journal
In 1999-notably, before 9/11 or the current Iraq war-Hess (media & public affairs, Brookings Inst. scholar and George Washington Univ.; Media and the War on Terrorism, coedited with Marvin Kalb) conducted a survey and subsequently undertook select interviews of foreign correspondents working in the United States. He reached out to journalists from a full spectrum of countries and media (radio, television, newspaper, and magazine). The number of usable responses (439) makes this survey the largest undertaken on the subject. Hess gives a glimpse of the challenges facing foreign reporters, noting such common trends as pressure from editors to report on stories that reinforce negative stereotypes about America, e.g., news stories on crime, and such practical challenges as long work hours and language barriers. With ample tables and quotes, Hess brings the facts directly to the reader. At times, however, his book, the sixth in his "Newswork" series, reads like a dry academic study, with sections that don't flow together as well as they might. Suitable for academic libraries.-Leigh Mihlrad, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine of Yeshiva Univ., Bronx, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815735854
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Series: Newswork Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hess is senior fellow emeritus in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Distinguished Research Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. He has been engaged in presidential transitions since he was a young speechwriter in the EisenhowerWhite House. He returned to the White House with President Richard Nixon, helped Jimmy Carter reorganize the Executive Office and advised the presidential transition teams of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and GeorgeW. Bush. His numerous books include Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States (Brookings, 2005) and Organizing the Presidency (Brookings, 3rd ed in 2002 with James Pfiffner).

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Table of Contents

Guide : the nature of this study and where it fits in the newswork series 1
Context : what may or may not appear in the world's media 10
Then : what we know about foreign correspondents in America, 1955-88 19
Who they are 27
Patterns : some findings, 1999-2003 29
Irregulars : the other foreign correspondents 43
Hollywood : a subject the world loves 50
In America : it's not like being in any other country 56
How they work 67
Time : adjusting to deadliness around the world 69
Contact : whereby the home office gains on foreign correspondents 77
Access : who sees whom, when, and why 83
Help : foreign correspondents as clients of the U.S. government 94
Borrowed news and the Internet : where correspondents turn for information 101
What they report 107
One day : the stories and the categories that they fit in 109
Now : what we know about foreign correspondents in America, the present 120
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