YouTube becoming site of choice for al-Qaeda to spread propaganda

February 21, 2007

* Iraqi government: Al-Jazeera is contributing to “death and destruction”
* NBC military analyst quits citing left-wing bias
* Global newspaper circulation up sharply despite internet
* New York Times ignores Pakistani Islamic assassination

 

CONTENTS

1. Internet users transformed into news reporters
2. Newspaper circulation is growing despite internet
3. Sulzberger: NY Times focusing on transition from print to internet
4. NBC military analyst quits citing left-wing bias
5. Star BBC presenter says he has “fallen in love with Iran”
6. Iraqi government: Al-Jazeera contributing to “death and destruction”
7. YouTube: The propaganda outlet for Iraqi insurgents
8. Mohammed cartoons published for first time in England
9. Foreign correspondents: “An expensive indulgence”
10. Tel Aviv bombing prevented yesterday
11. Update: Elie Wiesel attacker apprehended
12. Update: Prince Bin Talal denies involvement in Tel Aviv hotel project
13. Update: Prof. Ariel Toaff denies “blood libels”
14. “Iraqi Government: Al-Jazeera Channel contributing to the spread of death” (Asharq Al-Awsat, Feb. 8, 2007)
15. “Demise of the Foreign Correspondent” (Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

Since there are a large number of journalists on this list, I occasionally send dispatches dealing mainly with developments in the media, of which this is one.

INTERNET USERS TRANSFORMED INTO NEWS REPORTERS

As photo and video-taking mobile (cell) phones and digital movie cameras grow ubiquitous, Internet users worldwide are being recruited to become “citizen news reporters.” Two new websites, NowPublic.com and YouWitnessNews (created by Yahoo), are sites that post offerings from users including pictures, videos, commentary and opinions.

NowPublic and YouWitnessNews have formed alliances with traditional international news wire services and provide them with photos and other content. Inspiration for YouWitnessNews came as Yahoo News editors were searching for pictures in the wake of the terror attacks on London underground trains in July 2005.

As a result, participatory journalism is expected to influence traditional news operations in the future as reporters receive tips or ideas from people online or respond to news broken by people in the right places at the right times.

“If a bomb went off in Budapest and you wanted to connect with someone within a mile of the scene, we find them for you,” NowPublic’s chief executive said. “Our job is to provide an army of people who are eyes and ears that journalists can build around.”

Vancouver-based NowPublic says it now has 60,000 contributing “reporters” in more than 140 countries, and is continuing to double in size every three months.

NEWSPAPER CIRCULATION IS GROWING DESPITE INTERNET

In spite of the Internet, and contrary to widespread negative assumptions about the newspaper industry, global newspaper circulation is growing – by 2.36% in 2005, and up by 9.95% since 2001 – according to new data from the World Association of Newspapers.

New newspaper titles are also being launched at a remarkable rate. Global newspaper circulation rose in 2005 (the most recent year for which data is available), as the number of titles passed 10,000 for the first time. The total number of paid-for daily newspaper titles worldwide rose to 10,104, up 13% from 2001, when there were 8,930 titles.

450 million copies of newspapers were sold daily in 2005. Free daily newspaper circulation was also up sharply, more than doubling from 2001 to 2005, from 12m copies in 2001 to 28m in 2005.

SULZBERGER: NY TIMES FOCUSING ON TRANSITION FROM PRINT TO INTERNET

The New York Times posted losses of $570 million this month and Arthur Sulzberger, owner, chairman and publisher of what leftists believe is the most respected newspaper in the world, is a worried man.

During a casual chat with a journalist from the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Sulzberger said, “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either... The Internet is a wonderful place to be, and we’re leading there.”

The New York Times has doubled its online readership to 1.5 million a day to complement its 1.1 million subscribers for its print edition. The average age of readers of the New York Times print edition is 42. The average age of readers of its Internet edition is 37. (It still falls far short of the circulation for the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, America’s two most read daily newspapers.)

“We are curators, curators of news. People don’t click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust,” Sulzberger said. I’m sure that what we wrote and what we’re about to write is right.”

* In today’s New York Times there are, as usual, many examples of how its coverage is far from thorough. For example, Fox News and other media today report on the Pakistani woman minister who was murdered yesterday by a religious fanatic.

This Fox item, which came via the London Times was titled “Female Pakistani Minister Shot Dead for Refusing to Wear Veil.” It starts: “Zilla Huma Usman, the minister for social welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was killed as she was about to deliver a speech to dozens of party activists, by a ‘fanatic’, who believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics, officials said.”

But the New York Times, instead of writing about this, leads with a story about Pakistani Islamic women who occupied a library to stop an illegally built mosque from being destroyed.

* For more on Sulzberger and the New York Times, please see “All the news that’s fit to print?”.

NBC MILITARY ANALYST QUITS, CITING LEFT-WING BIAS

NBC military analyst Ken Allard has resigned from the network after 10 years there, saying he could no longer put up with the left-wing bias at NBC News.

The final straw, he said, was NBC’s failure to criticize remarks made by another of its analysts, Bill Arkin, who implied the American military was full of “mercenaries” raking in “obscene amenities”.

STAR BBC PRESENTER SAYS HE HAS “FALLEN IN LOVE WITH IRAN”

Rageh Omaar, the former star BBC presenter made famous by his coverage of the run-up to the war in Iraq, where he was nicknamed the “Scud stud,” has told The Guardian newspaper that he has now “fallen in love with Iran.”

Omaar, the former BBC world affairs correspondent, is among many western journalists who have been lured to work at the English-language Al-Jazeera International.

But in a recent program he made in a freelance capacity for the BBC, titled “Rageh Inside Iran,” he describes Iran as a “Wonderland”. Omaar told The Guardian that “it is remarkable that here is an Islamic society ruled by a theocracy where drug addiction is openly discussed, there’s rehab, there’s HIV education. You wouldn’t find that in most pro-western ‘democratic’ Arab regimes. Here is an Islamic country that is being prodded and poked and held up to scrutiny by its own people.”

When asked by The Guardian about “the more troublesome parts of Iranian society,” Omaar replied that “there is oppression, people being stoned and hanged and all that” but “none of that is in the film.”

IRAQI GOVERNMENT: AL-JAZEERA CONTRIBUTING TO “DEATH AND DESTRUCTION”

The Iraqi government has accused the Al-Jazeera satellite channel of “contributing to the spread of death and destruction” through its news coverage of the events in Iraq.

In a statement, the Iraqi cabinet said that the “Al-Jazeera channel continues to adopt a clear and blatant hostile position towards the Iraqi public, contributing to the spread of death and destruction on Iraq’s noble land through its adoption of an antagonistic project that is obviously against Iraq and its people.”

The Iraqi government believes that “Al-Jazeera channel aired programs through which it tried to spread confusion and distort the facts, in addition to diverting international public opinion away from the catastrophic crimes committed by the death squads and the rampant destruction and organized terrorism on Iraqi land.”

In response Al-Jazeera described the Iraqi cabinet’s statement as “without justification or basis” and that the Iraqi government was “searching for a scapegoat to justify its failure to achieve security and stability for the Iraqi people.” For more, see the first article attached below, from the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

YOUTUBE: THE PROPAGANDA OUTLET FOR IRAQI INSURGENTS

As is noted in a recent study by The Associated Press, “With the global spread of high-speed Internet connections and the relative anonymity afforded by the world’s biggest and busiest sites, extremists have found a new theater to display violence and anti-American propaganda.”

Iraqi insurgents are now using mainstream sites such as YouTube to post videos of bombings and sniper attacks against U.S. forces – shot and edited by Islamic militants and broadcast on the world’s largest video-sharing Web site.

Until recently, videos shot by terrorist groups were posted predominantly on specialist Internet forums, which often only those knowing what to look for could find. But more are turning to mainstream sites like YouTube, which draw millions of visitors around the world each day.

Mark Rasch, a former U.S. Justice Department computer crimes prosecutor, said the videos at YouTube and other sites are evidence of “a new front in the propaganda battle.” “It’s here to stay. It’s going to get worse – we are going to see real-time executions with higher production values.”

Jeremy Curtin, a U.S. State Department official responsible for monitoring Internet propaganda, said authorities were aware of the footage on sites like YouTube but had not made any real headway in tackling the problem.

YouTube – which was recently bought by Google Inc. – receives some 65,000 new clips to post each day. Users collectively watch more than 100 million videos on YouTube daily.

YouTube says it reserves the right to remove videos that users flag as unsuitable. “YouTube has clear terms and conditions which prohibit, amongst other things, hateful content,” the company said in a statement. “Our community has been highly effective in policing the site, and YouTube removes videos if our community flags them as inappropriate.”

A recent search conducted by The Associated Press, points to many problematic examples. For instance, in a video carrying the logo of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni insurgent groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq, a man stands in a deserted field beside a blue car.

Speaking in Arabic, he gives what he describes as his final testament before a suicide car bombing that he claims will target a U.S. convoy in Tal Afar, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad. Moments later, the footage shows what appears to be a checkpoint, followed by an explosion. The man shooting the film screams, “Allahu akbar. (God is great.)”

Tens of thousands of people have viewed these kind of videos since they were posted in the last three months, according to YouTube’s view counter on the site.

In another video entitled “Qanaas Baghdad Episode II,” a man purporting to be an Iraqi sniper offers tips on attacking U.S. soldiers. As music plays, a group of soldiers stand at the side of a bustling, dusty street. The sniper locks on to one of them. A second later, the soldier falls to the ground.

An example of one of these terrorist videos can be seen here.

A list of some of the other insurgent and propaganda videos from YouTube can be seen here.

MOHAMMED CARTOONS PUBLISHED FOR FIRST TIME IN ENGLAND

A cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed has appeared for the first time in a publication in England, reports the Cambridge News.

The cartoon was printed in a Cambridge University student magazine, in the Clare College’s special edition on religious satire. The 19-year-old student who printed the cartoon has since gone into hiding after threats. Asim Mumtaz, president of the Muslim Association, said: “I’m horrified and shocked. In such a seat of learning, I am horrified that things could stoop to this level.”

The cartoon was printed alongside a picture of the president of the Union of Clare Students, with the captions switched. There was also a comment suggesting one was a “violent paedophile” and the other was “a prophet of God, great leader and an example to us all”.

The college has called a rare Court of Discipline to decide how the student should be brought to account.

* For more on the Mohammed cartoons, please see this newly designed page on my website, which among other things includes the Mohammed cartoons originally featured in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten: “To be or not to be”.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS: “AN EXPENSIVE INDULGENCE”

The second article below, from the Washington Post, examines what the writer, Pamela Constable, calls the “demise of the foreign correspondent”. Due to the rise of the Internet, some newspapers have struggled and as a result “they see foreign coverage as an indulgence they can’t afford.”

Constable argues that “newspapers can also fill an important niche between television and academe, offering an accessible way for busy people to learn about distant events and an outlet for writing that captures the essence of a time and place without polemics or pedantry. They can put events in context, explain human behavior and belief, evoke a way of life. Foreign correspondents can burrow into a society, cultivate strangers’ trust, follow meandering trails and dig beneath layers of diplomatic spin and government propaganda.”

In January, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore Sun all announced that they were to close down their offices in Israel. This comes hot on the heels of Newsday who also recently shut its bureau in Israel. In spite of this, each and every action of Israel continues to be scrutinized by international media to a much greater extent than any other nation on the planet.

-- Tom Gross

 

TEL AVIV BOMBING PREVENTED YESTERDAY

As not reported by the international media properly today:

Israeli police yesterday discovered an eight-pound bomb in a trash can in a city close to Tel Aviv. Following a tip off from Israeli intelligence, officers raided an apartment just south of Tel Aviv where they picked up a young Palestinian. He is said to have taken them to a place where he dropped off the device, for a second person to carry to its final destination in Tel Aviv. It is understood he was working on the orders of Islamic Jihad and entered Israel through an area near Jerusalem where Israel’s security barrier has not yet been completed. Three other Palestinians were arrested in connection with the foiled plot.

There was no mention of the thwarted Tel Aviv terror attack in the Washington Post, the Independent, Daily Telegraph, and Times of London, among other newspapers I checked. The BBC only mentioned it in passing on their website after reporting on the death of a leader of Islamic Jihad.

 

UPDATES

These are updates to three of the items in Monday’s dispatch (Stanford University to show Turkish blood libel film (& Saudi Prince to build hotel in Tel Aviv)).

UPDATE: ELIE WIESEL ATTACKER APPREHENDED

Eric Hunt, the man accused of attacking the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, has now been arrested in New Jersey. He will soon be transferred to San Francisco to stand trial.

UPDATE: PRINCE BIN TALAL DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN TEL AVIV HOTEL PROJECT

I was sent this Press Release from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s office:

RIYADH, 20 February 2007 - Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s office at Kingdom Holding Company termed a recent report in Yediot Ahronot, an Israeli newspaper, as “false and baseless.” In a clarification issued by the office yesterday, the office said: “We at KHC clarify that the information in a recent article in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot about a hotel project in Tel Aviv published on Feb. 15 is false and baseless.

We would like to thank the local, regional and international media for their news coverage about KHC and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. However, we at KHC urge writers to verify information related to significant/important news before publishing, to maintain the integrity and credibility of their reputable publication. Media queries can be sent to fax: +966 1 211 1205 e-mail: mfn@kingdom.net.

With this, KHC confirms its commitment to support the Middle East peace process and will base its investment strategies in accordance with the international community’s ambition to achieve long lasting peace in the region.”

UPDATE: PROF. ARIEL TOAFF DENIES “BLOOD LIBELS”

Prof. Ariel Toaff, of Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, has asked his Italian publisher to halt distribution of his book (“Easter of Blood: European Jews and ritual homicides”) so that “clarifications” can be inserted. Prof. Toaff says his research and writings, which he claimed had been misinterpreted, were not in any way meant to be used as a justification for blood libel.

In a statement he added: “I feel deeply responsible for the recent events which have transpired, and in order to express my profound regret regarding the misrepresentations that were attributed to me and which hurt the Jewish people, I have decided to donate all the funds forthcoming from the sale of this publication to further the activities of the Anti-Defamation League.

“I will never allow any Jew-hater to use me or my research as an instrument for fanning the flames, once again, of the hatred that led to the murder of millions of Jews... I have decided to ask my publisher to stop the book’s distribution, so that I can insert the requisite clarifications as speedily as possible. I am taking these steps in order to prevent the further misuse of my book as anti-Semitic propaganda.”

Tom Gross adds: Newspapers around the world reported leading Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera’s claims that “a Jewish academic has shocked Italy by stating that Jews murdered Christians during the Middle Ages so that their blood could be used in ritualistic ceremonies.” Toaff has been widely criticized by many leading figures, including the former chief rabbi of Rome.

Despite Toaff’s apology, it seems the damage has already been done. For example, the (London) Daily Telegraph reported: “In the book, Prof Toaff describes the mutilation and crucification of a two-year-old boy to recreate Christ’s execution at Pesach, the Jewish Easter. The festival marks the fleeing of the Jews from Egypt and Prof Toaff says Christian blood was used for ‘magic and therapeutic practices.’ In some cases the blood was mixed with dough to make the azzimo, unleavened bread, eaten at Pesach.”

Other historians have dismissed Prof. Toaff’s claims as “complete lies”. One said: “The only blood split in these stories was that of many innocent Jews killed for unjust accusations.”



FULL ARTICLES

AL-JAZEERA CONTRIBUTING TO “DEATH AND DESTRUCTION”

Iraqi Government: Al-Jazeera Channel contributing to the spread of death
Asharq Al-Awsat
February 8, 2007

The Iraqi government has accused Al Jazeera satellite channel of “contributing to the spread of death and destruction” through its news coverage of the events in Iraq. This comes two years following the closure of the channel’s office in Baghdad.

In a statement, the Iraqi cabinet said that, “Al Jazeera channel continues to adopt a clear and blatant hostile position towards the Iraqi public, contributing to the spread of death and destruction on Iraq’s noble land through its adoption of an antagonistic project that is obviously against Iraq and its people.

Al Jazeera described the Iraqi cabinet’s statement as “without justification or basis.”

Ahmed al Sheikh, the editor-in-chief of Al-Jazeera television said, “What have we done… Nothing.” He sees that, “the Iraqi government is searching for a scapegoat to justify its failure to achieve security and stability for the Iraqi people,” according to Reuters news agency. The Iraqi government had banned Al-Jazeera channel from operating in Iraq two years ago despite the fact that the English service of the channel has an office in Baghdad and continues to broadcast from the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi government believes that, “Al Jazeera channel aired programs through which it tried to spread confusion and distort the facts, in addition to diverting international public opinion away from the catastrophic crimes committed by the death squads and the rampant destruction and organized terrorism on Iraqi land.” The ministerial statement added, “we invite the representatives of the Iraqi people in the House of Representatives to take a firm and clear stand against the channel, and to use legal ways to persecute and deter it away from its approach that is hostile to the aspirations and expectations of Iraq’s people and its national government.”

The Iraqi government did offer an explanation for this new criticism; however an official from the ruling Shiaa coalition said that a talk show, which was broadcast the day before last, criticized the government and the Shiaa parties.

An Iraqi media official had issued a request to the parliament to take a ‘clear and decisive’ stance towards the Qatari satellite channel, accusing Al-Jazeera of airing “discrimination and outright animosity, also propagating confusion and distorting the facts.”

According to the head of the national media center of the cabinet’s secretariat, “Al-Jazeera adopts a blatantly antagonistic position against Iraq’s people and is a tool for spreading discord among the sons of one nation. It is a means of [spreading] killing, death and destruction,” as related by Agence France-Press (AFP).

 

“KNOWING ABOUT THE WORLD IS NOT A LUXURY; IT IS AN URGENT NECESSITY”

Demise of the Foreign Correspondent
By Pamela Constable
The Washington Post
February 18, 2007

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/16/AR2007021601713.html

When I think back on the most momentous events of my professional life, they include scenes of both devastation and deliverance. The boulevards of Manila, flooded with peaceful demonstrators chanting for Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos to abandon power. The slums of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where a joyful, gyrating mob of slum-dwellers is celebrating the election of populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. The highlands of Guatemala or Peru, where grave sites conceal the victims of atrocity.

If the Boston Globe had not sent me abroad as a foreign correspondent in 1983, and allowed me to spend a decade in Latin America and other regions of the world, I would never have been able to witness these historic changes – and bring them alive to readers back home. Even then, the Globe was one of only a handful of American newspapers willing to invest in the luxury of its own foreign staff, and I was keenly aware of how privileged I was to do all this while drawing a steady paycheck.

Today, Americans’ need to understand the struggles of distant peoples is greater than ever. Our troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries that we did not know enough about when we invaded them and that we are still trying to fathom. We have been victimized by foreign terrorists, yet we still cannot imagine why anyone would hate us. Our economy is intimately linked to global markets, our population is nearly 20 percent foreign-born, and our lives are directly affected by borderless scourges such as global warming and AIDS. Knowing about the world is not a luxury; it is an urgent necessity.

But instead of stepping up coverage of international affairs, American newspapers and television networks are steadily cutting back. The Globe, which stunned the journalism world last month by announcing that it would shut down its last three foreign bureaus, is the most recent example.

Between 2002 and 2006, the number of foreign-based newspaper correspondents shrank from 188 to 141 (excluding the Wall Street Journal, which publishes Asian and European editions). The Baltimore Sun, which had correspondents from Mexico to Beijing when I went to work there in 1978, now has none. Newsday, which once had half a dozen foreign bureaus, is about to shut down its last one, in Pakistan. Only four U.S. papers – the Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and The Washington Post – still keep a stable of foreign correspondents.

It takes a lot of money to maintain an office in a foreign capital. A typical newspaper bureau overseas costs at least $250,000 a year, according to foreign editors, and a large, security-conscious news operation in a city such as Baghdad can hemorrhage four times that.

But today many readers are switching to other information sources – including Web sites and even blogs – that have left newspapers struggling to survive. Many family-owned papers have been acquired by corporations that see foreign coverage as an indulgence they can’t afford.

In an effort to cut costs, newspapers are replacing bureaus – which require staffs and cars and family housing – with mobile, trouble-shooting individual correspondents. The erstwhile bureau chief in New Delhi or Cairo, chatting with diplomats over rum punches on the veranda, is now an eager kid with a laptop and an Arabic phrase book in her backpack. Freelancers can help cover more remote or incremental stories, and newswire agencies can cover breaking news in global hot spots – but neither is enough.

Television, meanwhile, continues to bring us instant images of the latest Baghdad market bombing or flimsy refugee shacks in Sudan’s Darfur region, but its coverage of the world is increasingly selective as well as superficial.

Although more than 80 percent of the public obtains most of its foreign and national news from TV, the major networks are also closing down foreign bureaus, concentrating their resources on a few big stories such as Iraq.

In the 1980s, American TV networks each maintained about 15 foreign bureaus; today they have six or fewer. ABC has shut down its offices in Moscow, Paris and Tokyo; NBC closed bureaus in Beijing, Cairo and Johannesburg. Aside from a one-person ABC bureau in Nairobi, there are no network bureaus left at all in Africa, India or South America – regions that are home to more than 2 billion people.

In a speech at Columbia University last week, veteran TV news anchor Walter Cronkite warned that pressure by media companies to generate increasing profits is threatening our nation’s values and freedom by leaving people less informed. In today’s complicated world, “the need for high-quality reporting is greater than ever,” he said. “It’s not just the journalist’s job at risk here. It’s American democracy.”

Even at their best, newspapers are also a limited medium. I have always been acutely aware that no matter how deeply I burrowed into a society or how many people I interviewed, I was only peeling back the most superficial layers of complex, murky worlds in which people routinely lied, every incident had a contradictory version, and no 1,500-word article could possibly do justice to the truth.

Yet newspapers can also fill an important niche between television and academe, offering an accessible way for busy people to learn about distant events and an outlet for writing that captures the essence of a time and place without polemics or pedantry. They can put events in context, explain human behavior and belief, evoke a way of life. Foreign correspondents can burrow into a society, cultivate strangers’ trust, follow meandering trails and dig beneath layers of diplomatic spin and government propaganda.

As a young reporter, I devoured the work of famous foreign correspondents and yearned to follow in their footsteps as they chronicled human travails and endeavors: the flight into exile, the search for work, the upheaval of war, the pilgrimage of faith. Joe Lelyveld, accompanying black workers on their daily bus commute into a South African city. Michael Herr, following a psychedelic trail of tears through the jungles of Vietnam. Freya Stark in the 1930s, following the great frankincense road: “On its stream of padding feet the riches of Asia travelled; along its slow continuous thread the Arabian empires rose and fell.” Some may call this highbrow tourism, but I agree with the late Polish correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski: There is something more valuable and more enduring than facts.

The best work that I produced over the years, and that resonated most with readers, were the stories that took the time and space to portray an alien world in detail. The road trip across Afghanistan during Taliban rule, where veiled women told me they finally felt safe from marauding militias. The train ride across India with a family to baptize their son in the Ganges, which they fervently believed would protect him for life. The portrait of a poor Afghan village where tiny children begged me not to destroy the family’s opium poppy crop. The trial of the Pakistani man who carved up his wife’s face in a jealous rage, and then told me with great satisfaction that he had avenged his family honor.

Although many people have a glamorous image of foreign correspondents, theirs is a lonely, gritty and often dangerous way of life. During my years on the road, I have landed in capitals where I knew no one, all hell was breaking loose and I had 10 hours until deadline. I have lain in sweltering hotel rooms staring at spiders, outrun drunken soldiers waving pistols, interviewed hysterical teenagers who vowed to murder all Americans, inhaled tear gas with angry mobs, gone weeks without a hot meal or shower.

I never regretted a minute of it – and I never thought I’d be a member of a dying breed. I know that change is inevitable, that fewer people are buying our products and that the news business must adapt or sink. But putting aside my nostalgia for literary nomadism, I am convinced that cutting back on first-hand reporting from abroad and substituting cheaper, simpler forms of overseas news delivery is a false economy and a grave mistake.

Don’t we learn more about Islam from Anthony Shadid’s wide-ranging Post interviews with thoughtful Muslims in Egypt and Turkey than from images of the latest bombing in Baghdad? Don’t we identify more with Sharon LaFraniere’s New York Times portraits of village customs in Malawi and Mozambique than with dry reports about the grim toll of AIDS across Africa? If newspapers stop covering the world, I fear we will end up with a microscopic elite reading Foreign Affairs and a numbed nation watching terrorist bombings flash briefly among a barrage of commentary, crawls and celebrity gossip.

Even amid the broader wave of newspaper cutbacks, the announcement that the Globe was shutting down its foreign bureaus hit a special nerve among newspaper journalists. Somehow it seemed a watershed in the inexorable surrender of an honorable craft to the bottom line.

Many of us knew and admired Elizabeth Neuffer, a Globe correspondent who spent several years searching for mass killers in Rwanda and Bosnia, and later published a riveting book about her findings. Elizabeth, who died in a car accident in Iraq in 2003, believed in following the truth to its source, and the paper she worked for gave her the space and resources to do so. Now I fear we are witnessing the demise of the kind of journalism that permitted such quests at all.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.