I grabbed a coffee and a meat pie. I brushed off the huckster trying to convince me to patronize his peep show. I had been traveling all over Australia for the past two months, and I was taking the morning off from sight-seeing and beach-going. I went to the newsstand in Sydney’s King’s Cross district and grabbed the morning paper
It was Sept. 12, 2001 in Australia. Sitting on the stoop in front of that newsstand, the world changed; I never felt more American.
My Two Weeks Without Wolf Blitzer
For the past two weeks I haven’t flipped to CNN or Fox News once. I haven’t read the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. As part of the Go Glocal Project I forced myself to look for news beyond our borders. Once again I saw 9/11 through the eyes of the world. 9/11 changed our lives, but it’s important to remember that it changed a lot of lives in the Mid-East and around the world too.
The new source that I found the most interesting the past two weeks was Al Jazeera English. Of note were stories on American Anti-War Veterans in Their Own Words, 911 First Responders Left in the Cold and how the Taliban offered the U.S. a trial of Bin Laden pre-9/11. The first and the last are stories that likely would not appear at all in the U.S. media, especially not on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And the story on how the first responders are being treated is just plain embarrassing to read. It’s kind of like how you’re okay with a friend (Jon Stewart) pointing out your flaws, but it stings a bit more when it’s someone looking in from the outside.
I also turned to the Economist and The Guardian for news, largely because they have great iPhone apps. Here’s a resource I compiled of other global media outlets that you could turn to. One of the great things about reading news from outlets beyond our borders is that they are written for folks who aren’t supposed to be familiar with all things American. Often American news assumes that we know how Medicare or the electoral college works. Let’s face it, most Americans don’t. But international outlets spend more time explaining the basics. So, reading about the United States in an international newspaper can help you know our country better.
That said, I missed my local newspaper. It made me feel disconnected not reading it every morning. I caught some of the Republican debates, but missing how the debates were being spun drove me nuts. Like it or not, spin is important. As much as I find it interesting to see how other countries report on us, how we report on us matters more.
Are you what you watch?
I noted on a friend’s Facebook wall that I was watching Al Jazeera English. Another commenter couldn’t believe any self-respecting American would watch Al Jazeera. No doubt, he thought I was a terrorist. I’m not sure why seeking out and watching one of the largest networks closest to the heart of much of the world’s major current events is a bad thing. But there you go. Terrorist. Me.
Anyhow, this got me thinking about the stereotypes of media outlets and what where we get our news says about us. (Please excuse me while I share—and have a little fun with—the stereotypes.)
If you watch Fox News, you are conservative redneck who likes to shoot guns like Yosemite Sam.
If you watch MSNBC, you are pot-smoking, tree-hugging communist or Nazi or Socialist or Greenpeace terrorist.
If you watch CNN, you are a pot-smoking closet liberal who secretly desires to change your first name to Wolf.
If you read the Wall Street Journal, you are a soul-crushing businessman who would sell puppy smoothies if you could turn a profit.
If you read the USA Today, you have the attention span of a hummingbird.
If you read the New Yorker, you are an elitist; they use semicolons!
If you watch Al Jazeera, you are an ululating terrorist who wears Death-to-America pajamas.
Anyone want to take a crack at CBS or ABC or any other network or newspaper?
I don’t believe these stereotypes, but I know one thing for sure:
If you are getting all of your news from one source, from one perspective, or one geographic region, you aren’t getting the whole story.
The world is complex and the more angles we can see it from, the better glocals we can be.
3 tips to be a better consumer of news
1. Be a regular at irregular news outlets. Regularly consume news from outside your geographic region. Here’s an in-progress list of info sources for some suggestions. If you find yourself always quoting the same network or the same talking head, you are doing something wrong.
2. Go where the news is. What are the Japanese saying about Fukushima? What are Brazilians saying about the 2016 games? What are Egyptians … Kenyans … Chinese … Nicaraguans … saying? You can find out.
3. All news is glocal: today’s global news is tomorrow’s local news.
The new challenge: Become a Global Volunteer from the comfort of your home
Do you have a passion for fighting global poverty, but you can’t commit to traveling to the other side of the world? No problem. There’s an app for that.
Go to this page on VolunteerMatch.org and select “search for virtual opportunities” along with areas that interest you. Sign up for a project that puts your skills and passions to use and start making a difference.
The United Nations also runs a “volunteering over the Internet page.” I just checked and there are 85 opportunities for writers. How to choose?
Your assignment over the next two weeks is to choose an opportunity and get busy. I’ll report back in two weeks about what I’m doing. I hope you’ll do the same.
Good luck, Glocals!
Oh, and if you want to get updates on all things Glocal, you can join my mobile list by texting GLOCAL to 97063.
Kelsey Timmerman is a sought-after speaker and the author of Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes. He’s a relapsed touron, a dad, a Big with Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and he claims to be one of the top 10 living underwear journalists in Indiana. He can be reached at his blog KelseyTimmerman.com, on Twitter @kelseytimmerman and by email [email protected].