Missing the local story — Again

The U.S. and Brazilian governments just broke up a major visa fraud operation. Eleven people were arrested Monday (Dec. 7) allegedly running a scam that raised more than US$50 million from thousands of Brazilians since 2002.

The U.S. consulate in Sao Paulo, which first noticed irregularities in visa applications, called this the largest case of U.S. visa fraud ever.

The main law enforcement player in the United States is the prosecutor in Orlando, Fla.

So why did the Orlando Sentinel only settle for an AP story out of Sao Paulo? (Huge US visa fraud scheme broken up in Brazil; suspects accused of taking in $53 million)

It strikes me that the paper — and the rest of Orlando media — should be all over this story with local angles about the case and connections to those arrested. This is a great example of how a local news organization can do a series of major stories with international implications and connections without leaving the city.

Besides looking at this specific case, the local media can look at the issue of work visas and how they are obtained and why (something all those local amusement parks need) or maybe the size and origins of the local immigrant population (reasons for coming to Orlando area, how was passage arranged, etc).

Maybe the reporters could even look at the local legal situation: How many immigrant lawyers are in the area? Has this number grown in recent years? If so, why?

Notice the “Local! Local! Local!” in the previous grafs?

How about it Orlando Sentinel and other Orlando media? You up to do some serious reporting about a major international crime that is centered in your hometown?

First published at the SPJ International Committee blog: Journalism and the World

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

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