Learning from immigrants — story ideas

The United States is a nation of immigrants. We learn from each others’ cultures. We absorb things from other societies. And America is stronger for it.

And yet, as a nation of immigrants, as the world’s strongest economy, as the world’s most powerful democracy there is just way too little reporting in the Untied States about the rest of the world.

American news organizations are shutting down overseas bureaus (except NPR) to save money. That means that events in the rest of the world that do affect us are not reported until they reach crisis levels.

Publishers and owners look to the studies of what their readers/viewers want and say, “They want more local news.” What they really hear is “They (the readers/viewers) only want local news.” Big difference.

I think what people want is to be informed as to how and why foreign events affect them in the United States. And that is where too many in the U.S. media fall down. They do not provide context to a story that is not a war or natural disaster.

Without sending reporters to another country, a local news organization get local stories with local sources that can help local readers/viewers get a glimpse of foreign cultures and societies. It is simple: Try talking to the local immigrant communities. (Is that local enough for you?)

Not only will your news outlet get a story about communities not often covered in most mainstream news organizations — unless there is a national festival or political problem — but readers/viewers will also get a better understanding of why these people came to the United States in the first place. They will also learn more about the cultures of these people and maybe stop seeing them as threats.

All this came to mind after I saw a story in today’s PBSNewsHour on the “Immigrant Advantage.”

Wonderful piece on how different cultures deal with common (and special) place events. This should be shown to every local editor and reporter in the United States and to every journalism student. There are tons of stories available that dig into foreign cultures and international connections to local interests. It just takes a bit of imagination and willingness to step outside what the bean counters say.

Listen as MP3: What Immigrants Can Teach the Rest of America about Health, Happiness and Hope

View video and read transcript: What Immigrants Can Teach the Rest of America about Health, Happiness and Hope

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Filed under Connections, Story Ideas

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