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I think there's also a tendency to see the Arab people as abstractions--think the phrase "The Arab Street," as if they are merely features of the landscape.

Ryan Holiday

I just added you to my reader a few days ago, and I'm not sure how I went so long without your site. Good piece.


D.C. Walker

This is a really interesting point about the role journalists-as opposed to those who write op-eds-and how they percieve their role. Most reporters are trained to do just that: report. They train themselves not to think beyond the story in hand, "just the facts, ma'am", and for God's sake don't editorialise. On the other hand, most intelligent consumers of the news look to foreign correspondents to provide a reasonable summary of the conflicting interests that would go some way to helping the formation of an informed opinion. A small example: in the course of my professional life I had the opportunity of asking an experienced China correspondent, who had lived and worked there for almost a decade, her opinion on what impact the internet, in particular the proliferation of blogging, would have on the development of democratic governance in China. Now I know the journalist in question was aware of this issue because she had done a number of stories on the internet and blogging. The reply: "I don't know, I've never really thought about it" floored me. Why not!? Was it a fear of having credentials withdrawn? Of being stonewalled into ineffectiveness? Then a light globe went on. For foreign correspondents and their masters what matters is being there. Analysis is done by people in suits back home, the modern correspondents job (apart from a few honourable exceptions) is providing a kind of breathless wide-eyed commentary that confirms what a nasty place the rest of the world is.

That said I should declare my interest. Yes I am an ex-journo and am now in academia trying to burn off karma.

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