This story in the SMH caught my eye yesterday; you wouldn’t really know what it was about from the title, though it is a hint – “Obese, gun-happy and violent; but that’s half the story”. The point is that Fairfax sent Michael Gawenda over here a couple of years ago to be their Washington Correspondent, and in that time, he’s seen both the stereotypical America along with the country that most of us know.
It’s items like this that make me glad for being able to access newspapers and news from around the world, as one point that he makes is very prescient –
It is not surprising that so many Americans consider America to be a world unto itself, which partly at least, explains American provincialism and why many Americans are so apparently incurious about the rest of the world.
If I have failed to convey the complexity of America, I am not alone. Much of the reporting of the place by most foreign correspondents – British, European and Australian – fails the complexity test.
The truth of the matter is that most of the my fellow citizens really only pay attention to what is happening in their area, along with the areas that get coverage from the major news programs and channels. I will disagree with his point about the homelands of the journos who cover this country being complex. If I were sent to, say Australia, with just basic information, or maybe info that I’d culled from a travel guide, there would be a lot of nuance that I’d miss – for example, the split in football codes – Rugby League in NSW, the ACT and QLD, Aussie rules in the other states and territories; Rugby a quiet third, soccer lurking there, and gridiron completely nonexistant.
Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see someone who comes to the country go around and visit the parts of our vast land that don’t get media coverage (read: anywhere other than the Northeast Corridor (that’s Boston to Washington and down into Northern Virginia), Los Angeles, and to a very very much lesser extent, Chicago) to find what I guess you would call the quintessential American.
I have to say that I’d be very interested if they did decide to market his upcoming book here, but I do know that the chances of this happening are likely very small, but you never know.