Spanning the journalism globe: Notes from Belize, Brazil and India

The Belize Times recently went out of business. It was the official organ of the opposition People’s United Party.

News about news values

Whenever I am in Belize, I find myself studying the local media for content and context as well as overall standards and practices. Here are two items I’ve written in the past:

On my most recent trip, I spent a few days conducting a communication training seminar for a group of non-profits in the human development sector. We passed a good part of one day talking about local journalism and how to engage reporters in Belize in a way that encourages them to cover some of the important work agencies and organizations do for people living in the margins.

Remember the “news values” many journalists learn about in college? Sharing this list with my group proved to be a great way to get the participants to see the world through the eyes of news hounds. There are no “j-schools” in Belize, so this list may be news to local journalists, although they understand and practice it intuitively. The idea of news values was definitely enlightening for the group I was teaching.

More on news values:

I would say that, in Belize, controversy and conflict tend to trump most of the other news values–with novelty and human interest making a strong showing. Here’s a look at some of the top stories when I was there in late September:

The advantage of focusing on conflict, controversy, human interest and novelty may seem to be that the inherent drama negates the need for context. Of course, this is not true. In Belize, journalists do try to provide context at times. The problem is, the writing and delivery often gets bogged down in officialese, redundancy and contradiction.

In other journalism news…

I came across several interesting items about journalism around the world.

Brazilian newspaper goes online only. This is a brief item about Diário de Natal, from The Guardian’s media blogger Greenslade. Recently, a Belizean newspaper went belly up. This article had me wondering if The Belize Times considered going digital only to save itself.

Citizens Jain. I just read the full article in The New Yorker. It’s about how two brothers are making oodles of money in the thriving India news eco-sphere. They’ve introduced a few innovations that wouldn’t fly in the US, but could work for other countries.

The Global Investigative Journalism Handbook. Steffen Burkhardt, University of Hamburg journalism chair, shared this resource from UNESCO on Twitter. It’s a great resource, especially for journalists who ply their trade in countries where asking uncomfortable questions of those in power can put you in a world of hurt.


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