PostGlobal, "a conversation on global issues with David Ignatius [of The Washington Post] and Fareed Zakaria [of Newsweek]," is a joint effort of the Post and Newsweek and consists of commentary from the two of them, and assorted posting and commentary from other staffers and folks around the world.
Amar Bakshi, seen in the banner above, is a 23-year-old(!) who helped run the site from Washington and now has a new offshoot project. "How the World Sees America: Amar C. Bakshi Talks to America's Lovers and Haters Around the World." Armed with cameras and a laptop and never-ending curiosity, Bakshi is writing about his adventures, blog style - first in the U.K., then India. Just yesterday, he got word that his visa to Pakistan has come through.
I was supposed to fly home yesterday to Washington DC to recoup for a few weeks before pushing off to Syria or Indonesia. But just five hours before my flight, I got an unexpected call from the Pakistani Embassy. My press visa has come through. Four months after applying for it, I’m now allowed to spend one week in Pakistan. Not a lifetime, but better than nothing.
Life in this business does seem to turn on the tiniest intervals of time. So I’ve canceled my flight home, and in its place booked a flight to Lahore for next week.
Here's what Zakaria has to say about the project: "Everybody talks about using the web in new ways. Amar Bakshi is doing it. His video-journal of the world's perceptions about America is fascinating and groundbreaking. It's well worthing watching or reading or whatever it is we do when we're looking at a computer screen these days."
As you can see from the photo on the right, all the travels have had a real impact on the clean-cut young man above.
SAJAforum asked him three questions about his project - the answers are below. You will also find highlight posts and the original press release below. Post your comments, please.
Here are just a few highlights of his trip so far.
- BMX: Rails Smoother on the Other Side
- Blackburn Muslims Happy, Afraid That Could Change
- Toying with Taliban, and Turning Back
- How England Sees America
THREE QUESTIONS FOR AMAR BAKSHI
Q: Congrats on the launch. In a time when newsrooms are cutting
back on foreign reporting, how did you convince yours to launch this
A: Embracing multimedia and the web really helped. I largely pitched a format and an approach -- having readers follow one extended journey across the world and encouraging them to interact with me, guide some of the questions, and watch on-the-ground footage everyday from diverse locations.
Also, by covering perceptions, I managed to carve out a terrain that's very important to understanding world news, but doesn't compete directly with standard foreign reporting.
I also pitched this project as a relatively new way to use
multimedia to engage readers in international issues and make coverage
a bit more interactive, which could prove useful for other
correspondents as well.
Q: Most 23-year-olds are still finding their footing in journalism and here you are doing something bold and exciting. Did you age actually serve as an advantage with this new media venture?
A: To some extent, yes. David and Fareed really wanted to pull in younger readers, and make international affairs fun, lively, and a bit more interpersonal. What's it like to be growing up in Iran now as 50-Cent-loving teenager? How do young cadets in Pakistan feel about their alliance with the U.S.?
Often, older, diplomatic figures comment on world affairs, talking more about politics than people. This project is trying to show how the broad, global issue of America's role in the world affects individual lives in very specific, personal ways. Though my project isn't limited to the youth, I'm particularly interested in their take on America since a lot depends on it.
Q: Any tips for journalists who'd like to do this kind of work? What kind of skills and knowledge does one need?
A: There's a lot of room to explore how short video clips (under a minute) can contribute to the experience of reading text, and vice versa. Videographers online generally have created longer 3-6 minute stand-alone clips that take quite some time to produce. I'm hoping to figure out a good relationship between text and short video.
As far as doing this kind of work, a willingness to fly by the seat of ones pants is important, love of the visual is useful, and the capacity to allay the fears of one's worried is parents absolutely essential.
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Kris Coratti, kris.coratti[at]wpni.com
Donna Drew Sawyer, donna.sawyer[at]wpni.com
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive’s PostGlobal Launches
“How the World Sees America”
Site Explores the Love-Hate Relationship with America through Unique First-Hand Global Commentary
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2007 – Armed only with a journalist’s curiosity, a digital video camera, a starting point, a rough itinerary and few seconds to capture a compelling story; Amar Bakshi wants to know what individuals around the world really think about America – why some love us, why some hate us and how we affect their lives day-to-day. Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), the online publishing subsidiary of The Washington Post Company, today announced the launch of “How the World Sees America,” a new multimedia blog on PostGlobal, the online conversation on global issues moderated by Washington Post Columnist, David Ignatius and Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria. (http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal).
Through daily 30-second video clips and blog entries, PostGlobal correspondent and videographer, Amar Bakshi, 23, will ask readers to help guide his itinerary, interviews and questions as he puts a human face on what the global community really thinks about America.
“With ‘How the World Sees America’ we are promoting a new type of global commentary. By combining in-the-field reporting and emerging technology, PostGlobal can now share multimedia stories about people and places in the news. We can connect America and the world in a new way, and explore the reasons for America's growing unpopularity in many countries,” says David Ignatius award-winning journalist and moderator of PostGlobal.
“Bakshi has the opportunity to get behind the rhetoric and interview real people for insight into how U.S. policy, events and culture affect the world.”
The first leg of Bakshi’s exploration takes him to the United Kingdom, Pakistan and India. Subsequent destinations will be dictated by world events and reader suggestions; perhaps Egypt and Iran, China and Japan or Mexico and Venezuela. One day Bakshi may feature interviews from a protest rally on the streets of Islamabad, another may offer perspectives from an underground rave in Manchester, and on yet another day, he may share insights from a factory worker in Bangalore.
“This is a significant break from other forms of online journalism where a videographer spends three weeks making a 5 minute clip,” states Amar Bakshi. “Everyday readers can follow my journey in detail. The idea is to get them involved in some of the decision making that goes into ‘How the World Sees America’,” he adds.
PostGlobal provides a running discussion of important issues among dozens of the world's best-known editors, writers and journalists. Now, through the “How the World Sees America,” project, PostGlobal offers readers an even more immediate response to those issues. Through glimpses into interesting lives, reactions to world issues and events and diverse perspectives on the United States from shopkeepers, students, small town officials, entertainers, booksellers and carpet makers, readers can interact with a cross-section of the global community.
“The goal of ‘How the World Sees America’ is to foster a global community of users who wish to create an open dialogue with one another. Not just about politics, but also about each other’s everyday way of life.” says Bakshi. “It is an opportunity to explore and engage in conversation about topics that may otherwise not receive exposure in mainstream media. Ultimately, this project will show the humanity of distant populations.”
Since its launch in June 2006, PostGlobal has offered a dynamic running discussion of important issues. Each Monday and Thursday, they post a question for responses from members of a diverse network of more than 40 commentators from 32 countries in six regions around the globe— from China to Iran, South Africa to Saudi Arabia, Mexico to India – wherever news is happening. Natalie Ahn is PostGlobal’s Editor/Producer.
About Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI) is the online publishing subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO). Its mission is to create truly interactive platforms that offer unmatched user experiences by developing editorial products with world-class reporting, multimedia features and award-winning content.
WPNI’s news and information sites, which include washingtonpost.com, Slate, Newsweek.com and Budget Travel Online, inform and encourage conversation and debate while reaching millions of unique and active users each month. WPNI properties’ long lists of awards include the first-ever Emmy for original video journalism online awarded to washingtonpost.com, as well as National Journalism Awards, Pictures of the Year International Award, several Digital Edge Awards, multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards and White House New Photographer's Association Awards, among others.
The company is headquartered in Arlington, VA.
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