Ethan Zuckerman is cofounder of Global Voices Online and one of the most insightful thinkers around on issues concerning media (both new and old) and society. In a recent article, "The Attention Deficit: Plenty of Content, Yet an Absence of Interest," he looks at the "endangered species" known as foreign correspondents. Although local citizen journalism plays a vitally informative role, particularly during events such as the Haiti earthquake and the protests in Iran, he writes, "the scarce resource in the age of digital journalism is not high-quality content, but attention." In other words, in a media-saturated environment, how do we get Western audiences to notice or care about what's happening in, say, Madagascar or Malaysia?
He was in our office yesterday for a meeting of the Open Society Foundations U.S. Programs board, of which he is a member. I took the opportunity to speak with him about this question (see clip above).
What are your ideas on overcoming "attention deficit" when it comes to international news?