Teaching Examples

Adding on to the usual news
March 4, 2006, 2:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thanks to Google News — which put this Chicago Tribune blog post at the very top of its page this Saturday morning (how odd! And yet, I liked it very much) — I happened to read a few short commentaries about President Bush’s visits to Pakistan and, earlier, India.

The first and most recent post (linked above) on this news blog called “The Swamp” (it’s about Washington) is kind of long, for my taste. And it has no links. So it’s violating two of the usual rules for blog posts — and these are rules that the mainstream reporters often do break in their blogs. But then, there’s this:

“… the Pakistani leader probably wasn’t too pleased when an American reporter asked Bush and Musharraf during the few questions that were permitted if Pakistan is …

“(The limited questioning of world leaders, by the way, is no reflection of Musharraf’s harness on the press. That’s standard operating procedure for Bush when he holds press ‘availabilities’ with foreign leaders, permitting only two questions per side, two questions permitted for reporters from each nation.)”

And there we have a parenthetical aside that we MIGHT find in an Op-Ed column — and yet, I doubt we would see this little essay about the U.S. president in Pakistan in many Op-Ed columns in this country.

Even more interesting to me was the previous post (titled “Religion, father’s name, best beer“) from the Tribune’s man in Pakistan, Mark Silva. It’s a bit of local color that gives us a peek at that thing so alien to most Americans — a Muslim culture. It’s a nice little glimpse, not too xenophobic. I found this post easily from the links to previous posts that this blog — like typical blogs — has listed on the right-hand side of the page.

But then — because this blog is about Washington and not about international affairs — I was disappointed when my backward-reading journey took me to some posts about FAA workers and the Zacarias Moussaoui trial before it brought me back to Mark Silva — of whom I am now a fan. I was rewarded by a post describing Silva’s shopping experience in Delhi. That post was hugely long (1,274 words), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Now that I have exceeded 380 words in this post, I’d better get to the point. Actually, two points.

(1) These blog posts from South Asia add to and enhance the news available to us from other quarters. They are personal — Mark Silva bought the beer and did the shopping himself. If we read these posts, we can learn something about the world we live in. Not something about Silva. Not something about a negotiation between George W. Bush and Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan. Something about being an American in a foreign land, and something about how other people live their daily lives. That is of very great importance to all of us, in my opinion, and something we do not get nearly enough of from the regular news.

(2) The Web is serendipitous. Google News linked me to a blog I probably would not have found otherwise, and after I got there, I found things that interested me. Newspapers can be serendipitous too — but first, someone has to be reading one. Most people today are not reading newspapers. They are clicking links on the Web. So the key to nurturing an informed public today — a public that understands the interconnected world we live in — lies in understanding this serendipity.

That, and making something new seem interesting — the way Mark Silva managed to do in his dispatches from South Asia this week.

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