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Monday, April 11, 2011

Foreign News

Our chapter on the mass media discusses the difficulty of covering international news. In this vein, The New York Times reports on its own foreign desk:

Always, though, as the day progresses, a dual mission remains in sight: update news for the Web, yes, but also build stories for tomorrow’s newspaper — especially for the front page.

To do this, the foreign desk operates within a complex system of networks, real and electronic. In the physical network, now stretched by fatigue and rising costs, The Times deploys photographers, correspondents and stringers around the globe, some in bureaus and others on the fly in hot spots. The Times also works closely with The International Herald Tribune, branded as the “global edition” of The Times, and its bureaus in Paris and Hong Kong.

The electronic network of The Times can be seen on Mr. Goodman’s two computer screens. News pours in from the wire services, like The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg and Reuters. Twitter feeds arrive constantly with updates from bloggers and competitors of all kinds. Times internal systems for print and the Web site display and manage stories-in-progress. Instant messages blink on continually as staffers try to stay on the same page.

Presiding over this is Susan Chira, who has been the foreign editor since early 2004. She doesn’t actually have time to “preside,” though. She edits articles, makes decisions, provides moral support to the troops and tries to keep the big picture in view.

Many editors on the desk express concern about the steady flow of news developments and the pressure to post updates on the Web. “We are weighing ourselves against the wires,” Ms. Chira says. “That’s new for us.”

Rick Gladstone, the day editor who keeps the desk’s working list of stories and makes sure The International Herald Tribune gets fed on time, says: “We have become a news service that runs a newspaper. We are all wire editors now.”