SATURDAY

Foreign correspondents once lived by what’s known as “Barber’s axiom”: “Happiness is in direct proportion to one’s distance from the home office.” That meant plenty of time for lunches with the likes of Alistair Cooke, drinks at the Willard with State Department sources, and leisurely afternoons spent hobnobbing at the Foreign Press Center—all while mulling that 2,500-word analysis piece for Sunday’s Frankfurter Allegemeine. Those days are over. Today, working for the likes of Agence France-Presse, Yomiuri Shimbun, or ITAR-TASS is more like being trapped in Glengarry Glen Ross—Always! Be! Filing! And, like most problems in the media these days, you can blame CNN. These revelations come courtesy of Stephen Hess, a longtime Brookings Institution fellow responsible for “Newswork,” a series of six books that date back to 1981 and detail the interactions between the government and the media in America. The latest installment, Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States, distills the responses (gathered through extensive surveys and interviews) of nearly 600 foreign journalists working in the United States. The result is a compact monograph that manages to convey the diversity of the ever-growing foreign press corps while drawing out some recurring themes—for instance, how correspondents battle incessantly against their homelands’ prejudices (including their editors’) toward Americans; how cable-TV news has managed to get American police chases on Spanish television; and how common it is for foreign reporters to “borrow” their story ideas—if not their reporting—from The New York Times. Hess appears at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Mike DeBonis)

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