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A fighting chance

Por Julie Noce

About a month ago, the US State Department announced plans to limit visas for foreign students and foreign journalists, amongst others.

Today, the US immigration agency will begin reviewing those plans in a lengthy process that would last well past the elections.

The proposal would mean foreign correspondents in the US would only be allowed to stay in the country for about half a year when previously, they were allowed to stay up to five years.

Calling the current administration “xenophobic” is an understatement, and this is but one of the many immigration problems facing the country right now.

Suffice to say, if foreign journalists are only allowed into the US for a few months, the perceptions they make, the impressions they form, and their coverage and reporting will be severely insufficient and even more prone to stereotypes than it already is.

During my time as a producer for various foreign correspondents in Washington, I took great pains to redirect their impulses. They often arrived filled with preconceived notions and stereotypical story ideas. “Fat Americans” or “Americans with Guns” or “Crazy Cristian Americans” or “Black Americans in Gangs” or “Teenage, Pregnant and Drug Addicted Americans” and the list goes on and on.

Even if all these things are true (yes, they are), it’s not the role of journalists to simply perpetuate stereotypes. It takes time to suss out unique stories, no matter where you are from or where you are working. It takes time to discover the “real people” and “real stories” of any particular country, and takes effort to get off the beaten path.

What if the opposite were true? A foreign reporter working for a short time in Spain might only do stories about bullfighting and Flamenco dancing. I mean how many more times do we need to see this story?


The point is, there is enough fake news out there anyway. Let’s give journalists who come to the US to cover the news for their country at least a fighting chance.



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