To those journalists who have been there and done it, usually with typewriters when they began, the journalists of today seem a strange breed. They may seem urbane, overeducated and over self-appreciated although in their perception of their selves they may look like the Masters of the New Universe.
So its refreshing to look forward to old Asia and Indonesia hand John McBeth’s book Reporter: Forty Years Covering Asia that will be launched in Indonesia on March 8. John is one of those journalists that tell it like it is, so the book’s bound to be interesting, whether you agree or disagree with him. Unspun’s given a foretaste of what’s to come ( see When men were men, journos were reporters and we all had more hair) but below is an excerpt from John’s book in The Asia Sentinel:
A Veteran Journalist’s View of Today’s World
Written by John McBeth
TUESDAY, 01 MARCH 2011
And it isn’t encouraging
This is an excerpt from Reporter: Forty Years Covering Asia (Talisman Publishers, hardback, 384 pp., S$42) by John McBeth, who among other things spent a quarter-century as
the longest-serving correspondent for the now-defunct Far Eastern Economic Review. McBeth looks with trepidation at how standards have fallen in today’s world of journalism. The book is available in local bookshops.…While this book may necessarily be a memoir, I would like to think it is more a reflection of the lives of a generation of journalists who came to Asia on a wing and a prayer – and in my case by ship – and stayed on as fascinated witnesses to a region going through historic political and economic change. We all have a story to tell. We have also had a lot of great times that will never be repeated.
Most foreign journalists who come to Asia today already work for the wire services or established publications, even if some are a shadow of what they once were. They are often married, sometimes with kids. They have houses, cars, offices and assistants as part of the package. They are here today and gone tomorrow, ticking off another box on their rise up the promotional ladder.
It is that which sets them apart from those of us who have lived the story and made Asia our home. In many cases, it happened more by accident than design. The quarter century I spent on the Far Eastern Economic Review, longer than any other correspondent, only reinforced that process because of the opportunities it presented to plumb the depths of each and every story.