Parachute journalism: the practise of throwing journalists into intense situations where they have no background or expertise, and expecting them to produce a relevant, accurate and engaging story.
In these days of budget slashes, widespread closures, and the switch from paid for dead-tree newspapers to electronic versions, parachute journalism is going to become more prevalent.
I'm bringing up parachute journalism, because it tends to be what happens when budget-strapped Western media outlets try to deliver a story about a complicated development/humanitarian situation to their readers.
And the local paper here in Winnipeg did exactly the opposite of parachute journalism on Wednesday, January 18.
I'd mentioned the Winnipeg Free Press was putting out a special Africa edition entitled Our City, Our World. An entire issue focused entirely on Manitobans in Africa, and to a lesser extent, Africans in Manitoba.
I listed some criteria in my last blog post about what I would look for, as a journalism student interested in development issues, in evaluating the issue.
Overall, I think it's brilliant. The dominant theme underlying the articles was one of strong and dynamic people undergoing challenging circumstances.
One of my favourite articles was about church-sponsored refugees living (and thriving!) in the rural community of Altona. (Altona feels like home, by Bill Redekop)
The food section featured profiles of African restaurants. The sports
section featured things like The Africa Cup of Nations--the third
biggest soccer (football) tournament in the world, after the World Cup
and European Championships.
As traditional newspapers continue to compete with free news sources such as The Huffington Post, my prediction is that traditional media will become a hub for focused, in-depth commentary that is more concerned with getting to the heart of an issue, rather than simply being the first to break a scoop.
And it's exciting to be a journalism student living in a city where the independent daily broadsheet paper is a part of that.