Monday, November 11, 2013

Bloggers (Sometimes) Have More Insights Than Journalists: Case In Point

I haven't been a good blogger about my Hong Kong experience. I wrote far more insightful and poignant posts ages before I ever moved here.

So my point today might seem hypocritical but I'm gonna make it.

Insight needs to be just that: Something that the writer can provide -- an angle, a hook -- that few others can.

That said, this AFP post about Asia so infuriated me that I felt compelled to write something.

Read the article. It won't take you long.

Here's what I learned: the author felt an adrenaline rush as he covered the 2011 tsunami in Japan. He paused to remember that people were dying and he had a friend in Japan. And, oh yeah, Asia has Formula One racing now!

Really? That's it? I could have written something more insightful and I've never been to Japan.

What about life in Hong Kong? What about what life is like as an editor in Hong Kong? What about what makes life in Hong Kong different than in Japan? What about how those big stories impacted the populations in this part of the world? What was the guy on the street -- to use a cliched device -- saying and feeling during those big, big stories?

At no point in that article did the AFP writer express an insight that could not have been learned in NYC or Chicago. The very experience he describes -- his big 5 overtime hours at the desk on the day of the tsunami -- could have happened to any newspaper guy or gal at the international desk in the Big Apple, or Washington, D.C., or London.

(And I may sound sarcastic but when I was there, most people at Jane's worked a lot longer than 5 extra hours on big news days.)

I'm not going to pretend to have any great insights into Asia. It's too early. I've only been here for about two years and the experience has been stranger, sadder, funnier, and more complex than anything I can write right now.

When I say my "Farewell to Asia", I'll have more to say than this guy.

And I don't even work for a big name like AFP.

If this place doesn't change you in some profound way, you were already dead inside when you got off the plane on this side of the world.

And if you weren't dead inside then, then after two years here you very well might feel something withering inside, like some root of a great tree that showed the effects of a rot inside the seed.