Do you know Dan, from Canada?

| Comments (2) | Misc
Earlier today I was listening to an NPR report on the early winter snowstorms in Alberta and Manitoba. Apparently there's been a lot of snow and people are driving off the roads, rolling their cars, etc. Anyway, at the end of the report, what do I hear but "This is Dan Karpenchuk in Toronto." Now, this makes sense until you realize that Alberta is in Western Canada, roughly North of Montana. Even Manitoba is somewhere North of Minnesota. In terms of flight time, Calgary is over an hour closer to San Francisco than Toronto is (2:35 versus 3:40). Winnipeg is closer to Toronto, but it's still over 2 hrs away by air and someting over 2000 km away. There's no good reason to think that someone in Toronto is going to be particularly well informed about events in Calgary or Winnipeg than someone located in San Francisco unless you conveniently forget that Canada is a huge country. (This isn't particularly uncommon for NPR: I'm pretty sure I've heard reports about Northern Africa from their correspondent in Johannesburg).

More generally, it's not entirely clear to me what value NPR's foreign correspondents bring to the party. Generally, they spend 20-30 seconds delivering some report that could just as well have been delivered by someone in the US reading whatever came over AP or Reuters. I suppose it lends an air of authority to the proceedings, but as far as I can tell it's primarily false authority.


Hey, at least it isn't TV news, where, instead of just reading something off of Reuters, they read a light rewrite while irrelevant images flash by, distracting you.

I presume that "Dan from Canada" probably serves the function of selecting news that seems to be important in Canada, and in exchange gets to read his story on the air. He probably also does more real reporting here and there. I agree this isn't much of a function, but if you listen to archives of NPR from back when they had no budget and did exactly what you suggest it sounds a bit strange.

That's true in a lot of cases, but the one NPR correspondent who consistently amazes me is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton (had to look up that spelling!). Her job seems to entail running around the whole of Africa, throwing herself into whatever revolution is going on this week. And it is refreshing to hear a reporter who knows how to pronounce exotic place names correctly.

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