Imagine your boss walks into your office and asks what you know about Edward Snowden. Chances are you would give a simple explanation of how Snowden released classified information from the NSA. However, you probably wouldn’t be able to identify how global relations between countries like Australia and Indonesia have weakened since the leak of the information. Americans are great at identifying issues that affect us, but lack knowledge about foreign affairs and how our actions in the US affect other countries.
For aspiring journalists, a laundry list of skills exists that your professor and future employers will expect you to have perfected. Knowledge and understanding of AP style, proper interviewing etiquette, and reliable reporting are a few among a list. However, one area of knowledge is grazed over in education, yet is one of the more integral pieces of being an effective journalist: global knowledge.
According to the “World Savvy: 2012 Global Competency Survey” , Americans are not being taught even the most basic of global facts. Questions like “What region of the world Afghanistan is located in” were answered incorrectly by 77% of high school graduates. Although those surveyed lacked in knowledge, 60% acknowledged that “they would be better employees if they had a stronger understanding of different world cultures”. Simply stated, world knowledge is important when it comes to careers, but we aren’t being spoon fed the information we need.
For aspiring journalists, understanding the big picture is especially important. Reporting news not only requires you to write a story, it requires you to understand the historical, social, political, and cultural contexts in which events occur – which includes the rest of the world. I urge those of you that are looking to report the news to make global news a staple of your daily news consumption. Step away from the sensationalist American media outlets like FOX or MSNBC and look to more global news sources like Al Jazeera or BBC to broaden your horizons on how the US fits into the global puzzle, and make yourself an even more impressive candidate to an employer in your future.