Volume 95, Issue 81

Thursday, March 7, 2002
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USC and admin in soph bed battle

Ed. students denied class placements

In lieu of cock fighting, nerds turn to robot wars

Budget 2002/2003 -
USC targets $900k debt

USC Budget 2002/2003

Western left in the dark

Syphilis - Napoleon had it, now you can too

Cal-Berkeley sex classes included orgies

Globe's Gray talks journalism

Globe's Gray talks journalism

Jillian Van Acker
Gazette Staff

Travelling abroad, learning the cultural background of another country – just another day in the life of a foreign corespondent.

Yesterday at Middlesex College, John Gray, a former Globe and Mail foreign correspondent, talked about his experiences as a journalist, provided various anecdotes and offered advice to aspiring reporters.

Gray was The Globe and Mail's European correspondent for four years and covered events leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He then held the position of Moscow correspondent for three years and covered the military coup when Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev was imprisoned.

"If you arrive in the middle of a crisis, a strange government won't talk to journalists," Gray said. "You have to have a degree of understanding and you should know background information."

Gray said the best people to talk to are people on the street and added his job is sometimes like putting a puzzle together. "If you can filter what people say into a broader understanding, then that's your story."

Having a good "fixer" is essential, Gray said. A fixer is a guide/translator who will normally arrange for hotel rooms and can discuss the history of a country's politics, he said.

"If you're a foreign correspondent, it is fairly complicated to get people to understand what you see because the events are unknown to the people you're writing for – like the Kansas City milkman," Gray said. "You've got to remember that the Kansas City milkman hasn't got a clue."

"International reporting seems to be a dying breed because of cutbacks at papers," said Jon Terkel, a masters of journalism student.

Terkel added it is possible foreign correspondence might eventually disappear because wire services, such as Canadian Press, have several writers to cover international news.

David Spencer, a media, information and technoculture professor, said he thought the seminar brought international reporting into a working perspective.

"Gray is a good writer – he's a literate writer," Spencer said. "Gray's presentation was extremely honest."

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