Speaking the Language
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Thanks for all the comments on the blog so far. It's great to see the interest. Keep them coming.
A few readers raised the question about why we send reporters to places where they don't speak the language. The Post certainly prefers it when reporters speak the language of the place they're covering and many of our foreign correspondents are truly gifted linguists. The paper makes a commitment to training in many cases. When I went to the Post's Moscow Bureau for four years, the paper paid for a year to study Russian full-time.
But we covered 15 nations out of the Moscow Bureau and it's just not realistic to expect that a correspondent will also be able to speak Ukrainian, Uzbek, Armenian and so on. And as one of the readers pointed out, White House reporters follow the president all around the world. Is it practical to learn how to speak Portuguese for a one-day visit to Brazil? What about his trip to Asia a while back? Can one reporter learn Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian just for a one-week trip?
That doesn't mean that we don't cover these trips from the point of view of the people on the ground, however. What we do is team up our traveling White House reporter with foreign correspondents in the places on a presidential itinerary. In this case, we have a fabulous team of Latin American correspondents providing coverage of the trip, all of them Spanish-speakers -- Monte Reel in Buenos Aires, Juan Forero in Bogota (his hometown), and Manuel Roig-Franzia in Mexico. Make sure to watch for their reports.
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