‘What will happen to the Baghdad bureau!’ is a cry frequently heard amidst the lamenting of the demise of newspapers. Meaning, once newspapers cease to exist where will the funding come from to support foreign correspondence? Perhaps and equally valid question is who is reading these foreign correspondent’s stories.
An article in the NYT over the weekend looks at how the Internet has widened the audience for American papers to include the locals about whom foreign stories revolve around, while at the same time making promises of anonymity to sources in far flung places less reliable: “the Internet makes it possible, almost everywhere, to see how the world outside sees you, and in real time.” No doubt. But here is perhaps the most interesting part:
According to data teased out of the Google Trends service, the phrases “new york times india” and “washington post india” are searched eight times as much in India, as a proportion of all Indian searches, as the equivalent in the United States. By the same measure, “new york times china” is searched more intensively in Beijing than in New York.
Meaning, among other things there is arguably a much larger readership out there — one that would perhaps pay for content — than maybe we realize when talking about whether NYT subscribership will translate online.