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When In Rome: Tales From a Foreign Correspondent

Why should a news organization have a reporter based full-time in Rome?

According to FNC’s Rome-based correspondent Greg Burke, it’s a no-brainer. ”There are more than a billion Catholics, and you have the Vatican here,” he told TVNewser during this writer’s recent vacation to Italy. “You’re always going to have some news out of the Vatican.”

Not to mention that despite the recent political departure of Italy’s never-dull prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the country “produces good, colorful stories.” For example: the trial of Amanda Knox, and the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner.

Important storylines could originate from Italy this summer as well, considering the shaky state of the eurozone. It’s evidence of what Burke predicts will be a news “comeback” for Rome, which experienced its greatest recent media crush in 2005, when Pope John Paul II passed away. The city, Burke says, “is important for a lot of reasons.”

Italy is a second home to Burke, who’s been there for nearly twenty years – first working for Reuters, then for TIME magazine.  Just a few weeks ago, in fact, he obtained dual U.S.-Italian citizenship. One benefit: near-seamless travel within the European Union.

More, including a video interview with Burke, after the jump.

The travel benefit is important when you’re ”on call” for breaking news across the continent.  Burke also has spent plenty of time in the Middle East.  As a result, he’s covered a broad array of stories, ranging from the 2006 Lebanon War to last year’s Norwegian youth camp shootings.  ”The bar is high” for foreign news to  make air on American broadcasters, he says,  especially in an election year.

Burke enjoys being a foreign correspondent, but says reporting is reporting. ”I’m not someone who has to have a grenade thrown at them to feel like I’m doing my job…I feel fortunate that the stories I’m dealing with are pretty serious, they’re significant and interesting. But I don’t need to [always] go to Fallujah.”

Working thousands of miles away from the Mother Ship back in New York, foreign correspondents report a mix of assigned and enterprise stories, with the journalist responsible for being the network’s eyes and ears abroad. “You rise or fall on your own, to a certain degree.”

If there’s no breaking news, Burke finds plenty of interesting feature stories to report. For example, the “drive-a-Ferrari-story’!” he says with a smile.

The job, Burke says, is satisfying.  “It fits for me. Being in Rome fits for me.”

WATCH a video interview with Burke:

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