Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Confessions of an Irish Foreign Correspondent

Irish Times opinion editor Paddy Smyth writes of his experiences as a foreign correspondant for the paper in the current issue of the Irish Jesuit magazine Studies.

In describing his time writing for the IT from Washington, he draws a parallel that has often occurred to me:
And, true, the stories that conformed to type tended to be easier to write and to sell back home, although the real joy of reporting comes from confounding expectations. Let us take Bush as an example. Let us take Bush as an example. Perceptions of the man were particularly difficult to shake: the bumbling Texas fool, who could barely string a sentence together, was the standard villain of Dublin chat shows, but any amount of money does not elect a fool. A brief reminder of our own linguistically challenged Taoiseach, “the most cunning of them all”, should be sufficient to disabuse such notions. Bush has many of the same characteristics of innate canniness, a man-of-the-people demeanour, and a charm that disarms. But would they believe me?
Not, it seems, his own editors.