A foreign correspondent is an exotic bird quickly going extinct.
Once upon a time, newspapers had correspondents in many of the world’s news hotspots: Washington and London certainly but also Islamabad and Colombo, Dubai and Dhaka. Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo have all seen an Indian presence at one time or the other.
Stellar bylines like N.J. Nanporia, Frank Moraes, F.J. Khergamvala, S. Nihal Singh were crafted on foreign shores.
To be posted abroad was a badge of honour for a news reporter. To depend on your own man, rather than AP or Reuters, was a matter of pride for a newspaper.
Today, most media outlets have exactly one foreign correspondent.
At the height of India’s border clash with China in 2020, there were just two Indian journalists in Beijing: K.J.M. Varma of PTI and Suthirtho Patranobis of Hindustan Times.
It is as if with more money in the system, there is less of an incentive to have your own eyes and ears. And as if, with the world at her fingertips, the reader desires to know less of the world outside her WhatsApp group.
Among the more durable and standout bylines on the foreign circuit is Amit Roy, the London correspondent of The Telegraph. But Roy is a foreign correspondent twice over.
In this episode of J-POD, Amit Roy retraces his extraordinary journey from Patna to Fleet Street, and discusses working with journalism greats like David English and Aveek Sarkar, and hearing the story of Evelyn Waugh‘s Scoop straight from the mouth of Will Deedes.
What shines through is how much fun British journalism was compared to American journalism, which Amit Roy brings to the pages of The Telegraph not just on matters geo-political but also on less weighty issues that foreign correspondents generally turn their nose on.