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The Financial Times Has Nine Times the Quality of U.S. Newspapers

So says John Judis. He does, however, tell one thing that I think is a lie: that the New York Times and the Washington Post "have their strengths in foreign news." In my opinion, the two of them together don't have "strengths." Rather, they collectively have one strength: Anthony Shadeed. Otherwise--well, what's new to me in them has a less than 50-50 chance of being true, and what's true in them has a less than 50-50 chance of being news to me.

But the rest of it is good.

John Judis:

Obama In Seoul: My Problem With Foreign News: [T]his morning... I tried to read the stories about Barack Obama’s visit to Seoul, South Korea... the Washington Post, The New York Times (on-line), and The Financial Times. They each have their strengths in foreign news, but I prefer The Financial Times. And this morning was a good illustration why....

Both the Post and the Times focus not on South Korea per se, but on Obama’s taking a “stern tone” toward North Korea in his discussions with the South Koreans.  The Post suggests that the two sides have agreed to a “new approach,” which will reject “endless, inconclusive disarmament negotiations” with the North. OK, pardon me if I yawn. Haven’t I read this story about forty-two times since 1995 or so? Having read the two stories I came away with exactly nothing....

[T]he Financial Times... Christian Oliver and Edward Luce... about one-third the size of the other pieces. The headline reads, “Seoul trades on better ties with Beijing than Washington.” Hmm. That’s interesting.... Now here are the opening paragraphs:

When George Bush senior visited Seoul as US president 20 years ago, things were simple – the US was the undisputed main ally and trade partner. Astonishingly, there was only one weekly flight from South Korea to China, the communist foe. Barack Obama on Wednesday visits a South Korea where the US is no longer the only show in town. China is now the main trade partner, with 642 flights each week. While the US is still the chief political ally, Mr. Obama’s cheery soundbites on Korean issues are not convincing Seoul that Washington is dedicating enough thought to the peninsula.

One flight versus 642 flights – that’s a small detail that tells a large story about South Korea and China. And what of the rest of the story? In the other newspapers, I learned that the U.S. is going to “satisfy” the demand of the North to send a “high-level” envoy by dispatching Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang. But in the Financial Times, I learn that China is sending its premier Wen Jiabao and that diplomats in Seoul are not convinced that Bosworth, “a part-time diplomat, keeping a university teaching job in the US,” is the “right man for the job.” Hmm. Interesting. There’s more, too, about Obama making trade promises to South Korea that Congress is unlikely to let him keep. All in all, you get in one-third the length three times more interesting information than in the Times and Post articles, and it’s epitomized in the lead paragraphs comparing the number of flights that now run weekly between China and South Korea.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?