A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 03, 2018
“If it’s far away, it’s news. If it’s close at home, it’s sociology”

American journalist James Reston (1909-1995), then Washington bureau chief of the New York (NY) Times, spoke at the 50th anniversary of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1963:

“I think we have to re-think not only our definition of news but the allocation of reporters. We are not covering our own country as well as we should—maybe not even as well as we cover some other countries. Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.”

“If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at/to home, it’s sociology” has been frequently cited.


Wikipedia: James Reston
James Barrett Reston (November 3, 1909 – December 6, 1995), nicknamed “Scotty”, was an American journalist whose career spanned the mid-1930s to the early 1990s. He was associated for many years with The New York Times.

Google Books
4 May 1963, The New Republic, “The Biggest Story in the World” by James Reston, pp. 15-16 (cited at pg. 16):
I think we have to re-think not only our definition of news but the allocation of reporters. We are not covering our own country as well as we should—maybe not even as well as we cover some other countries. Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

9 May 1963, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Tar Heel Talk: Dull Sociology,” sec. A., pg. 8, col. 6:
Scotty Reston has been chastising the press for failing to get behind statistics close at home and analyze change all around us. “We are very good at reporting change when it is violent,” he told the 50th anniversary observance of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. “When the bulldozers start to change property values at home or the guns produce change in Cuba or Vietnam, we are there. But we are very very good about reporting the economic and social conditions in Cuba that produced Castro, and we’re remarkably indifferent to the unemployed in Pittsburgh and the social and economic conditions in Harlan County, Kentucky, and the Appalachian South....Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: If it’s far away it’s news, but if it’s close at home it’s sociology.”

5 December 1963, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), sec. 1, pg. 10, col. 4:
Afghanistanism
James Reston, in an address at a Columbia University academic convention:

I think we have to re-think...our definition of news. ...

We are not covering our own country as well as we should—maybe not even as well as we cover some other countries. Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

Google Books
Journalism:
Readings in the Mass Media

By Allen Kirschner
Odyssey Press
1971
Pg. 225:
We are not covering our own country as well as we should— maybe not even as well as we cover some other countries. Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: if it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

Google Books
And I Quote:
The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker

By Ashton Applewhite, William R. Evans III and Andrew Frothingham
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1992
Pg. 326:
Like officials in Washington, we suffer from Afghanistanism: If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.—James Reston

Twitter
hannah newman
@hnewm5027
A quote that i found: “If it’s far away, it’s news. If it’s close to home, it’s sociology” - James Reston #fresheyes
3:19 PM - 26 Feb 2015

Twitter
Rejean Levesque
@levek
The Frictionary # 739 via The Frictionary - Here is another page taken from The Frictionary: 6926. If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology. (James Reston) 6927. My best birth control now is ... http://tinyurl.com/yddj2fg5
12:35 PM - 10 Jun 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Tuesday, July 03, 2018 • Permalink