Relaunching the Roundup

World Opinion Roundup is evolving.

With the rise of the Internet in the late 1990s, a new global discussion of international news events took shape. The World Opinion Roundup, from its inception in 2001, has sought to leverage an ever-growing online medium to capture different perspectives from throughout the global community for washingtonpost.com readers. Such growth and the advent of blogging have enormously expanded and deepened the discussions surrounding some of the most important issues in the news. It has been a challenge for World Opinion Roundup to keep up.

The inauguration of PostGlobal on washingtonpost.com earlier this year marked a major step toward more comprehensive, in-depth and interactive coverage of these discussions. With the success of PostGlobal, World Opinion Roundup has an opportunity to relaunch with a new and more focused approach, aimed at expanding an informed debate on world news.

As we revamp World Opinion Roundup to better meet our readers' needs, I will take a break from posting in the coming weeks. I welcome comments and suggestions from you about how the column might be improved -- what you think worked best and what should be improved.

I will return in the New Year with a new and improved feature for following, understanding and participating in global news debates.

By washingtonpost.com |  December 8, 2006; 12:38 PM ET
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R. Buckminster Fuller: "If humanity does not opt for integrity, we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go."

Posted by: Reynolds | December 8, 2006 05:46 PM

The Roundup is a great tool for engaging with the global online English-language media. It would be better still if the revamped column could somehow broaden its audience's exposure to non-English-language global media; or at least, assess the fact that the English-language sources are only that, and therefore to some degree designed for our consumption.
Thanks.

Posted by: Fan of the Roundup | December 9, 2006 08:09 AM

The scope of WorldOpinionRoundUp overlaps considerably with the scope of PostGlobal. They effectively compete for the same set of writers -- both professional writers (like reporters and columnists) and common people (like you and me).


Although PostGlobal has higher traffic than WorldOpinionRoundUp, the traffic of the former is due mainly to a small clique of writers. These writers (especially, the Indian writers) often conduct personal attacks, write "facts" that contradict reality, and just ramble about unrelated issues like going to the local baseball game. So, I would not consider PostGlobal a success.


Success means an informed discussion without ad homenim attacks. One thing that the team at WorldOpinionRoundUp could do is to create a moderated blog like that one at "thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com". The idea is not to censor comments like "Indian culture is inferior." Rather, the idea is to censor ad hominen attacks like "Your personality is inferior."


Also, WorldOpinionRoundUp should seek out more Western opinions. By contrast, PostGlobal seeks mostly 3rd-world opinions. PostGlobal's opinion staff consists mostly of reporters and columnists from the 3rd world. We rarely see a writer from, say, "The Economist" or "The Wall Street Journal".


To achieve balance, the opinion staff should reflect the distribution of gross-domestic product (GDP) across the globe. So, for example, 50% of the opinion staff should be American reporters and columnists.


To increase traffic on the blog, the team at WorldOpinionRoundUp should periodically hold an op-ed contest for the common people, i.e. people who are not professional reporters, columnists, etc. The winning op-ed shall be published in the Sunday edition of "The Washington Post".


Currently, the Post ignores the op-eds of common people. If you do not have official credentials, like being a member of a thinktank, then your op-ed about solving the Iraqi quagmire will be ignored by the Post. The Post views the opinions of common people to be worthless.

Posted by: Atheist, Boston, USA | December 10, 2006 07:11 PM

I would agree with most of Atheist's suggestions. The one thing that i might take issue with is the GDP breakdown - the fear is that things might get too US centric if that was implemented and since the title is World Opinion Roundup, it makes sense to perhaps not have 50% US. Otherwise, kudos to him or her for some excellent suggestions and analysis.

Posted by: Dave!, Annandale, US | December 12, 2006 02:31 PM

Atheist does have a point when it comes to personal attacks. Other people may have had different experiences, but my own has been a lot less "spam" (such as what half of the Jimmy Carter section is composed off; inane one line slurs by, quite obviously, the same person) on Post Global than the roundup. I am not sure how you would combat this since the reason behind your "reorganization" seems to be an increase in the scope and audience of the roundup, thereby having even more input to "regulate". I have seen "request removal" links attached to comments on other blogs which might be a solution.

Perhaps giving some of the more regular posters on the roundup the option to receive notice of, and comment on, the "question" or "issue" to be discussed (Like Post Global does) might allow for a more civil and respectful tone to be set from the beginning; though sometimes the main section of Post Global has a really overbearing and dry tone to it, which could be a turnoff for some people.

The roundup has a sort of fun, anyone is welcome to post feel to it, which is something I hope will carry into your redesign. Great job with it so far.

Posted by: Zain | December 13, 2006 08:35 PM

Indeed, make it global (encourage everybody anywhere in the world with whatever political perspective to give their point-of-view). Make sure though that non-Americans are not "reporting" to America so sometimes make the "center" China or Russia or London, etc. and then we in America will be reporting to "them." So you need some co-workers in these countries and rotate the focus.

Posted by: Fred - Bakersfield | December 13, 2006 10:08 PM

Post Global is not a credible forum but rather a place for hand-picked conservative voices with things to say that are generally comforting to America's self-image. World Opinion Roundup has had a much more pluralist, genuinely open approach, with a true variety of opinions expressed. I guess that's threatening to the powers that be at the Washington Post.

Posted by: Sam | December 15, 2006 06:19 AM

A couple of points to improve it: (1)make it truly international. Constantly move the center from country to country thus stopping being the Super (or ugly) American. Be the West-European, the East-European, African, Middle Eastern, Russian, Chinese, etc. In other words go around the world and change focus and bias; (2)Somebody oficial must screen the Blogs. Not doing that is a major weakness. Too many "the same" people" take over, repeating themselves constantly, becoming buddies, etc. and many others just don't have time to break tru that and stop participating; (3)change the subject matter more frequently to stay ahead of the issues, rather than beeing too late. Also change course in mid-stream if something big comes up; (4)reduce the many references to NewsPapers etc. We don't have time to read it all anyhow. Summarize the issue and allow us to form an independent "gut-feeling" opinion; (5)Once in-a-while management should present their perspective and opinion (kind of the "yellow" line on both side of the road, so we stay on course. (6)That should be it. Once more, the key point is to integrated opinions from all over the world without being the ugly American. Be non-national. Be global, which is difficult.

Posted by: Anagadir | December 15, 2006 02:29 PM

America doesn't account for 50% of the world's GDP, but 20%. Arguing that half of the articles discussed on WOR should be American seems baffling to me, since the rest of the Post is already written by nearly 100% American journalists, and the whole purpose of WOR is to discuss world opinion.

That's quite apart from the fact that Atheist seems to weigh the importance of people's opinion based on their wealth. If that's so, why not do away with one-man-one-vote and reintroduce the property qualification?

The best things about World Opinion Roundup? 1: It allows punctuation and quotation marks, unlike the rest of the WaPo site. 2: It does allow people to see foreign opinion, which is after all its basic purpose. 3: Morley has the cojones to occasionally descend to the comments section and debate or at least address the readers. I rather admire that.

Posted by: OD | December 15, 2006 02:37 PM

America doesn't account for 50% of the world's GDP, but 20%. Arguing that half of the articles discussed on WOR should be American seems baffling to me, since the rest of the Post is already written by nearly 100% American journalists, and the whole purpose of WOR is to discuss world opinion.

That's quite apart from the fact that Atheist seems to weigh the importance of people's opinion based on their wealth. If that's so, why not do away with one-man-one-vote and reintroduce the property qualification? By this measure, public opinion in Monaco matters more than public opinion in Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

The best things about World Opinion Roundup? 1: It allows punctuation and quotation marks, unlike the rest of the WaPo site. 2: It does allow people to see foreign opinion, which is after all its basic purpose. 3: Morley is brave enough to occasionally descend to the comments section and debate or at least address the readers. I rather admire that.

Posted by: OD | December 15, 2006 02:40 PM

I erred. The GDP of the USA is only 20% of the total GDP of the world. However, the GDP of the West is about 55% of the world's GDP.


https://cia.gov/cia//publications/factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html


So, 20% of the official opinion staff of the revamped World Opinion Roundup should be professional reporters and columnists from the USA. 55% should be professional reporters and columnists from the West.


Using wealth to determine the nationality composition of the opinion staff is appropriate. Wealth determines the influence that a nation exerts on the world. Most people interested in reading only the opinions of people who, more or less, represent the movers and shakers that have the most impact on the world.

Posted by: Atheist, Boston, USA | December 16, 2006 07:59 PM

I erred. The GDP of the USA is only 20% of the total GDP of the world. However, the GDP of the West is about 55% of the world's GDP.


https://cia.gov/cia//publications/factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html


So, 20% of the official opinion staff of the revamped World Opinion Roundup should be professional reporters and columnists from the USA. 55% should be professional reporters and columnists from the West.


Using wealth to determine the nationality composition of the opinion staff is appropriate. Wealth determines the influence that a nation exerts on the world. Most people are very interested in reading only the opinions of people who, more or less, represent the movers and shakers that have the most impact on the world.

Posted by: Atheist, Boston, USA | December 16, 2006 08:00 PM

Jefferson, (and Atheist),

What is the total GDP of the Middle East?
perhaps we ought not worry about how much they are producing in total goods and services and rather, concern ourselves with the very real fact that 19 absolute nobodys forced the US ( and our fellow westerners) to commit a very large portion of our GDP towards staving off similar attacks in the future. Homeland Security? the war on terror? the war in Afgahnistan and Iraq? Reductions in civil liberties in the country that is supposed to lead the world in the protection of civil liberties?

It would seem to me that listening to and and learning about the opinions of people who believe that WE have led them to the point of having nothing left to lose might be a great deal more important than listening ad nauseum to the very voices that may have inspired that chain of events.

Perhaps it should also be of even greater concern that when the ISG, a bipartisan group of people who are largley removed from the active political process (ie the pressures of special interest groups), talks about the the middle east, they come to the conclusion that the war in Iraq and in fact the war on terror can only be fixed (amoung other things) by solving the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

The response from those in power on both sides of the aisle? Nothing. They remain, as always, silent.

Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean went out of their way to say that Jimmy Carters book does not represent the views of the democratic party. However, they did not in any way define what the stance of the democratic party WAS regarding the settlements and the damage they have caused. They remain, as always, silent.

IE, Our government and a great many US news sources remain stanglely mum on the subject that the ISG, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, a whole host of other very qualified (and currently politically inactive) analysts, and virtually the rest of the world (as judged by their votes at the UN and the opinions of their leaders )have said to be central to the war on terror.

Something is really broken with our system both in the Governemt and the press.

It seems very clear to me that regardless of what else the WOR does, it should remain a place that inspires and allows a free and uninhibted discussion from voices all over the world of the Middle East, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and it's impact on the rest of the world.

Given the changes that have been visted upon the US and the west as the result of 9/11, I don's see many other more worthy subjects than that.

J

Posted by: J | December 18, 2006 12:48 PM

Jefferson,

Why not invite guest commentators (such as various government officials, from the US EU, Middle east, China, ect.) to speak about various issues and then respond to readers questions?

You could pose questions based on current stories covered in WOR, and then let the readers take a shot at debating those answers or even allow for a short Q and A with the guest.

The fact that a qualified guest leads the debate off will help give direction and focus, and you could enforce stricter guidelines regarding behavior in the responses of the readers so as to engender a more respectful debate.

That is not to say that I don't think that the current format of reviewing world news stories is not important and effective. This idea may just help to flesh that format out a bit if used in tandem with it.

J

Posted by: J | December 18, 2006 02:50 PM

THE DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER OF CONGRESS IS ALL PART OF THE CFR'S PLANS.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), America's real government, pushed as far to

the right as they could. For the time being. Now they have to tweak things a little to

the left for a while.

Of course, they always take two steps forward and only one step back, so dictatorship

is always creeping ever closer.

If the democrats were authentic opposition, they would repeal the anti-PATRIOT Acts,

they'd outlaw domestic spying and torture, and they'd bring back warranted searches

and fair trials.

THEY WON'T.

As per usual, most of the newly elected Democrats are members of the CFR. So nothing

has really changed.

The Jewish Lobby and their front organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, are

the real sources of America's current problems. They both must be exiled from

American soil.

http://shillsforthetalmudians.blogspot.com/

You can also contact the original conservatives (the real conservatives) at The John

Birch Society at jbs.org.

Posted by: THE GAUGE | December 18, 2006 08:01 PM

I appreciate the Roundup because it peels open the woodwork and lets the skanks run free.

Posted by: Nestor | December 19, 2006 08:12 AM

Somewhere above I mentioned to rotate the national focus from one country to the next rather than having everybody writing to the US Coordinator. On TV, like CNN, FOX, or BBC, etc., such a national focus is never achieved primarily because of foreign language accent problems when speaking English - so we're always listening to American NewsCasters and Politicians with profound opinions about say issues between Jordan and Saudi-Arabia or Russia-Poland or whatever. In writing though, this shouldn't be a problem so bring in regional perspectives straight from the soul.

Posted by: Fred - Bakersfield | December 19, 2006 02:47 PM

Good idea for World Opinion Roundup to redefine itself and become more global. First piece of advise: don't mention or compare yourself with PostGlobal! The moment any new creation compares itself with something else it is a loser. Do you really think that Rembrandt or Einstein or Mozart ever thought "how can I be different from the other guy?" Of course not. Be unique. For starters, start with this Iraq thing and get unbiased and unfiltered opinions from local writers, both in Iraq and surrounding countries. Yes, go ahead and include Israel. Make sure that America or Wash. DC are not, repeat, not the "Ground Zero" for ideas then. Figure it out. Be creative.

Posted by: Anagadir | December 20, 2006 06:46 PM

Rather than always quoting the famous people quote the unknown. Especially with TIME selecting "YOU" as the "Person of the Year" and Carl Jung's collective subconscious we should focus on what is slowely but surely finding its way to the surface. This is especially relevant for international issues like what is happening in Iraq, Israel bullying its neighbours, what is going on in China, etc.

Posted by: Chuck - DC | December 27, 2006 07:21 AM

Maybe World Opinion Roundup should be renamed World Political Roundup or more simply, World Politics. My first observation is that WOR has sometimes had topics that were not worldly or having much to do with things outside the US. The second is that almost always the topics and discussions have been political in nature, discussing the Israeli/Lebanon/Hez conflicts, etc. They may be topics of wars or policies but in the end they are political discussions.

I also agree that comparing WOR with PostGlobal is a poor comparison. Little in PostGlobal gets my blood up since I don't see much in the way of politics. I mean, look at today's topic: "What is your favorite proverb or saying from where you live that you would want to share with the world?" My God, who cares? What a mamsy-pamsy blog PostGlobal is. Now discussing how to solve the Iraq war or terrorism or discussing with the world how America handled the aftermath of Katrina or why Hezbollah is still armed to the teeth after UN resolutions calling for disarmament, now that's substancial stuff! Though we may be blowing a lot of steam on this blog it seems we are trying to solve the worlds problems and tit-for-tats between westerners and middle easterners are always a treat to read and even educational, hopefully for both sides. Yea, World Political Roundup would be a nice name and a nice focus that does not change the blog too much but rather focuses it more on what it has done best.

Posted by: Sully | December 29, 2006 11:04 AM

So after tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of deaths caused by your pig-headed adventure in Iraq, this -- the execution of Saddam Hussein -- is your crowning moment. What a sham. What a disgrace. All this does is reinforce your image the world over as a thuggish, brutal nation that holds the rule of law in complete contempt. America: enemy of international law. America: the bully that invades other countries despite overwhelming evidence and ample warnings. America: the brute that favors vengeance over justice. Your government's decision to hold an illegal trial for this despot in a kangaroo court -- instead of a legitimate international court -- makes me sick and reinforces my belief that the U.S. is an outlaw state and an enemy of humanity.

Posted by: Sergio | December 31, 2006 04:04 AM

On NewYorkTimes Blogs the dead of Saddam Hussein had more than 2000 reactions and was then closed for further messages. President Ford's dead had only 3 (yes, 3). Obviously for the USA to be part of that will hount us for a long time. Thank you Mr. Bush, you will make the GodFather stories sound like a 7pm "sleep-well" for little kids.

Posted by: Rudolph, Newark | January 1, 2007 08:22 AM

@I left out some text above. Here is the correction:

On NewYorkTimes Blogs the dead of Saddam Hussein had more than 2000 reactions and was then closed for further messages. President Ford's dead had only 3 (yes, 3). ALSO, THE USA VERY MUCH WAS INVOLVED IN THE HANGING OF SADDAM BY TURNING HIM IN TO THE IRAQIES - YOU CAN'T GIVE A HUNGRY DOG FOOD AND EXPECT IT NOT TO EAT. Obviously for the USA to be part of that will hount us for a long time. Thank you Mr. Bush, you will make the GodFather stories sound like a 7pm "sleep-well" for little kids.


Posted by: Rudolph, Newark | January 1, 2007 08:52 PM

Something fishie here about this program. Haven't heard a thing from Morley for a long time. Before that he suddenly had to quit for family emergency. WashintonPost just flush this one.

Posted by: NeverMind | January 4, 2007 10:45 AM

Something fishie here about this program. Haven't heard a thing from Morley for a long time. Before that he suddenly had to quit for family emergency. WashintonPost just flush this one.

Posted by: NeverMind | January 4, 2007 10:46 AM

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