The Foreign Chronicle

The Foreign Chronicle

This is my last column as a US correspondent. And first of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have listened. You who appreciated what I did, and you who have had views.

Two and a half years ago, when I was in Flint, Michigan, I met Ariana Hawk, a single mother whose children had been poisoned by the drinking water. The water scandal in Flint, which among other things exposed thousands of children to dangerous levels of lead, was not news when I was there, but for me it was important to follow up and tell about what had happened even after the media spotlight was directed in another direction .

One of the goals for me during my years in the United States has been trying to go beyond that the prevailing description of an event or a news item. That mighty furrow that is so clearly seen in the United States, where journalists flock to report on the same thing from the same angle. That furrow is deep and difficult to get outside, and when you do, you are often met with resistance. It does not matter which direction you choose to go, all directions inevitably lead to criticism.

I do not think I have succeeded in all respects to be the rebel that I think journalists should be, but when I feel most satisfied with something I have done, it is not because I have been the fastest to say what everyone else says (which by the way seems to be one of the most important measures of good journalism these days), no, I feel most satisfied when I manage to highlight what others have not wanted or had time to see.

When I reported that there was no evidence that the infamous mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando was a hate crime, I received several emails from people who thought I was mitigating the perpetrator’s act.

When I wrote a chronicle about the craze that exists in the United States for the slave-owning men who wrote the Constitution, several self-proclaimed American experts rushed to their defense – this document, and its author would not be problematized.

Or when I repeatedly reported that there is no evidence that Trump ever conspired with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election: That Trump is guilty is obviously something that is obvious, many pointed out, even in the absence of evidence.

One problem with the times we live in is that it seems to be harder and harder for us to draw conclusions that do not agree with our preconceived notions. This is a development that I believe contributes to the polarization not only in the US, but also at home in Sweden.

Many people choose an opinion and then tries to find evidence of it. I prefer a world where you first find evidence – as far as possible – and then base your opinion.

Going outside the deep furrow and daring to dig your own path, regardless of opinion, may sound obvious, but it is starting to become too rare.

And parts of the population of Flint still do not know if their tap water is safe to drink.

Fernando Arias, New York
[email protected]





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