Interview: Marc Rosenwasser, Worldfocus

Marc Rosenwasser is the executive producer of Worldfocus, a program that premiered in October with global news and analysis.

Marc Rosenwasser is the executive producer of Worldfocus, a program that premiered in October with global news and analysis. Rosenwasser is a career newsman, who served as executive producer for Tom Brokaw Reports, in addition to senior roles at ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News. Rosenwasser has won 23 Emmy Awards, three Columbia-DuPont Awards, and a Peabody Award for his work.

PRWeek: How did Worldfocus come about?

Marc Rosenwasser: Worldfocus came about because there was a perceived need for more international news. The networks are doing much less than they did in years past. Even the major cable networks are doing less…[One focus is] to give American viewers, an alternative to the BBC, which is a show, that as it is, isn't [directed] specifically to an American television audience.

PRWeek: At a time when other news bureaus are cutting back on their foreign outposts, how does Worldfocus maintain its resources?

Rosenwasser: We have a combination of different news organizations. Our model is that we partner with the different news organizations in the world [and] choose from their offerings each day. [We work with] different organizations with bureaus all over the world. In Asia, we partner with ABC of Australia. In Europe, we partner with Deutsche Welle and ITN of Britain. In South America, we partner with Globo. In Africa, we partner with A24, which is a new consortium of African broadcasters. And, in the Middle East we partner with Channel 10 of Israel, Al Jazeera English, and also with Link TV which is an aggregator of our broadcast content. So, we truly get content offerings everyday from all over the world.

PRWeek: The show's tagline is “diverse voices for a diverse world.” How does the show go about developing its stories?

Rosenwasser: One of the things I always like to emphasize, which I'm most proud about, is that we have an international news team. So, the way our show is composed everyday, we have an associate producer from Taiwan. . .an Arab associate producer, who is out and paired with an Israeli associate producer. We have an associate producer from Turkey…[and one] from Sierra Leone. But, they basically work different beats. And, we also have an associate producer who is of Hispanic origin and another American who is a fluent Russian speaker.

So among these six or seven people, we speak most of the major languages in the world and divide our beat reporting by continent. Our African producer obviously covers Africa for us, and so on and so on. So, we feel like when they're looking through original materials everyday and working their sources - diplomatic sources and other sources - we're able to get pretty good grasp on what's going on around the world each morning. And, they're busy pitching stories from their regions. We make an effort every day to have as diverse guests as we can. And, we feel like that's something we work very hard at and we feel proud to have succeeded on that level.

We also have a regular feature we called Blogwatch, where we hear from different voices from all over the world. So, in the past two days, [following] the Italian earthquake, we have very compelling accounts from the scene from bloggers. We also do a weekly BlogTalkRadio show that's online every week by [Worldfocus anchor] Martin Savidge.

PRWeek: At a time when citizen journalists report from the scene and with the growing number of news sources online, what do you see as the current role of broadcast news?

Rosenwasser: I'll turn the question around. The question to me, ‘Is what role in broadcast does the citizen journalist have?'…The way I'd like to answer that is that I would not equate the two. I think there are much looser rules out there. Online is kind of a Wild West of journalism. I don't think of myself as ancient, but I do think of myself as having old-school standards, which is to say, I think everything that's broadcast should be vetted as carefully as possible. I think that's enormously important, I think that's what distinguishes serious journalism from non-serious journalism is a review process, and a thorough editorial process that goes up to every element on every show. So, I think frankly what is called citizen journalism is not journalism at all; it's a citizen account of something. It's eye-witness testimony or account about something, but I'm not sure that constitutes journalism…The role of journalist as relates to contribution is to critique it, review it, and to check it for authenticity. And, then using hopefully good editorial judgment, hopefully used over years of experience, to decide whether it's worthy of broadcast.

PRWeek: In terms of PR professionals, how do they contribute to the show?

Rosenwasser: Worldfocus so far hasn't used PR people that much. We certainly have had some book ideas and guest ideas from them. We certainly look forward to the opportunity to work with PR folks to identify the best possible guests and topics that might be of interest to our viewers.

PRWeek: Are there any stories that you've been particularly proud of that you'd like to highlight?

Rosenwasser: Without sounding boastful, our signature pieces, which are typically four nights, and five or six minutes per night, are unlike anything else on American television right now. They're deeper, richer, [and] are appealing about life around the world.

We go to places that are completely uncovered, so we've had many pieces done out of Africa. We've an ongoing series called 21st Century Africa, where we've discussed everything from AIDS in South Africa to laptops being delivered in Rwanda to young children to the emerging middle class in Kenya, people living in much better ways than is commonly thought how people in Africa, to the growing Chinese influence in Africa.

We have a series out of Liberia. We're reporting a series from the Baltic countries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, which get virtually no attention and are very interesting stories to tell…We're truly going to many places that unless there's a natural disaster, that I would say, [have close to] no coverage on American television. [And], we hope to bring at least some depth and some insight into the life of those places. We think that's our unique contribution, we hope at least.

Name: Marc Rosenwasser

Title: Executive producer

Outlet: Worldfocus, distributed by American Public Television

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