Janesville43.2°

Foreign journalists focus on Janesville

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
November 26, 2008
— Janesville doesn’t make international news very often.

But the impending end of SUV production here, throwing hundreds out of work, has caught the attention of news organizations from Europe, the Far East and the Middle East.


Freelance journalist Keiko Tsuyama is in Janesville this week, talking to GM workers and others.


Tsuyama writes for Aera, a 250,000-circulation news magazine she compared to Newsweek. She was traveling with a Dutch journalist who spent two days in town, also speaking to GM workers.


Those two weren’t the only ones looking at Janesville.


Swedish national TV recently interviewed Bob Borremans, executive director of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, about the GM situation.


Borremans said he turned down a request from Al Jazeera English, the TV news channel headquartered in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar.


“I didn’t think Al Jazeera was somebody we necessarily wanted to be interviewed by and broadcast over there,” Borremans said.


Borremans said he has since heard that Al Jazeera has a good reputation and wonders if he should have done the interview.


“We’re apparently a worldwide story,” Borremans said.


What’s so exciting about Janesville? Tsuyama said she was looking for a town affected by unemployment to tell the story of the United States’ economic downturn.


The Swedes seemed interested in the fate of a small town that was home to an auto plant for nearly 100 years, Borremans said.


The Swedes might be able to empathize. They also are suffering a crisis in their auto industry, Borremans noted.


The auto industry is always of keen interest to the Japanese, who are worldwide auto producers themselves, Tsuyama noted.


The national media also have shown interest, and the General Motors plant management has fielded numerous requests for interviews, foreign and domestic, Borremans said.


GM is planning a “media day” on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in order to respond to the requests.


Tsuyama said she had a personal reason for choosing Janesville: She had never been to Wisconsin before. She said she likes it here and was glad she came.



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