Foreign News on Television

Where in the World Is the Global Village?

by Akiba Cohen (Volume editor)
©2013 Textbook XXII, 391 Pages


Spanning several years of research, this book compares and contrasts how public and commercial TV stations present foreign, domestic, and hybrid news from a number of different countries. It examines what viewers of television news think about foreign news, their interest in it, and what sense they make of it. The book also assesses what the gatekeepers of foreign news – journalists, producers, and editors – think about what they produce, and about their viewers.
This book shows that while globalization is a dominant force in society, and though news can be instantaneously broadcast internationally, there is relatively little commonality throughout the world in the depiction of events occurring in other countries. Thus, contrary to McLuhan’s famous but untested notion of the «global village», television news in the countries discussed in this book actually presents more variability than similarity.
The research gathered here is based on a quantitative content analysis of over 17,000 news items and analysis of over 10,000 survey respondents. Seventeen countries are included in this research, offering a rich comparative perspective on the topic.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editor
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Part 1 The Project
  • 1 Rationale, Design, and Methodologies Akiba A. Cohen, Thomas Hanitzsch, Agnieszka Stepinska, William Porath, & Christine Heimprecht
  • Studying Foreign News in a Comparative Perspective
  • Conceptualizing Foreign News
  • The General Design of the Project
  • Content Analysis
  • Audience Surveys
  • Interviews with Gatekeepers of Foreign News
  • Methodological Concerns and Caveats
  • Selection of Countries
  • Functional Equivalence
  • 2 The Prevalence of News: Domestic, Foreign, and Hybrid Agnieszka Stepinska, William Porath, Constanza Mujica, Xiaoge Xu, & Akiba A. Cohen
  • Determinants of Domestic and Foreign News Selection
  • Predominant Type of News
  • Duration of News Items
  • Placement in Line-Up
  • News Distribution: Similarities and Differences
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Note
  • Part 2 Contents
  • 3 Topics in Foreign and Domestic Television News Knut De Swert, Antonio Belo, Rasha Kamhawi, Ven-hwei Lo, Constanza Mujica, & William Porath
  • Overview of Topics in Television News
  • Topics in Domestic News versus Foreign News
  • Correlations between Topics According to Nature of the News Event
  • Top 25 Individual Topics
  • Hard, Soft, and Sensational News
  • Entropy and Topic Diversity
  • Conclusion
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • 4 Countries of Location and Countries Involved Jurgen Wilke, Christine Heimprecht, & Youichi Ito
  • Number of Countries of Location
  • Continental Regions
  • The Most-Covered Countries
  • Countries Involved
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • 5 Actors in Foreign News Antonio Belo, Elizabeth Godo, Knut De Swert, & Andre Sendin
  • Actors in the News
  • The Method for Analyzing Actors
  • Findings
  • Frequency of Actors
  • Format and Language of Presentation of Actors
  • Status and Roles of Actors
  • Gender
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • 6 Formal Features and Sources in Foreign News Jurgen Wilke & Christine Heimprecht
  • Newscasts and News: Length and Duration
  • Formal Features: Overall Distribution
  • Manner of Presentation
  • News Anchors
  • Headlines
  • Block Presentation
  • Reporters in the Newscasts
  • Sources and Materials
  • Modes and Tools
  • Printed Text
  • Tables and Charts
  • Still Photos
  • Pictorial or Graphic Representation
  • Animation
  • Geographical Maps
  • Flags and Emblems
  • Logos
  • Background Music
  • Slow Motion
  • Other Features
  • Domestic and Foreign News
  • Types of Newscasts
  • Summary
  • 7 Foreign News on Public and Commercial Stations Joseph M. Chan & Francis L.F. Lee
  • Public vs. Commercial Television: Differentiation or Convergence?
  • Sensationalism, Analytical Depth, and Cosmopolitanism in Foreign News
  • Some Notes on Method and Data
  • Analysis and Findings
  • Sensationalism
  • Analytical Depth
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Summary of Public-Commercial Differentials
  • Media Characteristics and Public-Commercial Differentials
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • Part 3 Viewers
  • 8 Who Uses News, How Much, and why?
  • Exposure to News
  • Reasons for Watching News
  • Reasons for Not Watching Foreign News
  • Predictors of Foreign News Exposure
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • 9 Interest in Foreign News Thomas Hanitzsch, Abby Goodrum, Thorsten Quandt, & Thilo von Pape
  • Interest in Foreign News
  • Interest in Foreign vs. Interest in Domestic News
  • Explaining Interest in Foreign News
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • Note
  • 10 Countries of Interest Thilo von Pape, Thorsten Quandt, Thomas Hanitzsch, & Jacques Alkalai Wainberg
  • Amount and Diversity of Overall Country Interest
  • Structure of the Interest in the Sample Countries
  • Overall Interest in Specific Countries
  • Specific Interest in Countries in the Various Sample Nations
  • Visualization of Interest in Countries
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • Notes
  • Part 4 Gatekeepers
  • 11 Gatekeepers on Decision-Making in Foreign News Constanza Mujica & Thomas Hanitzsch
  • Gatekeepers, Newsworthiness, and Foreign News
  • Deviance and social significance of the events
  • Prominence of the country of origin within a geopolitical hierarchy of nations
  • Cultural affinity
  • Gatekeepers and Their Attitudes toward Foreign News
  • Methodology and Limitations
  • Newsroom as Context
  • Newsworthiness
  • Significance
  • Ratings/Audience interest
  • Proximity
  • Images and emotion
  • Domestication and Contextualization
  • Domestication
  • Contextualization
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Note
  • 12 Self-Reflexivity of Gatekeepers on Content and Viewers of Foreign News Lars Willnat & Akiba A. Cohen
  • Theoretical Approach
  • Journalists and Their Audiences
  • How TV Journalists Think about Foreign News and Their Audiences
  • Gatekeepers on Content of Foreign News
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Poland
  • Israel
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • China
  • Portugal
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Summary of Gatekeepers’ Views of Foreign News
  • Gatekeepers on Their Viewers
  • Canada
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Chile
  • Israel
  • Taiwan
  • Brazil
  • Summary of Gatekeepers’ Views of Foreign News Audiences
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • Part 5 Tying the Knots
  • 13 Linking Content and Audiences: Topics in the News Knut De Swert & Akiba A. Cohen
  • Methods and Data
  • Comparing Topics in News Content and Audience Interests
  • Individual-Level Predictors of Audience Interest in Foreign News Topics
  • Conclusions
  • Summary
  • 14 Linking Content and Audiences: Countries of Interest Francis Lee, Jurgen Wilke, & Akiba A. Cohen
  • Comparing Content and Audience Interests
  • Explaining between-Countries Variations in Content-Audience Correspondence
  • Concentration of News Coverage and Concentration of Audience Interests
  • Individual-Level Predictors of Audience Interests in Foreign Countries
  • Conclusion
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • 15 Overall Conclusions for Individual Countries All Project Participants
  • Belgium (Kunt De Swert & Ruud Wouters)
  • Brazil (Jacques Alkalai Wainberg)
  • Canada (Abby Goodrum & Elizabeth Godo)
  • Chile (William Porath & Constanza Mujica)
  • China (Joseph Chan & Baohua Zhou)
  • Egypt (Rasha Kamhawi)
  • Germany (Jürgen Wilke, Thorsten Quandt, Thilo von Pape, & Christine Heimprect)
  • Hong Kong (Francis Lee)
  • Israel (Akiba A. Cohen)
  • Italy (Paolo Mancini & Marco Mazzoni)
  • Japan (Youichi Ito)
  • Poland (Agnieszka Stępińska)
  • Portugal (António Belo & André Sendin)
  • Singapore (Xiaoge Xu)
  • Switzerland (Thomas Hanitzsch & Hong Nga (Angie) Nguyen Vu)
  • Taiwan (Ven-hwei Lo & Tai-Li Wang)
  • United States (Lars Willnat & David H. Weaver)
  • 16 Where in the World Is the Global Village? Akiba A. Cohen
  • Variability of Content
  • Variability among Audiences
  • The Position of Gatekeepers
  • Linking Content and Viewers
  • Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and the Global Village
  • Notes
  • Methodological Appendixes
  • References
  • Participants in the Project
  • Index


Table 10.1Mean number of countries mentioned per respondent and Country Concentration Index per sample country

Table 10.2Interest in countries across the entire sample in percent

Table 10.3Interest in continents across the entire sample in percent

Table 10.4Ranked order of each sample country’s mentioned countries of interest among the 30 most-mentioned countries overall

Table 10.5Spearman rank correlations of countries of interest among all sample countries

Table 13.1Rankings of domestic news topics and audience interest by country

Table 13.2Rankings of foreign news topics and audience interest by country

Table 13.3Percentage of high audience interest in most prevalent topic category of foreign news by country

Table 13.4Comparison of foreign relations within foreign news content and audience interest by country

Table 13.5Logistic regression for correspondence between the most prominent topic in the news content and respondents’ evaluation of their interest in the topic

Table 13.6Summary of significant variables in the logistic regression analyses by country

Table 14.1Top 15 countries in foreign news and mentioned in surveys

Table 14.2Summary of content-audience correspondence in countries of interest

Table 14.3Content-survey correspondence as measured by Spearman rank correlations

Table 14.4Predictors of country-level content-audience correspondence

Table 14.5Content-survey correspondence in country concentration

Table 14.6Regression on number of most prominent and less prominent countries mentioned (U.S. data)

Table 14.7Summary of regression analysis on number of most prominently covered countries mentioned

Table 14.8Summary of regression analysis on number of not prominently covered countries mentioned ← xi | xii →


Figure 10.1Distribution of the countries’ interest in the overall sample

Figure 10.2Top 20 countries of interest for the across-all-sample countries

Figure 10.3Top 20 countries of interest in the Portuguese sample

Figure 10.4Top 20 countries of interest in the U.S. sample

Figure 13.1Graphic display of Chinese data: percentages of coverage and mean interest scores

Figure 14.1Relationship between concentration in news coverage and concentration in audience interest ← xii | xiii →


This project could not have been possible without the collaboration and cooperation of 30 participating scholars in 17 countries. Most of the participants contributed directly in the preparation of this book. Some, however, for a variety of reasons, were not involved in the writing process. As director of the project, I wish to acknowledge them at the top and their brief biographical statements appear with the others at the end of the volume: Paolo Mancini and Marco Mazzoni of the University of Perugia, who constituted the Italian team; Tai-Li Wang from National Taiwan University who worked together with Ven-hwei Lo while he was based in Taiwan; Wan-Ying Lin from the City University of Hong Kong who worked with Francis Lee; Baohua Zhou from Fudan University in China who collaborated with Joseph Chan; Ruud Wouters of the University of Antwerp in Belgium who worked with Knut De Swert; and last but not least, Hong Nga Nguyen Vu—better known to us as Angie—who while at the University of Zurich, was instrumental in organizing the data sets of the content analyses and the surveys.

In addition, the participating scholars in each of the countries wish to thank certain organizations and individuals for their help in making this study possible.


Knut De Swert and Ruud Wouters wish to thank Stefaan Walgrave of the University of Antwerp for funding and providing resources for the project. Also, Marc Hooghe and his team at the Electronic News Archive Flanders for the use of their infrastructure and experience: Volkan Uce, Daniëlle Sadicaris, Anne Hardy and Julie De Smedt.


Jacques Wainberg Alkalai wishes to thank his university, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, as well as the the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (the Brazilian Council for Development, Science and Technology) for making the Brazilian segment of the project possible. ← xiii | xiv →


The Canadian team of Abby Goodrum and Elizabeth Godo wish to thank Richard Pope, Alex Hayter, Kathleen Chiappetta, and Ronak Ghorbani for their research support.


William Porath and Constanza Mujica wish to thank FONDECYT—Chile’s National Scientific and Technological Fund (Project Number 1080047)—for funding the Chilean part of the project. Institutional support was also provided by the Faculty of Communications of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. They wish to recognize the support of their colleagues in the Faculty of Communications, especially Soledad Puente, who introduced us to the project. Finally, they thank Francisco Maldonado, their research assistant, and their student coders of the content analysis.


Baohua Zhou and Joseph M. Chan of the Chinese team thanks Miss Shuning Lu, Haiyan Zhou and Ying Yu, all master students from Journalism School of Fudan University, for their helping in coding media content, cleaning survey data, and making transcripts of gatekeeper interviews.


Rasha Kamhawi would like to thank the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida for partial funding of the Egyptian segment of the project. She would also like to thank Khaled Elghamry and Khader Abualhayjaa for coding the Egyptian data.


Two grants for the German part of the project were provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation). Jürgen Wilke received grant number WI 519/26-1 and Thorsten Quandt received grant number QU 260/7-1. Wilke wishes to thank Daniela Stelzmann who served as a research assistant. Quandt wishes to thank Sonja Kröger for conducting the interviews with the Tagesschau journalists.

Hong Kong

Francis Lee and Wan-Ying Lin would like to thank the City University of Hong Kong for an internal strategic research grant given to the team to support the content analysis and the survey. They also with to thank the journalist-interviewees for sharing their insights.


Partial funding for the Israeli segment of the study was provided by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant number 177/08). Cohen also wishes to thank his student ← xiv | xv → coders as well as Alon Kraitzman and Erez Marantz who served as able research assistants. Anat Oren helped in administering the survey and Yasmin Alcalay was instrumental in designing some of the data analysis.


XXII, 391
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2012 (March)
globalization commonality countries journalists viewers society events variability
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 391 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Akiba Cohen (Volume editor)

Akiba A. Cohen (PhD, Michigan State University) is Professor (Emeritus) of Communication at TelAviv University and is currently the Chair of the Department of Communication and Director of the Research Division at the Yezreel Valley College, Israel. He is a Fellow and a former president of the International Communication Association. Among his coauthored books are News Around the World: Content, Practitioners and the Public (2006) and Global Newsrooms, Local Audiences: A Study of the Eurovision News Exchange (1996).


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