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Foreign News on Television

Where in the World Is the Global Village?

Akiba Cohen

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.
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1 Rationale, Design, and Methodologies Akiba A. Cohen, Thomas Hanitzsch, Agnieszka Stepinska, William Porath, & Christine Heimprecht




Our decision to study foreign news implies, by definition, that we are engaged in comparative research, which itself is a rapidly growing area in the study of media and communication (Esser & Hanitzsch, 2012a; Gurevitch & Blumler, 2004). By delineating foreign news, we are ipso facto distinguishing it from domestic news. This suggests that there must be differences between foreign and domestic news, making the comparison worthwhile and important.

Studying how foreign news and domestic news may differ from country to country could be interesting, of course. However, the moment we speak of foreign news, it would also be natural to consider a broader worldwide perspective, because what is domestic news in one country would be foreign news in another country, or even in several or many countries. Indeed, some events seem to possess properties that prompt journalists and editors to report on them even if they have nothing to do with their own country. Thus, comparing how a variety of countries present news that has no bearing on them is a second dimension for comparison.

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