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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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2 The Prevalence of News: Domestic, Foreign, and Hybrid Agnieszka Stepinska, William Porath, Constanza Mujica, Xiaoge Xu, & Akiba A. Cohen




From the 17th through the 19th century, as Wilke (1987) demonstrated in his historical study of foreign news in German, French, English, and American newspapers, there was steady growth in the amount of foreign news coverage. Today, with the increasing globalization of news organizations (Chalaby, 2005) and the greater political and economic interdependence among nations, one could assume that the role of foreign news has increased in importance. As Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the global village seems to have been realized, information from abroad should be more significant and relevant to audiences than ever before. In addition, the recent and rapid dissemination of new technologies enables broadcasters to gather, produce, and distribute without delay news from all over the world.

Some studies, however, conclude that there is a shrinking foreign news hole (see, for example, Moisy, 1997; Norris, 1995; Riffe, Aust, Jones, Shoemaker, & Sundar, 1994). Even historically, the growth in the amount of foreign news coverage was accompanied by an increase in attention to domestic news that put greater limits on the space available for foreign news (Wilke, 1987). Nevertheless, several scholars (Biltereyst, 2001; Riffe et al., 1994; Stacks, 2004; Wouters, 2011) warn about a certain bias in analyzing the decline of foreign news by pointing to the overly episodic, “snapshot” nature of the evidence supporting foreign news’ long-term decline. ← 23 | 24 →

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