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Foreign News on Television

Where in the World Is the Global Village?

Edited By 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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5 Actors in Foreign News Antonio Belo, Elizabeth Godo, Knut De Swert, & Andre Sendin




Following the analysis of the overall content of foreign news and their geographic origins, our next step was to investigate an equally interesting question: Who gets access to the news? In this chapter we refer to “actors” as the people or organizations that are mentioned or privileged with the opportunity to provide information and opinions to the public via the newscasts. In the following pages we discuss several issues related to the presence of actors in the news, including the identity of actors who appear most often and how they are portrayed. We do this separately for domestic and foreign news in order to discover whether or not differences exist in these two domains. In addition, as in the other chapters, we compare the 17 countries in our sample in order to determine whether certain phenomena related to actors are universal or can be attributed to the particulars of a specific country.

We begin by presenting a brief summary of previous studies on actors in television news, focusing primarily on the roles and the characteristics of actors. Next, we describe the procedure we adopted for coding over 30,000 actors identified in our sample of news items. Finally, we present the main findings regarding presence of actors in newscasts: their status, their role, and topics in which they appear and their gender.

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