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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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6 Formal Features and Sources in Foreign News Jurgen Wilke & Christine Heimprecht




Television is an audiovisual mass medium that transmits its messages with the help of different systems of semiotic signs and two perceptual channels. This is true for all types of program content, including news, which, according to Bourdon (2000), has taken on the form of a “specific genre.” This newscast genre has universal characteristics, including a brief introduction with credits—often featuring a globe—and an anchorperson, who stares at the viewer and reports the world by “launching” reports of correspondents and interviewing guests in the studio and reporters live from the scene of the events.

As Bourdon (2000) observes, this genre developed in four stages. In the 1950s it was characterized by “marginality and uncertainty,” being not yet a central genre or an essential slot of programming (p. 63). The 1960s saw stabilization: “The importance of television as a medium could no longer be denied. News found a specific location and duration in the schedule, establishing itself as a major, national ritual” (p. 81). The next stage, in the 1970s, emphasized the anchorperson, the journalist-presenter who was placed center stage, according to the American model. This was also the period of rapid technical development of video, satellite, and graphic packaging that “allowed for a better, slicker, visual offering; with the everlasting question of its television values or its journalistic value” (p. 81).

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