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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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12 Self-Reflexivity of Gatekeepers on Content and Viewers of Foreign News Lars Willnat & Akiba A. Cohen




The previous chapter analyzed how journalists and editors perceive, interpret, and apply news values in the selection of foreign news. While it is important to understand how journalists decide which foreign news stories to select from the daily flood of events that take place around the world, it is also important to know what and how journalists think about the audience for which they produce these stories. Journalists with much experience and on-the-job training certainly are able to apply news values in a more or less routine fashion, because they have internalized what might be important and which stories their organization tends to focus on. However, how journalists think about their audiences and the foreign news available in their nation might be less dependent on experience and organizational factors. Moreover, journalists in nations that are routinely covered in the news of other nations, such as the United States or Great Britain, might think very differently about what foreign news should focus on and what kind of foreign news their audiences might be interested in. As a consequence, it is important to understand how the work of journalists is influenced by their overall perception of foreign news and news audiences in their respective countries.

In this chapter, we focus on two main questions: How do journalists think about foreign news in their country, and how do they think about their audience for foreign news? Specifically,...

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