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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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14 Linking Content and Audiences: Countries of Interest Francis Lee, Jurgen Wilke, & Akiba A. Cohen




For decades, news research has repeatedly told us that the countries of the world are not equally newsworthy. The few countries that are the most powerful in the international political economic system, such as the United States, tend to get the most coverage by news media around the world. Beyond the globally powerful countries, news media of a particular nation tend to cover countries that are geographically, culturally, and/or economically proximate (Chang, 1998; Galtung & Ruge, 1965; Wu, 1998, 1998b, 2000). The analysis in Chapter 4 largely replicated this basic characteristic of foreign news based on the data of the current project. Tuchman’s (1978) famous metaphor of the “news net,” originally developed to make sense of local news, is therefore equally apt for describing foreign news. Covering the world is like casting a net instead of a blanket; most of the time, only the “big fishes” are caught.

Compared to research on news content, there has been less that addresses audience interests in foreign countries. But the few available studies also point to the limited attention scope of the audience. Sparkes and Winter (1980), for instance, found that Americans were more interested in Europe and much less interested in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, a finding that can be readily understood in terms of cultural proximity and economic relations. An experimental study by Straughan (1989) also showed that geographical proximity...

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