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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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16 Where in the World Is the Global Village? Akiba A. Cohen




As stated at the outset of this volume, our main goal was to examine foreign news that is presented on national television in a variety of countries. The context for our study was, on one hand, the ongoing process of globalization, which has been manifest in recent decades in many realms of life, including the media in general and in the increasing prominence of global 24/7 news networks in particular (see, for example, Chalaby, 2009). On the other hand, we have been witnessing a significant decline in the presentation of foreign news on national television in many countries (Seib, 1997; Tyndall Report, 2010). Thus, in a growing state of interdependence among nations, the question is how the medium of television—which is still the undisputed main source of information for most people worldwide—presents events from abroad that are totally unrelated to the country of broadcast, as well as events that may be relevant to the country of broadcast in one way or another. We were also interested in the extent to which people are interested in foreign news and how gatekeepers responsible for providing such news reflect on the content they produce and on what their viewers think and desire. At a higher level, we were interested in the overarching question of the extent to which similarities and differences exist around the world. To put it in a flowery way, our question is: Has the metaphoric “global village...

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