Dearth of International News (with links!)

This blog post isn’t going to get many readers. The headline is enough for folks to take a pass.


Americans don’t give a hoot about international news, so our news media don’t bother to cover much of it for us. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, it’s a pathetic situation.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism produces its “State of the News Media” report every year. The 2012 edition has an interactive component that allows users to look at the numbers and types of stories covered last year.

For the sake of this post, we’ll break stories down by geography, particularly news reports that were classified as “U.S. International” and “Non-U.S. International.” When looking across all news media outlets, less than 16% of stories focused on U.S. International news, while less than 18% were Non-U.S. International.

PBS is the king of international coverage among national-level news organizations with 17.4% of its coverage focusing on U.S. International news and 28% on Non-U.S. International stories.

NPR devoted the most time to international news among radio outlets, CNN had the highest numbers among cable news operations, and NBC edged out CBS in the broadcast networks’ evening newscasts. (I encourage you to take a look at the numbers by clicking the link above.)

The worst numbers? Small newspapers, with 3.9% and 4.1%, respectively.

Americans have long been criticized for having tunnel vision when it comes to paying attention to international affairs, and this is reflected in our media. News magazine publishers see a drop in sales when an international topic is placed on their front covers. News organizations have been closing their international bureaus. There’s almost zero news about international affairs on local television newscasts and in local newspapers.

Fortunately, it’s much easier for those who want it to seek out international coverage on the Internet. My international journalism class has been talking about this issue for about a month now, and we’re also monitoring various international broadcasters for the types of stories they cover — and the cultural perspectives they use — when producing the news.

Here’s what we’re watching this semester, with links:

Press TV (Iran) —
Al Jazeera (Qatar) —
France 24 (France) —
NHK World (Japan) —
CCTV (China) —
RT (Russia) —
Link TV – “Mosaic” (Middle East) —
Voice of America – “In Focus” (Africa) —

All of these are in English, and they offer a great starting point for getting a different (i.e. non American) perspective on what’s happening in the world today.

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