Foreign News on Television: Where in the World Is the Global Village?

TitleForeign News on Television: Where in the World Is the Global Village?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Cohen, A., A. Stepinska, A. Belo, C. Mujica, A. Sendin, K. De Swert, F. Lee, J. Wilke, and C. Heimprecht
Affiliation (1st Author)Emek Yezreel College
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeJRE W2c
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE W2c
Time of Session11:00-12:30
Session TitleTheme I: International Collaborative Research in Journalism Research: New Challenges and Emergent Perspectives - Foreign News on Television: Where in the World Is the Global Village?
Submission ID5025

Panel Title   Foreign News on Television: Where in the World Is the Global Village?   Framing Context   This panel celebrates the publication of a new book based on a 4-year comparative study of foreign news on television. The context of the study was, on the one hand, the belief among many academics, politicians, economists and journalists that the world is globalizing in many realms of life, including the news media. On the other hand, we have been witnessing a worrisome global decline in the presentation of foreign news on television. Globalization has led many to believe that the world is becoming more cosmopolitan, as reflected in the menu and orientation of foreign news on television. The contending position is that news remains as nationalistic parochial as ever despite globalization. Our specific questions were how television—which is still the undisputed main source of information for most people worldwide—presents foreign news as well as hybrid news (foreign news that is also relevant to the country of broadcast) in comparison with domestic news. We also examined the degree to which citizens are interested in foreign news and whether or not they have a sense of cosmopolitanism, of belonging to a global community, which foreign news may foster. And third, we were interested in how gatekeepers of foreign news reflect upon the contents they produce and on what their viewers think and desire. Finally, we examined how these three elements are related.   At a higher level, we were interested in the overarching question of the extent to which there are similarities and differences in foreign news around the world. In a sense, our question was: has McLuhan’s metaphoric “global village” become a reality? The project consisted of three stages: a content analysis of TV news in 17 countries (Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States); a survey of news consumers in 13 of the countries; and a series of in-depth interviews with gatekeepers responsible for foreign news in 12 of the countries. Our inevitable conclusion is that there is no global village. There is much variability across countries at many levels: in terms of the amount, nature, topics, actors, countries depicted and formats of presentation of foreign news; in terms of peoples’ interest in foreign news; and in terms of what gatekeepers think about it. Despite the potential for communality across nations, there remains much more division than could be hoped for. We believe that our shared experiences will be a meaningful addition to the repertoire of comparative research, which is more often talked about than done.    Papers – The panel will consist of the following 4 papers:   Paper 1 An Overview of the Multinational Project   Presenter: Akiba Cohen, Emek Yezreel College, Israel   The main objective of the project was to examine how foreign news on television is presented in a variety of countries around the world and how people around the globe relate to it. This paper presents an overview of the project. A 4-week content analysis was conducted in early 2008 examining public and commercial stations in 17 countries yielding over 17,000 news items. Surveys were conducted in 13 of the countries in 2010 with over 10,000 respondents. Finally, 49 in-depth interviews were conducted with foreign news editors and journalists in 12 of the countries. The main overall finding of the project was that there was much more variability across the countries than communality. This suggests that despite globalization, there seems to be little similarity in contents, in viewer interest and in attitudes of journalists responsible for delivering foreign news. Putting it in a more flowery way, despite certain expectations, a global village does not seem to exist.     Paper 2   An overview of the findings in a nutshell   Presenters: Agnieszka StÄ™piÅ„ska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland António Belo, School of Communication and Media Studies, Lisbon, Portugal Constanza Mujica, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Santiago, Chile André Sendin, School of Communication and Media Studies, Lisbon, Portugal.   This paper presents a comparative analysis of some of the major findings from the three stages of the project: the content analysis, the survey and the interviews with gatekeepers. Although there are no overall systematic trends among the 17 countries, the paper highlights some differences and some similarities. It will also present a broad comparison between foreign and domestic news. The focus will be on several specific points: (1) the relative paucity of foreign news on television, its shorter duration and lower placement in the line-ups of the newscasts; (2) the appearance of actors in foreign news and the particular attention to high status people as well as common citizens; (3) the frequently perceived status of television as the main source of information for citizens in most of the countries; and (4) the routines of selection and the high cost of production of foreign news coupled with lower interest by audiences, hence the trend of shrinking foreign news departments.   Paper 3 Linking contents and survey data: Topics and countries of interest   Presenters: Knut De Swert, University of Amsterdam, the Netherland Francis Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong   This paper explores to what extent the topics in foreign news on television and the countries of location and involvement in the respective stories correspond with people’s interest in such topics and countries. Within the context of a globalizing world and  increasing commercial pressures on news production, media organizations cannot afford to deliver only the news they think the public needs to know; they must also take into account what the public seemingly wants to know and/or considers being important. Alternatively, people may become more interested in topics and/or countries that they frequently get to see on the news. Against this backdrop, and using statistical procedures that enable us to compare content and survey data, we provide an overview of the level of correspondence in 13 of the 17 countries in which both content analysis and surveys were conducted. Finally, the paper explores and discusses several possible determinants of varying degrees of correspondence.   Paper 4    Strategies, tactics and practical experiences from comparative research on foreign news Presenter: Jürgen Wilke, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany     Comparative international research presents numerous problems. The fourth and final paper provides a meta-level résumé of the entire project spanning 17 countries and four years in the making that required intense collaboration. It will present the strategic dilemmas we faced and the tactical decision-making processes we used to resolve the various issues. It will also discuss some of the experiences we had in accommodating varying research perspectives and scholarly traditions from different cultures.  We will discuss several main issues, some of which had potential pitfalls that by and large were averted. The following points will be discussed: The nature of the project (inductive vs. deductive); prerequisites of the research team members; recruitment of participants from around the globe; funding; materials to be used and critical common time frames; information exchange and coordination; development of research instruments (codebook and questionnaire); data encryption and reliability; data fusion and analysis; cross cultural interpretations of findings; publication strategies; and finally, our own gratifications and frustrations.    

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