Comment Paper – 13: Are there Americans really interesting in international news?


It is no secret that media channels play a special function in uniting a society. International news in American mainstream channels strongly correlates with U.S. foreign policy. However, I am little bit confused about the main purpose of articles in which researchers analyzed certain countries’ image in American media (Golan, 2007; Stone & Xiao, 2007; Fahmy & Al Emad, 2011). Likewise, in America the market dictates the content of massages, while in other developing countries governors control media content.

NPR

I tend to believe that American media masters the producing of international news, and manipulates it depending on their geopolitical interest. For example, a couple weeks ago there was a championship in Kuwait where a Kazakh sportsman won the gold medal, and during the medal ceremony instead of the Kazakh national anthem, organizers “accidentally” played a song from the “Borat” movie. A short time later the same humiliating mistake happened with a Slovenian sportsman in exactly the same day and in the same place. The next day organizers apologized and the ceremonies were again held, but this time with the correct anthems. However, the incident with the fake Kazakh anthem spread to all English-language media (none of them mentioned the Slovenian sportsman case), plus Internet video services. Not only were the Kazakh people insulted, but Kuwaitian officials were also in disarray about the Western media’s coverage. This incident of playing the wrong national is very common during sports events. A month earlier, France also made the same mistake by playing the Soviet anthem during a Kazakh sportsman’s medal ceremony.  However, the France incident was not as widely publicized.  There are 297 results under the key word “Kazakhstan” at the NPR.org site (see the screen below). Guess, what at the top three hits are? The fake anthem incident in Kuwait with the Kazakh sportsmen.

From the American media users’ point of view, this news can be categorized as entertainment and in an event-oriented context (Chang, 1998). However, American media’s intent of portraying Kazakhstan in a particular way is obvious. I wonder why NPR did not make an analytical program when the American Peace Corpus project was suddenly banned in Kazakhstan last year.  The Peace Corpus project is funded by American tax payers and logically Americans should concern themselves and make alarm about such a ban. Not only is Kazakhstan’s, image that of a poor, desperate nation but so are the images of African countries as well (Golan, 2007). The Soviet Union is also perceived negatively as an enemy and an evil empire (Wang, 1995). To sum it up, I agree that news on Third World countries in American media focuses dominantly on negative aspects (Masmoudi, 1979).

Are there Americans really interesting in international news? I do not think so. First of all, the English speaking medium dominates the media world. In order to understand and analyze other countries’ media someone needs to know the countries’ languages. Secondly, American policy is very strong in the world. American media presents international news only if it is related to U.S. economical interest. Compared to developing nations, America is a country built exporting their own culture. Last but not least, western media presents American democratic values as the core standard to the rest of the world. International news is mostly covered by assuming American democratic standard as the default rule for every society.

In conclusion, international news in U.S. media explains the best American foreign policy, as giving into American democracy. I strongly believe international news has ideological contexts and foreign audiences can better analyze news if they understand the context of the country’s original language. This gives the advantage of being able to analyze events from different perspectives.

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