Pew report shows gap in international views of old and new media

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has a new report out on the links and differences between new media — blogs, Tweets, YouTube — and traditional media.

For a general look at the report go to the DC SPJ site: Pew Report: Old Media/New Media

What I found interesting is the gap between the two groups of media in the perception of the importance and reporting of international news.

Let’s start with the first table the Pew Report has:

As you can see, foreign events account for only 9 percent of the traditional press news hole. At the same time international events account for 12 and 13 percent on blogs and Twitter respectively. And 26 percent on YouTube.

Okay, a lot of that chatter may be soft news items or videos of the pope getting knocked over during a Christmas celebration.

The important thing is that bloggers and Twitter users are looking at the rest of the world.

The second-biggest subject on blogs in the year was foreign events. Fully 12% of the top stories in blogs dealt with international events ranging from the protests in Iran to a vote on the number one song on the Christmas British pop charts. Access on the Web to overseas news outlets like to the BBC and the Guardian as well as prominent British bloggers buoys this tendency.

As with much of the domestic news agenda, many of the foreign event stories that inspired blogger interest received far less attention in the traditional American press, even if the stories linked to were originally found there.

A comment by a judge in Saudi Arabia that it was acceptable for husbands to slap wives who spend too lavishly, for example, was the second-biggest story one week in May, drawing large amounts of criticism in the blogosphere. It received almost no attention in the mainstream press.

“Isn’t it ironic that a woman can be punished for spending too much money on a garment that they are forced to wear to authenticate their status as secondary citizens in a patriarchal society,” remarked Womanist Musings.

Traditional media make up the main source of information for the bloggers and Tweeters. (So one has to wonder where will New Media get its news once Old Media dies off?)

But where do bloggers get their international news and information?

The Pew Center looked at the stories linked by new media users from traditional news organizations. The Center then broke down the topics from each of these traditional news sites.

Predictably, links to the BBC had a lot of foreign (non-USA) news. In fact, 69 percent of the BBC links fit into this category.

Once the U.S. media sites were analyzed, only CNN was in double digits.

News Organization Percentage of Foreign News Stories linked
CNN 13
Fox News 8
Washington Post 5
New York Times 5

To me, the lack of reliance of U.S. media outlets for the new media generation for international stories is depressing.

There is the obvious connection that U.S. media don’t care that much about international news. What that eventually means is that without a peppering of international news in U.S. media outlets, casual readers/viewers are not getting a perspective on the much larger world.

The fact that there are bloggers and Tweeters who care about international news is not new. What is depressing is that they seem to  depend on foreign news services — such as the BBC or the Guardian — for their links.

Of course there will be more non-American stories on the BBC. But look at the newshole for bloggers and mainstream media. Twelve percent of the blog entries are about international events. (And remember, these are stories that are different from U.S. foreign policy issues.) While the traditional media only allot 9 percent. (TBH, I thought the number would have been lower.)

I am betting a lot of this goes to the same old problem. Publishers, editors, news directors, etc. keep chanting “Local! Local! Local!” and don’t seem to understand that local events are affected by international events. And that international issues have a direct impact on local issues.

When will local reporters and media operators understand that these links exist and start writing/broadcasting about them? It doesn’t take a lot of effort to discover how a local tool and die shop has an international connection. Or how the growing number of immigrants in a small town in Iowa is a direct result of political or economic upheaval in another country.

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2 Comments

Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

2 responses to “Pew report shows gap in international views of old and new media

  1. Pingback: Journalism and the World » Blog Archive » Transmitting international news, Old and New Media differences

  2. Pingback: Pew report on Old and New Media has many levels | Journalism, the World and the Future

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