The American News Vacuum

New Jersey, Saturday

It is a struggle to get world news in America.

We spent this morning with my mother, and this afternoon worked in the attic and 3rd floor of her house. It’s been hot and humid, and we looked forward to this evening, when we’d have a glass of wine and watch the news in the only air-conditioned room in the house.

This was not to be. WIth over 80 TV channels on cable, there was nothing in the way of global news. What we did find was:

– local news about the rain and wind related to Tropical Storm Hanna

– Obama and McCain speaking via satellite to the AARP convention

– college football games

– talking heads analyzing this week’s Republican convention

In June, we found the American version of BBC World News at 6 or 7pm on cable TV. Maybe because it’s Saturday, it wasn’t on tonignt.

It appears that if news doesn’t directly involve the U.S., it’s not worthy of being reported. One friend said, “there’s BBC news on the radio once a day, but I’m not sure what time.” Another friend who’s CFO of a multinational company laughed and said, “It happens all the time. All of our overseas visitors go crazy after a day or two, trying to find world news.”

I know there’s a world beyond New York and the United States, but you’d never know it without looking hard to find it. It shouldn’t be so difficult.

Our Internet connection is sporadic but I’m glad we have it. Thank God for BBC World News, even when our wireless is up and down and dial-up takes forever. If the world is due to end tomorrow, could someone please let us know?

4 Responses

  1. All news is essentially local! It is a matter of what locality one is interested in. There are a number of people in my town who refuse to read the local paper because they don’t think that what happens in the local community is worth reading about. An equally problematic response. I think the New York Times does a good job of reporting world news, although with the size of the United States and the decrease in circulation for most newspapers, it is not surprising that national, state, and local news gets much more space. Most internet providers either fall into the niche category or are large scale providers such as CNN that are attempting to be all things to everyone.This, of course, will result in breadth, but little depth. In many cases the problem is too much news as opposed to not enough. What this means is that stuff like sports and entertainment is often packaged with all kinds of more serious news. However this style seems to be popular with the masses, albeit frustrating for those folks who are looking for more hard news.

  2. Thanks, Eleanor. You make some excellent points. Mine is one of balance, and (not) seeing the world from other perspectives.

    Local news and news of one’s country is naturally of interest and usually first. But the contrast is stiking re what you get in the U.S. vs. olther countries.

    Generally speaking:

    In Australia, news covers: Australia, Asia, Europe, U.S.

    In Asia, news covers: Asia, Australia (sometimes), Europe, U.S.

    In Europe, news covers: Europe, Asia, U.S., Australia (sometimes, especially in England)

    In U.S., news covers: U.S., U.S., U.S., U.S If it’s non-U.S. you can be sure U.S. is involved so it’s really U.S., too.

    It’s just too hard in the U.S. to find news about the rest of the world.

    • For some reason I read this post and my response and then yours over again. I always just listen to Katty Kay on BBC World News America. When I first began to watch the show, it came from London, but now it comes from Washington, D.C. I always enjoy seeing if the top news on BBC World News America is the same as the CBS Evening News. Sometimes it is, such as tonight when selecting a new pope led the news on both networks.

      Often it is not, and the BBC show always has much more news on Europe, Africa and Asia than on any of the U.S. news shows. They also spend a longer time with the folks that they interview and the experts that they talk to in their studio. Of course being on PBS with no commercials makes that easier. I also enjoy the BBC slant on what is happening in the United States.

      Even so, my favorite way to acquire news remains the New York Times, however. World, national, and tri-state area are all well covered and information is provided in depth. It can take all day to read the Sunday edition. Have to wonder how much longer conventional newspapers will be able to continue. Even the New York Times bleeds loads of money every quarter. I must also confess to reading news stories on my phone or on the internet, but I still like to read a real paper every morning!

  3. Eleanor, a belated thanks for your comment! I think it’s great you watch the BBC World News America — Katty Kay is excellent and we always try to watch it in the evening when visiting my mother. Mom gets the program in her room but we get frustrated as we can’t get it in one of our regular hotels — so back to the Internet.

    Papers are good to read sometimes too, for sure. I still subscribe to the hardcopy NY Times book review 🙂

    Thanks and happy watching/reading.

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