Wednesday, April 22, 2009

International news, indispensable or negligible?

To this day, I find the question “Is international news important?” that many Americans ask really difficult to answer.

As a Chinese, I want my country to be known better by other parts of the world, so I surely answer “yes.” As a person having some experience of journalism, I know being a foreign correspondent is fun, exciting, though possibly dangerous. But if I were an ordinary
American, would I care so much about international news? I don’t know.

I pay a lot of attention to international news. But Chinese are generally politics-minded. We have a saying, “each civilian needs to shoulder the responsibility of the world’s rise and fall.” Even though we cannot play a role in world politics, we like to understand it and talk about it.

However, many Americans are much less concerned about the rest of the world, if they are interested in it at all. One guest speaker at our Issue class offended some international students by her remarks “we don’t need international news to survive.” But we have to admit that
in many cases there is an element of truth in this statement. Even though hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar died in last year’s deadly cyclone, and protesters against G-20 summit beleaguered Royal Bank, people here live the same lives, not in the slightest affected by these pieces of news.

But in other cases, international news has more to do with people’s life than did before, as the world becomes smaller because of technological development and globalization. A suspicious rocket launch in as far away as North Korea might threaten Americans’ lives. Tainted Chinese-made pet food might find its way in an American home. We are no longer foot-bound in one place. The whole world is internally connected. You are better off if you are better informed.

The thing is, international reporting has the biggest budget yet the smallest number of readers, thus smallest revenue. At the time when traditional media are in crisis, it takes the biggest blame. Everything just has to go down to business and be calculated.


  1. I realize that it's difficult to get people to care about issues that don't directly affect them, but I think that trying to push international news and finding ways to make people be aware of global issues is vital to having a well-rounded society that is not ignorant of news outside of their own city, state or country.

  2. I think international news is very important to any society, especially because of globalization, as you stated. Maybe international news would have more readers if journalists dedicated themselves to relating the issues back home.

  3. Another somewhat related issue that's come up this semester is reporting the number of deaths in armed conflicts and wars overseas. If readers are becoming numb to these statistics, I'd say it's not their fault. Instead, it's the journalists job to find a more engaging way of conveying this information.