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Berger

ISOJ 2007

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Berger

  1. 1. Getting the most global medium to live up to its global promise Guy Berger, Rhodes University, South Africa http://guyberger.ru.ac.za
  2. 2. Life in Lagos
  3. 3. .
  4. 4. • DEAR SIR, • FIRSTLY I MUST FIRST SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION; THIS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEEN INTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND TOP SECRET THOUGH KNOW THAT A TRANSACTION OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL MAKE SOMEONE APPREHENSIVE AND ELATED BUT I AM ASSURING YOU THAT ALL WILL BE WELL AT THE END OF THE DAY. I HAVE DECIDED TO CONTACT YOU DUE TO THE URGENCY OF THIS TRANSACTION AS WE HAVE BEEN RELIABLY INFORMED OF YOU DISCRETNESS AND ABILITY TO HANDLE TRANSACTION OF THIS NATURE. • LET ME START BY INTRODUCING MYSELF PROPERLY , I AM MR. TIJANI YUSUFU CREDIT OFFFICER WITH THE UNION BANK OF NIGERIA PLC (UBA) BENIN BRANCH, I CAME TO KNOW OF YOU IN MY PRIVATE SEARCH FOR A RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE PERSON TO HANDLE THIS CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTION,WHICH INVOLVES TRANSFERING HUGE SUM OF MONEY TO A FOREIGN ACCOUNT REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE • THE PREPOSITION: • A FOREIGNER AND AN AMERICAN , LATE ENGR JOHN CREEK (SNR) AN OIL MERCHANT WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA UNTIL HIS DEATH MONTHS AGO IN KENYA AIRBUS (
  5. 5. Third election coming up • Africa’s largest democracy (140m people) • Religious and regional issues • President Olusagun Obasanjo • Unsuccessful 3rd term bid • Vice-president Atiku Abubaker: “There will be no elections if I am blocked from standing” • Africa’s most oil-rich country
  6. 6. s
  7. 7. Q&A: Nigerian election • An interesting story? –You bet! • Will you find it US online media? –Rhetorical question! • Who is the president of Africa? –Well, we know who’s Anna Nicole Smith… • Could it be that the info-rich are also info-poor? –Too true!
  8. 8. Whassu p USA?
  9. 9. Info rich … or poor? Percentage of Americans in 2003 believing that: • Evidence of links between Iraq & al Qaeda – 48% • Weapons of mass destruction been found – 22% • World favored the US going into Iraq – 25%. • Overall 60% had at least 1 of 3 misperceptions
  10. 10. More recently …2006 • Only 32% of Americans could name Vladimir Putin as the president of Russia; • Just over four-in-ten (43%) could name Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. - (2006 July, Pew report). NOTE: 31% getting online news 3 or more x a week.
  11. 11. Effect: • For the American public, whose geographical illiteracy is well documented, it must seem the globe is spinning out of control. - Stevenson & Griffin • … (1994!).
  12. 12. Picture of a paradox … • International affairs remains an afterthought in many American newsrooms, despite trends in technology and trade that are tying the nations of the world closer together. – Peter Grier, CSM • Just as it is more vital to understand what is happening across the globe, and it is simpler to report the story we are less
  13. 13. Foreign is local • “…the demarcation between home and abroad is dissolving as never before. … A London commuter worries about safety on the tube, but this is linked to what is going on in Pakistan and elsewhere.” -Franks. • “Readers in L.A., and New York, and Nebraska live in a globalized world where Windows help calls are answered in Bangalore…” - Editor & Publisher Dec 06.
  14. 14. Foreign is local • “If you understand that if the Middle East goes up in smoke, gas goes to $5 a gallon, that's local. If your National Guard unit is in Afghanistan, that's a local story.” - Burl Osborne, AP • “…foreign news isn’t foreign anymore. It’s domestic news. It’s impossible to decouple what happens overseas with domestic.”
  15. 15. Are audiences uninterested? • An ASNE study in 1990 found that 41% of people said they were very interested in foreign news, but just 5% of editors thought their readers were interested. - Brandt Ayers.
  16. 16. A media lag In 2002, in a Pew study: • 86% of newspaper editors said companies in their community had overseas investments. • Only 50% said that they regularly or fairly regularly covered these stories locally. • Similar splits were found for stories about immigrants, university connections, and foreign business & investment Dwight L
  17. 17. Reasons … • Closing and downsizing bureaus is a symptom and a cause of dwindling coverage. - Ginsberg. • Tom Rosenstiel says that decline in foreign news is not in response to reader demand, but in response to cost cutting. – Seplow.
  18. 18. 9.11 puts world back on map US papers carried more stories on Afghanistan on page 1 in the four months after 911 than in the previous four decades. - Michael Parks.
  19. 19. But regression expected • A Pew survey of 218 press editors in 2002 confirmed them saying that reader interest had increased after 911 … • But 64% expected a shrinkage, and almost the same said their newshole would return to previous levels. - Seplow
  20. 20. Yet, interest remains in 2006 • Nearly as many Americans say they track international news closely most of the time (52%), as say that about national news (55%) and local news (55%). • New interest among women, minorities and less-educated Americans. P J l 2006
  21. 21. Tho it’s Iraq, not all foreign news • Even in the golden age of international coverage, you weren’t getting a lot of news on the world – just on the Cold War. - Andrew Tyndall. • Thus historically, foreign news came from where the correspondents were sent – rather than correspondents being
  22. 22. It’s US-centric • Most international news is domestic news about Americans making news overseas, whether as soldiers, victims of terror or lawbreakers. - Gains, 2003 (cited by Gartner).
  23. 23. Consequences … • Leading US print media took cues from the White House on coverage of Grenada, Afghanistan, Panama, Kuwait and Somalia. • A foreign country is seen only in relation to how it affects the US. - Silverstein 1993
  24. 24. Not unique to US • So-called ‘global’ news is largely domesticated in order to appeal to national audiences. • Stories of the 9.11 commemoration in 2002 carried by broadcasters around the world were all ‘domesticated’ to suit their national audiences. - Clausen (2003)
  25. 25. Amount and type • Quantity, or rather the lack of it, is the first problem. The quality problem is that more than half are related to violence, accident and repression. - Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor. • The foreign news that does appear seldom mentions social, cultural or scientific issues
  26. 26. Qualitative problem Ellen Knickmeyer, ex-West Africa bureau chief for AP: • Afghanistan and Iraq drained budget and reporters, meaning that staffing fell to a level of doing only the must-cover news like wars and coups. • “This reinforced view that Africa is all bad news. Good news often went uncovered ”
  27. 27. Stereotyped • Too much is episodic, meaningless, not placed in a narrative. - Suzanne Franks • Diet of war, disaster and poverty (and men) – breeds a clichéd view and image fatigue. • “Women, the elderly & children invisible in foreign news…” - Beaudoin and Thorson.
  28. 28. Foreign and foreign • There is a “foreign other” and a “familiar other” - Franks • The foreign other = developing world, is more negatively framed - Beaudoin and Thorson
  29. 29. In sum, a narrow picture • Prevails in old media … • Is it reflected in online? (Recalling that, as PEJ says, this platform is no longer a pure reflection of the root or parent – be it print or broadcast)?
  30. 30. High hopes for the web
  31. 31. Distinctive character • The Internet’s capacity to alter traditional notions of space ranks amongst its most exceptional features. - Best et al, 2005. • An internet presence translates to a worldwide presence. - Ian Lamont. 2005.
  32. 32. A globalised public sphere Reese et al. 2006: • Globalization and the Internet have created a space for news and political discourse that overrides geography. • The online environment “deterritoralizes” news, such that the user, creator, and news subject need no longer share the same national frame of reference
  33. 33. Potential • We would expect that the open nature of the Internet world inevitably leads to cross-national connections … • Not to say the global has replaced the local – “just that the nation- state, or even the local community, organizing principle l d i t ” R
  34. 34. A promise fulfilled? “Foreign news is finding its niche on the net” because “the medium matches the message. …by definition, the Internet is international.” - Dirk Smillie, Christian Science Monitor, 1997.
  35. 35. Internet could compensate • “The ability of the public to get foreign news for itself may offer one of the best solutions to dwindling foreign reporting by traditional media.” – Hamilton & Jenner • Huge potential for international links, collaborations, content exchanges even instant web
  36. 36. But: geography of global content • Note if a country is a net importer or exporter of Internet content (whether such content is about “local issues” or not). – cf Zook • In countries without strong production capabilities for online content (incl exotic content), web users can go direct to places where (if) there is such content.
  37. 37. Global imbalances • North American and Western European countries account for close to 90% of the domain names in the world, but only 66% of Internet users. – Zook, 2001 • The 2 regions do not have extensive content about extra- territorial affairs … • In countries with minimal content, Internet users go to US sites – i US f d t t
  38. 38. OLD MEDIA NEW MEDIA Character of content Local- centric Local- centric Production US & West US & West Consumptio n Flow imbalance Less flow imbalance? Mediation Gatekeepin g Direct
  39. 39. Online realities
  40. 40. A double paradox • It is mainly non-US users who experience the international info potential of the Internet. • A country at war has a media culture that is promoting hyperlocalism.
  41. 41. Same day website slides
  42. 42. a
  43. 43. • None leads with an international story. • No internationalised angle. • Some have a degree of foreign content under “World”.
  44. 44. In contrast
  45. 45. Not much in online journ awards • NEW: For distinguished reporting on inter-national affairs, in print or in print & online.
  46. 46. A fraction at the ONA
  47. 47. As for maps
  48. 48. Web 2 & insularity • Social networking – shows falsity of “Daily Me” • The reality alternative is “Daily Us” • … distinct from the “Unknown Them” • Value of diversity unrealised • Including by non-US joining Facebook, etc
  49. 49. Some US users go elsewhere • Especially during the start of the Iraq war. • “Foreign news sites framed the conflict differently than US sites: military conflict, human interest and media self-coverage in the latter; responsibility frame in foreign.” -Dimitrova et al. (Even though AP was often used as a common source!)
  50. 50. Foreign news from foreign places • Around one quarter of US Internet news users visit foreign sites. -Best et al, 2005. • That doesn’t count use of search engines – eg. Al Jazeera showed the biggest spike of any search term in the first month of the Iraq war. - Google Zeitgeist 2003. • Access to foreign online news militates against a common political space and collective identity -Best et al
  51. 51. In other words • Not much reflection of globalisation in US news websites. • Not especially unique to US, however. • Diversity exists – driven by national focus. • Global medium lags global developments! I b l i h l b l
  52. 52. So what’s the reason?
  53. 53. Most-read story NYtimes.com 06
  54. 54. Seattle 2005
  55. 55. Significance
  56. 56. Danny Westneat ST columnist As I look back at the year in news, it's clear I should have focused more on people having sex with horses. That's the conclusion I reach after reviewing a new list of the year's top local news stories. … This is the people's-choice list. It's not a survey of what news you say you read. It's what you actually read. What's more, four more of the year's 20 most clicked upon local news
  57. 57. It's not just the horse sex! • “The rest of the top 20 people's- choice list is eye-opening, as well. • … a wrenching account of a North Bend man finding photos on a Thai beach that captured a Canadian couple's last moments before the tsunami hit. • A local congressman admitting his vote to invade Iraq was a
  58. 58. US allure for foreign users • http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=971
  59. 59. The appeal of US culture • Nearly one third of traffic to US news websites comes from outside the traditional offline distribution area. - Best et al, 2005. • “The fact that more than three- quarters of the traffic to Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft is now coming from outside of the U.S. is indicative of what a truly global medium the Internet has become.” – http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp? press=1057
  60. 60. • “…five of the top 10 General News sites worldwide are operated by U.S.-based companies,” • “Yahoo! News is the category leader, both domestically and worldwide, while MSNBC and CNN rank among the top 5 news sites in the U.S. and
  61. 61. Mixed feelings • Neil Thurman: high overseas audience raises server costs. • They are also occasional, not regular, visitors. • So, some news sites would prefer 100% national audience.
  62. 62. Geo-targeting
  63. 63. Gated cybercommunities Mark Tremayne (2005): • Fewer external links than just a few years ago. • Own archive favored over content that is off-site. • 246 sites at the start of the Iraq war: 75% of links were internal. - Dimitrova et al. • Blogs probably have more links off-site than traditional news sites, but blogosphere across national lines still underdeveloped. - Reese et al 2006.
  64. 64. Summing up • A minority of US users go offshore to find foreign news. • US news websites don’t aim at a global audience, but foreigners come anyway. • Result: a US-centric global information universe. • Will it last – cf. Bollywood & Nollywood?
  65. 65. The world is changing
  66. 66. On the move
  67. 67. Narcissism? DOMESTICATION • There is a global trend to relate foreign news to domestic concerns. • The result is that foreign news in national media reveals as much as about the countries covering the news as about the countries being covered. - Gundula Stoll (1998)
  68. 68. Export imperatives • Globalising means making a local product global, and then local again, so that more locales can use it. • Localisation is the process of making a product that was designed to be marketed on a global scale usable locally. • It means adaptation to innumerable local contexts. - Alberto Orengo.
  69. 69. Customized …ghettoized? • Many sites allow consumers to personalize the type of international news by region • Shows facility of the web – and f t ti
  70. 70. Challenge of relevance "I've never disbelieved in Americans' appetite for foreign news. You can ask whether someone is concerned with the North American Free Trade Agreement, or ask whether they're interested in trucks getting free passage between countries. You'll get different answers. Lots of people, besides the college educated, care if you put it in a context they can relate
  71. 71. It’s the type of foreign news • Public interest is “less in politics and the stuff of governments than it is in, say, global warming, or hoof-and- mouth disease, or the status of women”. - Andrew Kohut, Pew Centre. • National survey shows readers prefer good news and about ordinary people, than about politics, government, economics, disasters. Say there is too much violence and they want more about culture and
  72. 72. Own backyard • One Atlanta editor cites exploding Latino and South Asian, and rapidly growing East Asian and African, populations in his paper's circulation area, and says his readers "need to know these guys”. • “They live down the block from you. Their kids go to school with yours. They're Atlantans, too."
  73. 73. Is there a difference? • Common refrain is that foreign news is foreign and local news is local, and people want and need more of the latter and less of the former. • Such distinctions, however, are now as anachronistic as hot type and copy boys. • In a world of increasingly porous borders, the lines between foreign and domestic blur for news just as they blur for commerce, health, culture, and the environment.
  74. 74. Story and the teller Washington Post foreign correspondent Don Oberdorfer: • “We’re in a new era now in which the ambiguity in what is national and what is international is very great” - • “If we just…say that if the news isn’t coming from overseas then it’s not international, we’re misleading ourselves.”
  75. 75. Story and the teller • Just as we see the emergence of foreign foreign correspondents, we are seeing the rise of local foreign correspondents. • “Local stories far from home” • “Local journalists can cover foreign stories.” -Oberdorfer
  76. 76. Who’s “foreign”? • Because 50% of Bloomberg’s subscribers are outside the United States, its staff cautions against describing its non-U.S.-based journalists as foreign correspondents. • The foreign national correspondent may be a reporter in India writing for an Indian daily, whose work is read over the Internet by a resident of I di li
  77. 77. Getting first-hand reports • There was a time when you had people on the ground. - Scottie Williston, ex Cairo bureau chief for CBS. • The importance of “being there”: without it, you sacrifice depth and perspective of an on-the-scene reporter. - Garrick Utley
  78. 78. Cover “far-off” stories in their own right
  79. 79. Bloggers • Anyone sending information from one country to another is a de facto foreign correspondent. - Garrick Utley, 1997 • But bloggers not a complete alternative to foreign correspondents. • Compatible: authoritative news, personal comment.
  80. 80. So, the point is:
  81. 81. Limits – for now (Pew 2006) • The web serves mostly as a supplement to other sources rather than a primary source of news. • For now, those who use the web for news still spend more time getting news from other sources than they do getting news online.
  82. 82. Limits – for now (Pew 2006) • In addition, web news consumers emphasize speed and convenience over detail. Of the 23% who got news on the internet yesterday, only a minority visited newspaper websites. • Instead, websites that include quick updates of major headlines, such as MSNBC, Yahoo, and CNN dominate the web-news
  83. 83. Web and (G)local? • “The public’s appetite for foreign news has changed from a desire for a full meal to a willingness to pick from a revolving tray or light appetizers.” Deborah Amos, ex NPR foreign correspondent. • PEJ says that news organizations are becoming more niche players related to what they cover. But cautions: “does localism mean provincialism”?
  84. 84. Local info – yes, but • Grassroots news sites – hyperlocal. (Steve Yelvington). • Project for Excellence in Journalism 2007: for some newspapers, the new brand to build audience around is hyper-localism. • Priority, but not exclusively. • Qtn: Why isn’t hyperglobalism also a priority?
  85. 85. Building competencies… Need a new “Bringing the World Home: Showing Readers their Global Connections”, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1999. Thomas Ginsberg, Philadelphia Inquirer: • Leverage a major event – pump out back-ground (although this can also be too late). • Peg story to local affairs, incl immigrants – but danger of missing
  86. 86. Ongoing efforts… • The way to give Americans understand-ing about the rest of the world is to provide international coverage, over the long haul, that reflects the same values given to reporting news at home. … • At home, when journalists want to tell readers and viewers about Christianity in America, they don’t confine their coverage to the Branch Davidian and other t i t t
  87. 87. Economics ahead • There is a long tail – some day it will wag. Who wags it is another question …
  88. 88. Ideological: out of synch: has to change Organizational: outsourcing, rich niching Media Routine: new topics & forms of news Individual: up to us? Extramedia: increasing external sources Shoemaker and Reese model
  89. 89. Leadership? • “If the media don’t provide readers and viewers with sound international reporting, how many will know what they are missing?” - Edward Seaton, former president of American Society of Newspaper Editors. • Beware self-fulfilling prophesy. • “A lack of knowledge breeds a lack of interest” - Katherine Graham cited
  90. 90. Trying … • Serve the insiders: reflect world on door-step, & the world just a plane hop away. • Serve the outside users: they are part of the audience, include them in the social networking and other participation. • Avoid a cyberbubble • Keep an eye on language access.
  91. 91. Can be done … • Reflecting interdependency, common humanity, diversity. • Even what people want – horse sex, death of Anna Nicole Smith. Tell how is it playing elsewhere. • Think truly global (Foreign AND foreign). • Connect (don’t reduce) to local.
  92. 92. Horizons • News is a window on the world, but the view depends on whether it is large or small, many panes or few, whether the glass is opaque or clear. - Gaye Tuchman, 1973 • Need web windows to match the view! • Including the Nigerian election!

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