Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Canadian foreign affairs reporting: a critique

Canadian news outlets focus too much on American news.

This is the conclusion of an article just published in the Canadian Journal of Communications by Abby Goodrum and Elizabeth Godo Elections, titled "Wars and Protests? A Longitudinal Look at Foreign News on Canadian Television."

"American content has steadily increased," say the authors. "American news is far more common [in Canadian foreign news] than that of any other nation, and past research has shown that representation of a country in news media is a predictor of favourable public opinion regarding that country. The nature of the coverage has been demonstrated to be irrelevant; it matters simply that the audience is exposed to the country in question (Perry, 1990; Semetko et al., 1992)." (472)

According to the authors, foreign news in Canada tends to "focus on human interest and domestic politics among culturally similar nations, and international conflicts, wars, and violence elsewhere," according to the authors. The “Third world”, according to the article, is portrayed "as rife with conflict and directly opposed to the stable, civilized west", a problem even more worrying given "the diversity of Canadian society and the struggle of Canadian immigrants to see themselves reflected in the national news of their new home country." (472)

This fact, the authors say, "paints a bleak picture for Canadian citizens, whether first-generation or otherwise, whose knowledge of the world and connection to their country of origin is based on what they see in the news" (473).

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