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U.S. Media and the Overseas Invasion

In this week's special behind-the-scenes episode, Inside Global Pulse, host Erin Coker gives viewers an inside glimpse of what goes into the making of a Global Pulse Episode, particularly the role of international news outlets. Watch this episode below!

Since the conclusion of the Cold War, and particularly in the last decade, U.S. coverage of international news has significantly declined. While U.S. news outlets briefly ramped up overseas coverage immediately following 9/11, in recent years international stories have once again dropped off in favor of nationally focused pieces. In 2008, foreign news coverage was at a record low.

Strained budgets and sinking ad revenues have further altered the global media landscape, forcing the closure of U.S. foreign bureaus from Paris to Bangkok, with foreign correspondents in the traditional sense becoming increasingly obsolete.

Ironically, news outlets broadcasting in English have exploded in the last decade. Such newly emerging global news channels include Russia Today, China’s CCTV, Al Jazeera English, France 24, and Press TV from Iran, to name a few.  

Why the news invasion? Some experts point to a desire to offer a unique country-specific perspective on a world media stage dominated by CNN and the BBC. A jab, perhaps, at "Anglo-Saxon imperialism." Others see the phenomenon as propaganda by non-democratic governments like China, attempting to skew the facts. Al Jazeera English is still reviled by many Americans as promoting anti-western bias at best, and as a mouthpiece for dangerous extremists at worst.

Regardless of one's position on these international outlets, the majority of Americans are unable (or unlikely) to tune in. In a Foreign Policy editorial, Cyril Blet, author of Une Voix Mondiale Pour un État, (A World Voice for a State), a book profiling the state of world news, notes that unlike in Europe and elsewhere, international channels in the U.S. are available only via special cable or satellite packages, if at all. The lack of easy access to international news channels, he says, puts Americans at a disadvantage.

"When American viewers can't access international news, their ability to take part in global conversations suffers greatly," argues Blet. "The average U.S. television-watcher doesn't ever see the diverse interpretations of any single event that filter in to most TVs across the world."

With the Internet making international programming more accessible than ever, this may change in the coming years. But perhaps less important than specific broadcast platforms in international news distribution, is the belief in the value of these global conversations.


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U.S. Media and the Overseas Invasion