Everyone has a favorite news channel and publication from which they ingest and perceive the news of the day. The facts and interpretations that journalists choose to convey and omit greatly influences the message that an audience receives. Thusly, the way in which foreign reporters/correspondents portray their assigned country to their fellows in their home country great affects the general public’s perception of that other nation. Each journalist presumably brings to their reporting their own ideologies and prior conceptions of their assigned country; these biases were acquired earlier in life back at home. I can turn to BBC or Al Jazeera if I want to hear how the rest of the world is reporting on events in the USA and/or the rest of the world. This begs the question: do international news broadcasters contribute to a more enlightened global public sphere, or, do they reinforce local perspectives?
Wanning Sun’s exploration of the Andrea Yu affair highlighted the general division between foreign journalists and local journalists in China. Australian reporter William McKenzie actively differentiated himself from the seemingly “tainted” reportings of Andrea Yu, who he implied did not have professional objectivity due to her networks latent connections to the Chinese government. McKenzie wished to distinguish himself as someone on whom non-Chinese citizens could rely to report news in a manner free of the Chinese government’s control and censorship, thereby invoking the ideals of free speech and freedom of information common in the political stance of Western nations. Does this lead to a more “enlightened” global sphere of knowledge? It certainly provides an alternative opinion; although a Western journalist’s perspective still brings its own biases to the table.
There are concerns over the fact that certain news networks, such as BBC and CNNI, dominate the international news scene; and that the current 24/7 format of many news networks increases pressure on networks and reporters alike to sensationalize news to capture greater viewership. This unfortunately leads to distortion and viewer-targeted pandering. Indeed, it is interesting that the international journalists consider themselves as “bastions of free speech… rights and liberty” (Sun, 1906), considering that their assignments and reporting is heavily influenced by the bottom lines of the transnational corporations that own the aforementioned networks and their peers. Nonetheless, the ideals of free speech do proffer a variety of perspectives, enriching any debate in comparison to the censorship present in other countries.
Written by Pattie Umali
Cottle, Simon and Mugdha, Rai. “Global 24/7 news providers : Emissaries of global dominance or global public sphere?” in Global Media and Communication 4(2): 157–181. SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore: 2008). http://gmc.sagepub.com)/10.1177/1742766508091518
Sun, Wanning. “Foreign or Chinese? Reconfiguring the Symbolic Space of Chinese Media” in International Journal of Communication 8 (2014): 1894-1911. http://ijoc.org