Most people are at least a little bit aware that what we see on the news is not strictly all there is to know.
Most people also suspect that many of our news outlets have their own agendas.
However, the extent to which this exists might surprise you.
If we take the example of the Arab Spring, discussed by Peter Lee-Wright in ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, it was covered somewhat sparingly around the world. There are many reasons why: deadlines, difficulty of access to the Middle East, various other news priorities, political agendas and the need for international events to be filtered to suit a domestic audience. Considering the great upheaval, and its potential impacts, this seems a very sad thing.
TV news especially finds it difficult to report on events which are difficult for journalists to access. However, with the widespread of smartphones, it has now become much simpler for news outlets to crowdsource footage and images. In Australia, for example, in the Brisbane floods of 2011, or the Victorian bushfires, many people took footage or photos of how the natural disasters were affecting them. Some of this makes it to TV. However, in places such as Syria, this information is far harder to come by, and many news outlets simply find the task too difficult.
Another recent example is of news coverage from the day of the Boston bombings 2013. Though this was of course a tragic event, a bombing in Iraq that killed dozens received little to no coverage across Australia’s major TV stations. This is a worrying trend, because if our ‘news’ only reflects events in some portions of the world, then how can we expect to have accurate knowledge about the rest of the world? As we can see in the following clip, U.S tragedies receive far more coverage than those in other parts of the world.
There is hope though. News outlets such as Al Jazeera and Russia Today often cover international events, particularly middle eastern ones, with greater depth of analysis than many traditional news outlets.
Globalisation is happening. It is not enough to simply cover domestic events. What happens in the rest of the world now has the potential to affect all of us. It is important that we know that the evening news bulletin is not all there is to know about what’s happening in the world.