Saturday, October 16, 2004

More International News Please

On his weekly opinion piece on 60 Minutes Sunday (October 3rd), Andy Rooney made an observation that I agree with: "One of the reasons America is hated around the whole world is because we’re ignorant of everyone else’s problems, and that’s partly our fault. Television provides too little news." Now some may accuse Rooney of being a blame-America-first liberal, or ask why America needs to care about "everyone else’s problems." These may be legitimate qualms for the rabid partisan or ideologue, but I would argue that in spite of the language, Rooney raised a very important issue. There is a dearth of international news in American TV broadcasts (by foreign news I mean, international news that has little to do with America)

It is common knowledge that Americans get most of their news from televison news broadcasts and if one spends a great deal of time watching the news (which I do), you will be hard pressed, to identify any purely international news: news that has little to do with Iraq, the price of oil, or the war on Terror. Fox News dedicates 80 Seconds, and CNN headline news has the Global Minute, and very little else. You are unlikely to learn a lot of what is happening around the world if you watch only three minutes of news, and are worse off if you do not have cable. You are unlikely to know that the War in Southern Sudan is coming to an end, Somalia recently elected a new president, Indonesia has a new leader or any other pertinent international news stories.

It is quite unfortunate that the American public is denied the opportunity to learn more about the world. We leave in an interdependent world: we need to learn more about and learn from each other, the only way to do this is by being voracious consumers of news from disparate parts of our world. This not only makes us better people, but better citizens of the world.

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