The global media system is a large and nuanced connection of countries, stories, and news that flows between nations. There is endless news about endless countries, but some news makes it further and takes a brighter spotlight than others, which raises the question– why? What differentiates countries from one another in terms of news, what determines which countries get coverage or the impact their coverage has?
In a 2015 study of the news flow between 67 countries, researchers dove into these questions, hoping to prove that global news coverage should be more centralized in larger countries with stronger economies. However, throughout the course of the study, the researchers realized that the global news system is far more nuanced than that. The goal of the study was to expose the structure, or lack thereof, in the global media system.
The two key factors that the researchers applied to the study were attention and influence. Attention meaning how much news coverage a certain country got, and what it was that garnered that coverage. Influence, on the other hand, meant the extent to which a country’s domestic media could affect the agenda of international media.
With attention in mind, the researchers found that economically weaker countries were not more likely to cover the news of their stronger counterparts, however, countries with smaller populations were more likely to cover bigger countries. Additionally, countries that were more closely related to one another in terms of geography, trade relations, and economic wellbeing were more likely to report on one another. It is no secret that conflict is newsworthy, so it was also found that countries actively involved in conflict garnered more coverage than those at peace.
In terms of influence, the researchers found that the news media of larger countries was more likely to set the agenda for smaller countries, but smaller countries were better able to push their domestic agenda toward more powerful countries. Trade relationships also helped to predict which countries set the news agenda, as well as geographical proximity. Countries that were closer to one another geographically and countries in trade relationships with one another were more likely to report domestic news on one another.
Ultimately, the study concluded that bigger countries had more ability to be the subject of news, but smaller countries were more likely to succeed in pushing their domestic agendas into the global news system. Bigger countries had less say in the narrative of their country in the global news, but they had more say in general discourse and the direction of international news. The study, for all intents and purposes, pointed to a largely polycentric global news system.
For the full article: https://www-tandfonline-com.umiss.idm.oclc.org/doi/full/10.1080/08838151.2020.1796391
Lei Guo & Chris J. Vargo (2020) Predictors of International News Flow: Exploring a Networked Global Media System, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 64:3, 418-437, DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2020.1796391