Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Are audiences less interested in foreign news?

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The headline might be included in the category of the «one hundred million questions», those so important or decisive that can change, if correctly answered, a whole paradigm.

When explaining the decline of foreign correspondents and international news in the media map of many countries -the US and Spain, for example-, most analysts point to, as a kind of accepted wisdom, growing economic costs, technological change, geopolitical transformations (new agenda) and, inevitably, less interest in audiences.

In a post published by the BBC in its College of Journalism blog on April 24, 2013, Richard Sambrock, director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University, questions some of the basic presumptions on the subject.

TV bulletins still on top for big international news

Wednesday 24 April 2013, 12:38

Richard Sambrook

There are some long-accepted wisdoms in the debate about the future of news. For example, that audiences are relentlessly drifting from the old analogue platforms and services to the advantages of digital platforms; that in the plentiful digital marketplace there is less space or justification for public service intervention; and it has been a long-held truth that audiences are less interested in foreign news and tend to switch away from it. However, the real picture may be more complicated.

The period 2010-11 was a remarkable one for international news: the Arab Spring, the Chilean miners’ rescue, the Haiti earthquake, Japan’s tsunami, extreme floods in Pakistan and more.

So what can the news coverage of these events tell us about the public appetite for international news – and how people choose to follow it?

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has looked at the BBC’s coverage online and on its main TV bulletins – and has looked at audience behaviour. There are some surprises in the findings published this week.

Firstly, TV bulletins still rule…

Secondly, less surprisingly, audiences have minds of their own…

Further, placement or duration of coverage seemed to bare little relationship to viewing figures…

Finally, although when asked audiences say they prefer domestic news to international news, and most news editors will say that a foreign story loses readers or viewers, it was clear for the most significant events this wasn’t true…MORE

 See all BBC College of Journalism posts and videos


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