American Political Science Association: Political Communication Pre-Conference
Global news broadcasting now reaches its audience very nearly in real time. The technology facilitating global communication via TV broadcasting and via the web is readily available. Even though the audience is small, there are enterprises that aspire to communicate with this global audience. We studied the development of global television news broadcasting between 1998 and 2003: both CNN, with WorldView, and BBC, with World News, reached out to a global audience. Recently Aljazeera developed an English language website to reach out to a broader world audience. The news on the Aljazeera website can be compared with the news on the globally oriented pages of the websites of BBC and CNN, permitting us to examine the construction of the news across the principal cultural divide of our day. We compare the stories about the conflict in Iraq from January through June of 2005. Three news organizations with different roots had the same story to tell in the spring of 2005. It was a story of unremitting violence at the hands of anti-US fighters and Iraqi self governing getting off to a slow and bumbling start. There were modest differences in focus. There was twice as much of everything at Aljazeera. BBC weighed news from Iraq as less important than did the other two. But broadly construed they told the same story.It was a bad news story at almost every turn, and an administration that desperately wanted good news. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had an explanation.US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told the BBC his country needs to do a "better job" at communicating its policies to the rest of the world. "I think the US is notably unskilful in our communications and our public diplomacy," he said in Washington. [BBC World June 15, 2005]It is just a public relations problem.A better interpretation would involve the first rule of political journalism: bad news trumps good news almost every time. Only patriotism in the face of extreme stress turns this rule off. News organizations that aspire to a global audience cannot practice patriotism.
BEER, FRANCIS A. and BOYNTON, G. ROBERT, "After the Second Iraq War: Bad News-Good News" (2005). Political Science Faculty Contributions. 15.