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And, yes, I DO take it personally: What percent of the world's population AREN'T the major news organizations interested in...? Would you believe HALF...?
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Friday, November 27, 2009

What percent of the world's population AREN'T the major news organizations interested in...? Would you believe HALF...?

from the europe blog post by hamish macdonald on al jazeera...
I was recently passed this link by John Owen at London's City University journalism school and thought it might be of interest to others.

The 'Hum News' posting considers what it calls the "Geographic Gap" of the contemporary news environment. That is, world news is covered by a very small number of news organisations and those organisations choose to only cover a small portion of the world's news. I know it sounds like a riddle, but it is the reality of international news.

Although there is now a proliferation of news outlets, particularly online, there are in fact fewer reliable, independent organisations actually gathering the information and delivering it in a balanced fashion.

Hum News points out that while there are 237 countries or territories in the world, the four biggest news organisations only report from 121 countries. This means there are 116 countries not covered. By Hum's calculations that is:

"almost half the world, and 4 billion people"

Of course, it would be foolish for us to expect that news organisations cover every single thing that happens everywhere in the world. But just how important are the 116 countries not covered by the big news organisations?

from juan cole...
63 of these ignored countries and territories are desperately poor.

All this has security implications for the United States. What do you want to bet that in the late 1990s, Afghanistan was in the 116? Hard to know an attack was being planned out there if you don't know the place exists.

What HUM does not say is that the ignoring of the 116 comes from the news corporations' profit motive, which is increasingly driving them to ignore most real news in favor of infotainment. Desperately poor 4th world countries? Not entertaining.

professor cole also points out that those four news organizations supply the world with 90% of its news... he also notes this about al jazeera...
Aljazeera's model, being backed by the Qatar Foundation, may be one of the few ways out of this information gap. Aljazeera English does a better job covering subsaharan Africa and Latin American than any other Anglophone news service, and they pay attention to the poor and working people.

the times i've had the opportunity to watch al jazeera, i confess to being quite impressed with both the depth and the breadth of its news coverage... sure, like every news organization, it has its spin, but, overall, it's remarkably objective... i've learned things from al jazeera about what's going in the rest of the world i would never have learned otherwise...

keep in mind that virtually all of al jazeera's news clips are posted on its youtube site here...

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