I’m really optimistic about Africa, but what about Natalee?

January 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image of rebels in Chad as they approach the capital from al-Jazeera.)

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no fucking clue what is happening in Chad or Kenya. But I do know that al-Jazeera delivers a constant stream of breaking news from the ground, and these stories are never buried and always at the top of the page. This leads me to believe that al-Jazeera places a great deal of importance on what is happening in Africa. I think this is a reflection of al-Jazeera’s more global take on news. Of course, Arab-related issues will always take precedence, but it is rare that any issue of truly global importance will be overlooked.

I don’t recall the last time I looked at CNN’s home page and saw a story on Mauritania, but there’s a story on Mauritania nearly every day on al-Jazeera. Do I read these stories? Not all the time, but I do appreciate a more encompassing news approach.

I went to the “World” or “International” news pages of several English-language and Arabic-language news sites to see how these outlets define “Global.” The top stories are:
English

Fox News: Aruba (1); Al-Qaeda (1, not a geographic area, but according to Fox it is); Turkey (1); Great Britiain (4)

CNN: Kenya (1); Turkey (1); Afghanistan (1); China (1). Their international page allots three stories for every region, but these are the top stories separate from this section. And apparently an explosion at a fireworks factory in Turkey is enough to be top news on Fox, CNN, and the NY Times.

NY Times: Kenya (1); Israel (1); Canada/Kazakhstan (1); Turkey (1); China (2); Afghanistan (1)

Arabic

Al-Jazeera: Kenya (2); Chad (1); Sudan (1); Pakistan (1); Afghanistan (1); US (1); Malaysia (1) — Note: The “Arab” news, including Iraq, is separate from the “International” news. On the Arab news page, here is the breakdown: Gaza/Egypt (2); Iraq (1); Lebanon (1).

Al-Arabiya: Iraq (1); Palestine (1); Saudi (1); Syria (1); Afghanistan (1). There is no international page, so these are the main stories.

What is the central difference between the English-language and Arabic-language news sources’ concepts of international news? Apparently, Iraq is a total non-issue in the Western-language coverage. Not one Iraq story was at the top of the page (or really, anywhere on the page) in any of the Western news sources I checked.

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