July 7, 2011

Return of Foreign News?

U.S. International Foreign (non-U.S.)
2007 1st Half 25 10
2007 2nd Half 19 13
2008 1st Half 11 11
2008 2nd Half 11 10
2009 1st Half 15 11
2009 2nd Half 17 9
2010 1st Half 16 11
2010 2nd Half 14 10
2011 1st Half 19 20

2/3 – Portion of news devoted to international affairs in the first half of 2011

In the first half of 2011, foreign events dominated the U.S. news media. The protests and violence throughout the Middle East and North Africa—known as the Arab Spring—were the most covered foreign events, accounting for 17% of the overall newshole, from January 1-June 30. Other significant stories included the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan (5%) and the death of Osama bin Laden (4%), according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index.

Indeed, January-June 2011, international affairs have accounted for a full 39% of the U.S. newshole. This includes 19% which involve the U.S. and 20% that are not U.S.-related. This is 13% more than the average for each six-month period since 2007. International events have on average accounted fpr 26% of the newshole.

The only other six month period to come close was the first half of 2007 when attention to the Iraq War help to boost international coverage to 35%.

The period with the least amount of foreign news is the second half of 2008 when the 2008 Presidential Race kept journalists focused on the home front and international issues accounted for just 21%.

But in the last few weeks, attention to foreign issues is again decreasing. And with an approaching presidential election, it is highly likely the trend away from international news will continue.