Nov 8, 2009

Inter(national) Reporting

In the article, “International Reporting-‘No Further than Columbus,’” author Kai Hefez defines international reporting as the journalistic coverage of realities outside the home state. Hefez makes the point very early on in the article that international reporting tends to reflect the interests and cultural values of the country doing the reporting instead of the country being reported on. International reporting also tends to “Otherize” the area and people being reported on.

The article takes its title from Meg Greenfield’s comment in the Washington Post about the American media’s lack of understanding of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the late 1970’s. She wrote that American media are ‘no further than Columbus’ who presumed early Native Americans were Indians, in breaking through cultural stereotypes and assumptions.

I feel that Hefez’s example of the Olympics really illustrated how world event coverage really becomes a nationalized event. It is especially obvious with the Olympics, because it is a competition between nations. In terms of television broadcast news, I think a lot of it has to do with the limited amount of prime time in which to air the coverage. It is impossible to give every nation equal time on every single event. Most Americans are rooting for the United States to win, the US games are aired during the times most Americans watch television. At the same time, I think a lot about culture could be learned by watching Swedish curling and Syrian handball (as boring as they may be).

I’m going a little off topic here, but I think that a nation’s popular sports say a lot about the culture. For example, American football, a comparatively violent sport, is huge in the US because we like to watch violence and spectacle. Football is rather expensive- the padding and equipment cost money. Professional football players in the NFL make huge amounts of money. We give full scholarships for students to play football and other sports. On the other hand, football (soccer) is the most widely played and watched popular sport in Central and South America. Soccer requires only a ball and two goals. Poorer nations gravitate towards soccer because it costs less and it is less involved with money.


  1. Hey Judy-
    Your last paragraph provides an interesting suggestion. I hadn't thought much about the economic relationship to sport popularity, especially in the UK, an obviously developed nation. Although I would definitely argue that this point is accurate in developing nations, I don't belive that this is the case in England or in many other European countries. For example, once a season the NFL plays a game overseas (the Patriots and Buccanneers just played in London) to promote international awareness and support. Thus, there is an increasing popularity and awareness for football in Europe, and I would argue that wealth plays a small role in determing European sports, but is still a substantial factor in Latin America.

  2. I think you did bring up an interesting point in regards to the popular countries of a sport and certain attributes of that country and its people. I have always been interested in why soccer is so huge in almost every country except for the US while football is so popular here but doesn't seem to be in many other places in the world (despite the fact that something like a billion people watch the Super Bowl). I wonder if it does have something to do with economics and the equipment required to play.
    However I was thinking about what the actual sport says about the country. Football is a very aggressive and violent sport and that does seem to say something about America and what we like to watch, but what about hockey and Canada? Hockey is probably the most popular sport in the country (with many kids learning to skate before they walk) and can be incredibly violent (the fights seem to be half the reason people watch). However Canada is generally thought of as a peaceful and not aggressive country. Does this mean they just happen to get all of their aggression out on the rink and don't have any left for each other or the rest of the world? Or is Canada an anomaly? Then again soccer is popular in many countries, some of which are violent and some of which are not. I like your theory, but I feel like there may be some other factors, possibly related to it, that are also influential.