The geography of foreign news on television: A comparative study of 17 countries

Jürgen Wilke, Christine Heimprecht, Akiba Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since the advent of television in the middle of the 20th century, news has been an essential ingredient in TV programming. Often these newscasts are the most heavily viewed programmes, and by and large they are the main source of information for many people. This is particularly true for news from other countries and regions in the world. This immense significance of TV news has made it an important field in communication research. The article presents a new study that is formed from a multinational project. The project investigated foreign TV news in 17 countries from five regions in the world: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States of America. The data of the content analysis in all these countries in 2008 contain over 17,500 news items. The analysis concentrates on 'news geography', a term that is used to describe the extent to which the countries of the planet are represented in TV news. The results show a complex, multifaceted picture of foreign news reporting in the world. This multifaceted picture demands multi-causal interpretation. Several factors are discussed, i.e. the types of countries, their political order and integration into the international system, trade, different degrees in political power, but also historical connections, cultural ties, etc. Principally, the foreign news outlet depends on the selection criteria of journalists. On the whole the findings seem to question the world's globalization, which is often taken for granted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-322
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Communication Gazette
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Content analysis
  • foreign news
  • international communication
  • news geography
  • news selection


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