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Why Don't People Read Newspapers from Other Countries?
December 4, 2001 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Why Don't People Read Newspapers from Other Countries? The early promise of the Web was that it would create a smaller world. Yet, most individuals read their local newspaper or their favorite national newspaper online. For example, most people I speak to are surprised that there are English newspapers in Pakistan- there are at least two good ones- Dawn and The Friday Times. I see a lot of posts on MeFi from UK papers such as The Guardian and also from Australian papers. How about the English newspapers from the rest of the world? Have we stopped browsing?
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy (45 comments total)

 
El Pais (Spain) has a good English edition, but it's a PDF.
posted by Zootoon at 10:13 AM on December 4, 2001


I hit the Moscow Times daily.
posted by mischief at 10:32 AM on December 4, 2001


By "people" do you mean English-speaking people? It doesn't hurt to learn new languages, there are lots of foreign newspapers and tv stations that that just don't happen to be in English.
posted by panopticon at 10:38 AM on December 4, 2001


The linkerrific Carol Anne posted something about Global Spin awhile back and I follow the Peshawar New Frontier Post...

although they're not up today... printing press burnt?
posted by y2karl at 10:38 AM on December 4, 2001


There's no good reason for most people to read random newspapers from random countries.

Big news will be covered by the wires and respectible American papers in no time--usually with a higher degree of accuracy.

Why do you read foreign newspapers, SandeepKrishnamurthy?
posted by Witold at 10:46 AM on December 4, 2001


I run an English-language blog on Greek-Turkish relations (plug!). When we started, a coupla years ago, the premise of linking to and talking about english-language news from the "other" side (Greek news for Turks, and vice-versa) sounded like a damn good idea.

Instead, we've found that more people link to (and pay attention to) US or UK media.

I can think of a couple of reasons:

a) Language itself. Most english versions of Greek or Turkish news sources are very badly written (this maybe less true for Indian or Pakistani sources, where the familiarity with English is higher, almost a necessity). People who chose to read news or discussion in English are familiar enough with the language to demand a better quality of writing.

b) bias: this maybe less true in cases where there is less controversy than Greek-Turkish relations, but the national bias in reporting shows and it's annoying. I should point out that English-language editions of the same paper (e.g. a Greek paper in my case) will be sometimes more biased than the native-tongue one, as it's perceived by the (otherwise independent) paper to be the one "facing the outside" and thus having to walk the foreign policy line. There are exceptions of course.

c) It could just be that other countries are just now catching up to the technologies required to have an attractive site online --there isn't a single Greek newspaper online that has a user friendly website: they are either too basic or too overloaded; that's so 1998...

d) Integration with all the meta-tools. Yahoo or MSN or Blogdex or Metafilter even are less likely to spider or link to any of the websites from the "margin" of the Internet --or rather "their" internet... the net looks like more of a network of "islands" of sites cross-linking to each other than a real uniform network.
posted by costas at 10:50 AM on December 4, 2001


Try PaperMundo which is a portal to newspapers from around the world. You can search through them, browse current topics in the news as well as save your favorites to your "main page."
posted by matte at 10:50 AM on December 4, 2001


Witold,

Reasons-

1. I enjoy different perspectives. e.g. One sees the impact of an event on another country.
2. I like to follow the major issues in other countries. e.g. Their political debates.
3. I like to learn about their cultural schemas/assumption maps and this is good for that.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy at 10:51 AM on December 4, 2001


(This thread from a couple of months ago has some good suggestions...)
posted by ceiriog at 10:51 AM on December 4, 2001


Why do people assume that others don't read newspapers from other countries? In my Daily Periodicals bookmark folder alone I've got 180 publications; it reads like the UN membership if you leave out the US publications: Afgha (Afghan Resistance), Afghan News Network, Africa Online, Main, Africa Online, Ghana, Aftenposten (Norway), Arab News, Bahrain Tribune, Bangkok Post, Belfast Telegraph, Budapest Sun, CBC (Canada), Central European Review, etc. There are at least 600 other publications in my other "Reading" bookmark folders. Now, I don't hit all of them daily, but I open five or six at a time when I have a few minutes to spare or want a break from my current work (or when, say, I actually update my weblog).

One problem with the site you linked to and others like it is that they don't make distinctions for quality, they often include outdated links and sometimes there's little real news to be had there: maybe just a subscription form, or some news from 1996, or a few government press releases, or a tourism brochure. I weed those out when I can.

Now to answer your real question: Have we stopped browsing? Well, we've stopped being impressed by well-designed but meatless trifles. And we've begun to rely more on threads like this for new reading ideas. That said, here're the rest of those International media outlets. (Note: I'm aware of the dearth of South and Central American English-language papers; I'm working on finding more, but there really aren't *that* many out there).

Costa Blanca News (Spain), Daily Chosun (Korea), Daily News from Iceland, Daily Record (UK), Daily Star (Lebanon), Dawn (Pakistan), Debka File (Israel), Deccan Herald (India), Eastern Daily Press (UK), eKathimerini (Greece), Electronic Intifada, Fiji Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frontier Post (Pakistan), Galway Advertiser (Ireland), Granma (Cuba), Guardian Unlimited, Gulf News (Dubai), Haaretz, Hispanic Vista, Hong Kong iMail, Independent (UK), Independent Online (South Africa), India Post, Indian Express, Interfax (Russia), Iraqi Papers, Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Times, Israel Insider, Japan Times, Jerusalem Post, Kakaki, News of Niger, Kenya Daily Nation, Khilafah, Kiev Post, Korean Herald, Kyodo News, London Telegraph, London Times, Mainichi Daily News, Malaysian Star, Middle East Times, MMEGi (Botswana), Montreal Gazette, Moscow Times, Nation (Pakistan), National Post (Canada), National Post Commentary (Canada), Navhind Times, New Zealand Herald, Newindpress (South India), Norway Post, Outlook India, Palestinian Times, Pattaya Mail (Thailand), Prague Post, Pravda, RTÉ News Online, Russia Journal, Samoa News, Shanghai Star, Slovak Spectator, South Africa Daily Mail and Guardian, Sri Lankan Daily News/Observer, St. Petersburg Times (Russia), Star (Jordan), SUR in English (Spain), Sydney Morning Herald, Tehelka (India), Tehran Times, Telegraph India, The Age (Australia), The Australian, The Friday Times (Pakistan), The Globe and Mail, The Mirror (UK), The Statesman (India), The Sunday Mirror, This Day (Nigeria), This is London, Times of Central Asia, Times of India, Tokyo Weekly, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Turkey Update, Turkish Daily News, Vanguard (Nigeria), Vietnam News, Vladivostok News, Warsaw Voice, Yomiuri.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:56 AM on December 4, 2001 [1 favorite]


Mo, Costas and others,

I am very impressed. I had been to your site, Mo. I think I saw a link at kottke.org. Both of you are wonderful exceptions to my observation. I was basing it on college students I interact with.

I think explorers are a dying breed. Most people that I meet(need a new life?) stick to brands they trust both nationally(e.g. CNN.com, NYTimes.com) and locally (e.g. Seattle Times, LA Times).

Returns to Mo's newspaper list....
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy at 11:05 AM on December 4, 2001


(This thread from a couple of months ago has some good suggestions...)

Including this scary one from Tamim: Then there is always The McLaughlin Group, FARK and Pravda.

Oh, no!

Mo Nickels
Mo Nickels
Mo Nickels
is showing off!


posted by y2karl at 11:06 AM on December 4, 2001


panopticon: American journalism is a dialect. You get used to reading news in a certain way - with a lot of hyphenated words ("much-troubled"), phrases like "chilling effect," headlinese ("movie wins kudos for . . ."), etc. You don't hear people talking this way in everyday conversation. Journalism uses this sort of specialized and shorthand language in every nation. So reading newspapers in a foreign language is akin to learning a whole new language, which wouldn't seem to help you to learn the particular language from which it came. You'll learn only how other nations get their news, which has something to say for it, but . . .
posted by raysmj at 11:08 AM on December 4, 2001


Witold-
"There's no good reason for most people to read random newspapers from random countries.

Big news will be covered by the wires and respectible American papers in no time--usually with a higher degree of accuracy.

Why do you read foreign newspapers, SandeepKrishnamurthy?"

Wow, was that satire? Or do I hear my favorite dead senator rearing his ugly head?
posted by das_2099 at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2001


International Herald Tribune and the Economist. Every day.
posted by UncleFes at 11:13 AM on December 4, 2001


By the way, it is interesting to see the hold of wire services across the world. Have you noticed how many foreign news sources cite Reuters or AP?
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy at 11:13 AM on December 4, 2001


Buy American! We rule. We are #1. If you can't read American stop being an American.
posted by Postroad at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2001


Here's an example of a newspaper headline written in quote-unquote English, from today's Washington Post. (It's the top headline online, actually.) How often do you talk this way? "I think Arafat is having 'a message' sent to him. The embattled leader, however, has had rivals rally to support him." Imagine trying to learn an entire language through that sort of writing.

Israeli Attacks Send Message to Arafat
(Subhead) Palestinian Rivals Rally to Support Embattled Leader
posted by raysmj at 11:20 AM on December 4, 2001


Witold: Big news will be covered by the wires and respectible American papers in no time--usually with a higher degree of accuracy.

Wow! I never thought of that.

Shudder. I hope I never think of it again.

There are other points of view in the world on the same news.

It is very instructive to seek out local or related coverage of news events to see how they are seen from a different perspective than that presented by the international news gathering organizations.

I just wish I spoke a dozen more languages.
posted by Geo at 11:21 AM on December 4, 2001


usually with a higher degree of accuracy
Witold, is that your pride speaking, or can you back that up? I suspect that American papers can report American news more accurately than other countries, but not foreign news.
posted by iain at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2001


For what its worth (not much) my experience is a neverending mish-mash between cycles, topics, and breaking news with US, UK, and "foreign" news sources.

Cycles:I start with one single news source every day. I then start adding based on others'recommendations (like from this thread) until I have so many after a few weeks , I become fed up and go back to the single one that is my favorite (sometimes the same one as when the cycle began, other times the new discovery) and the cycle begins all over again.

Topics: As new topics become interesting (Islamic Terrorism, US Political Intrigue, World Cup Soccer, etc) I will read groups of news sources that do a good job covering the topics, which then I throw out when I lose interest.

Breaking News: Race to many different news sources from all over to discover if they have something more to add.

When all is said and done, its a random run around the world.
posted by Voyageman at 11:26 AM on December 4, 2001


I read several New Zealand news sites daily, The Evening Post/The Dominion and One News. I also read CNN and Ananova. However, I find that New Zealand news sites have far better coverage of world events, far, far better than CNN. It seems to me that "world news" by American standards is just about the US bombing Afghanistan.
posted by animoller at 11:32 AM on December 4, 2001


Man, I just wish I had time to browse all of my Sunday paper! Maybe I just read too slow...
posted by groundhog at 11:37 AM on December 4, 2001


http://www.thepaperboy.com.au/welcome.html

this site is called Paperboy. It will give you access daily to over 5 thousand papers from around the world, by country, subject etc.
posted by Postroad at 11:44 AM on December 4, 2001


There's no good reason for most people to read random newspapers from random countries.

Maybe it has to do with their colonial pasts, but European news pays a lot more attention to the world, particularly Africa and Asia. You get a better sense of the "globe". I can't watch the evening news on TV anymore, too often they just ignore entire continents, as if nothing important happened there. Things in Europe are different than the states: there is a stronger interest in labor and the environment. and the politics on the whole are more left, and it's reflected in their coverage and their editorials.
posted by panopticon at 11:48 AM on December 4, 2001


The news I read from many sources outside the US tends to be far better, with a wider range of perspectives and more depth, generally. In the case of the big US papers like NYT, etc., there's a generally better coverage of foreign issues than in say, the Lakeland Ledger, but comes nowhere as close to the two characteristics I noted above. For example, the US has the absolute worst press (except for the Middle East in general) to learn about the complexity and true mess that has been ongoing in the Israel/Palestine and who is responsible for what. Le Monde is a fantastic paper as well for those that read French; Le Monde Diplomatique, the monthly, rocks the hell out of any other current monthly publication in terms of extraordinary journalism. El Pais is pretty good for those who read Spanish, although it was much better years ago.

That said, don't the majority of north americans get their news via TV anyway? I remember the local papers having a much larger sports section than the international/national news.

Agence France Presse is a pretty big wire service as well, btw.
posted by mmarcos at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2001


Wanna talk about the root question? To wit: why do American papers cover the world poorly? I know the easy answer is arrogance, isolated geography and a rather entrenched leadership position in world affairs. But is that all of it?
posted by UncleFes at 12:10 PM on December 4, 2001


I thought the root question was "why don't people read news from other countries?" and not "why do American papers cover the world poorly?" I could be wrong though.

Witold" "...respectible American papers in no time--usually with a higher degree of accuracy."

There's blind faith for ya.

Here's yet another example where generalities don't work. And don't git me wrong. I love generalities. I use them all the time. It's part of what gets me in trouble.

Americans are ignorant, nationalistic, ethnocentric, and very biased. Sound familiar? This is how most of the world seems to perceive us as a whole. Truthfully, it's millions of individuals, and the majority happens to just be either lazy, or too busy day to day to read the same news from many different sources. It's part of what makes MeFi so useful - it allows a variety of people from all over the world to share their differing views among a host of topics. However, a very small minority of America even knows MeFi exists. Most would choose to watch Springer reruns over reading this place. Again, yet another generality. Your Mileage Will No Doubt Vary.

Personally, I only venture out to news of other countries (or any news for that matter) if 1) it's interesting to my own amusement and I have strange tastes, or 2) because the news is going to potentially affect me or those I love in some way. I have a friend in the armed forces, and when she said she might be going over there, my interest went past the first choice and into the second. She still doesn't know yet, or perhaps she's not telling me. Either way, this could effect me directly and as I'm admittedly very egocentric, that's what pulls my interest.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:16 PM on December 4, 2001


I thought the root question was "why don't people read news from other countries?" and not "why do American papers cover the world poorly?"

Isn't the latter the cause of the former? If coverage were better and more prevalent, wouldn't we then be reading news from other countries?
posted by UncleFes at 12:22 PM on December 4, 2001


Back in college I used to stumble my way thru Die Welt, but that was a loooong time ago and my Deutsch has gotten pretty rusty with disuse. I remember being just fluent enough to appreciate (I started to write "enjoy" but that's not the right word for how I felt about it) their coverage of the Reagan administration bombing Libya. Now, with the miracle of the Internet and machine translation, I can sorta kinda read it in extremely machine-denatured English via Google's "translate this page" feature.
posted by alumshubby at 12:27 PM on December 4, 2001


why do American papers cover the world poorly? ... But is that all of it?
How about sheer size? The US is so big that news from the next state is almost foreign news...
posted by imh at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2001


Mo Nickels
Mo Nickels
Mo Nickels
is showing off!


Okay, caught me, but I'm not done yet. Here are the other 600 links in my "Reading" bookmarks folder...
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2001


I follow more news sources from more places than I can keep up with. My favorite of the week is Paknews, an English language news service founded by a Pakistani expat based in Sunnyvale, CA. Be sure and check out the discussion forum and the arguments going on between Americans, Pakistanis, Pakistanis in America, and others.

You just have to either laugh, or cry.
posted by Scorch at 12:46 PM on December 4, 2001


To wit: why do American papers cover the world poorly? I know the easy answer is arrogance, isolated geography and a rather entrenched leadership position in world affairs. But is that all of it?

Nope. At least at small papers like the one I work for, part of it comes down to money. Businesses are advertising less, so the papers and their newsholes (no, those are *not* the reporters the rest of us don't like) are shrinking. That shrinkage eats into our coverage of international and, to a lesser extent, national news. Our wire editor is constantly frustrated about all the interesting nonlocal stories that come over the wires that will never see the light of day in our paper, simply because we have nowhere to put them.

For what it's worth, I enjoy the Web sites of El Pais and Reforma. That's mostly because I'm learning Spanish (yeah, alum, those machine translations come in handy, even if they're far from perfect), but the Reforma site is where I picked up the *huge* story of Madonna's long-unsuccessful search for The Right Man.

American journalism is a dialect. ... You don't hear people talking this way in everyday conversation.

Solons of the journalism community are considering holding a top-level parley to look at this stilted-and-somtimes-nearly-unreadable-language issue, although many captains of the news industry are said not to believe a problem exists.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:48 PM on December 4, 2001


i think people not from the US in general are more likely to read news papers foreign to their country of origin. for different reasons among them, but more likely nonetheless.

news wires may have their clutches worldwide, but the more versions of the same story one reads, the more distinguishable repeating and differing elements are, thus deducing, if not absolute facts, at least how everyone feels about it.
posted by elle at 1:45 PM on December 4, 2001


. Yet, most individuals read their local newspaper or their favorite national newspaper online.

And most people have Mefi set for "My Comments," Right?

I read LeMonde and Liberation, and hear the BBC. Also, the Paramus Mall Daily World Courrier Gazette. I was hoping that Mefi might take me beyond that...
posted by ParisParamus at 1:47 PM on December 4, 2001


Why would I want to read other newspapers when ours have such great stories about Kitties?
posted by Catch at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2001


UncleFes: "Isn't the latter the cause of the former?"

Only if you live in America.

"If coverage were better and more prevalent, wouldn't we then be reading news from other countries?"

I didn't take the question wholly ethnocentrically, I offered my admittedly limited perspective in my own response because I'm ethnocentric by definition.

But okay. I'll bite.

If American news media covered the world better, we Americans theoretically wouldn't need to read other country's newspapers. Reporters would read all those other papers for us, and give us a proper summary. Indeed, that's part of their job, but I don't think that's entirely what happens.

If a reporter's in Afghanistan, he's spending most of his time negotiating with locals in order to get whatever he wants accomplished for the video feed (or talking his way in and out of being faced with guns pointed at his head), and not enough time just listening to the locals, or reading their newsstands, if there's any left over there. The focus isn't new knowledge, but getting "a" story. It doesn't even have to be "the" story. Just enough footage to send back to the network so he can verify his paycheck for the week.

Newspapers are the same way. The goal for a reporter is to fill the space with inches of text. Not quality information. Unless things have changed, I bet they still get paid by the inch.

Now it'd be nice to assume that Geraldo Rivera, sitting there in Afghanistan, is reading the local papers there and incorporating that into his reports, but he's too busy patting himself on the back for being so cool. I saw his recent report about him going through some secret passage the Northern Alliance was showing him.

He had all these locals lugging his satelite equiptment up and down the passage, then he paid them "what amounts to a week's wages for one night's work. But we marked their hands with a marker so they wouldn't come back for seconds." Thanks for telling me that, Geraldo. That'll definitely improve my knowledge of what's happening there. You're treating your visit there to people who have no idea who you are as if you were both the bouncer and the headliner at a nightclub.

Meanwhile he's not telling the viewing audience anything of substance. So, the locals know their way around the rocks. Big deal. The way he ended the report was to inform the audience that he'd done a lot of crazy things in his life, and climbing around some rocks late at night in a war-torn land was definitely in the top ten for him. Nothing of substance. It was like his own personal episode of Survivor 3. An elaborate "HI MOM" back to the States. Thanks Geraldo for nothing.

It's not that American media (or any democratic media for that matter) is ethnocentric -- It's EGOcentric.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:36 PM on December 4, 2001


Here's one reason: we don't care.

Looking at the news, you see "dumb politicians not doing anything in Washington", "some warlord or something in some country in Africa is doing something", "France is upset about something".

The average Joe Blow on the street wants this from his newspaper: "is anyone being killed where I live?", "what is the state of my stocks/401k?", "how did my sports team do?", "an entertaining story about kitties is requested".

I'm not saying its right, but most care about the news affecting them in some way. The rest of the world outside of your neighborhood basically seems out of your control and a waste of time to worry about. As in "yes, warlord X is obviously bad but I have a mortgage to worry about and a soccer game for my son/daughter to attend".
posted by owillis at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2001


SandeepKrishnamurthy:
Why Don't People Read Newspapers from Other Countries? ... I see a lot of posts on MeFi from UK papers such as The Guardian and also from Australian papers. How about the English newspapers from the rest of the world? Have we stopped browsing?
The debate over media sources is nothing new at MeFi. I myself asked this during the China-EP3 incident. But I am disturbed by the condescending nature of SandeepKrishnamurthy's assessment of MeFi membership.

Members here have always linked to appropriate items from all over the world when the discussion in the thread merited it. I have in the past linked to two German magazines and a TV program1; and three articles from Athens News about Pope's historic visit to Greece2. In April 2001, long before everyone else on MeFi became Afghan experts, I linked to Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)'s website that had the disturbing videos of the public executions3. I should credit Andrew Cooke for peaking my curiosity about this issue. I linked to both sides of the Sri Lankan conflict a few months before the Tamils blew up planes at Colombo airport. I even linked to a small selection of good local coverage by MeFi members from all over the world.

I linked to Secret Santa programs in four cities spanning nearly a third of the Eastern seaboard, and Canada, and charities covering all major faiths with a holiday this month. That was a pretty extensive population/geographic coverage. I had hoped others would find (and link to) something near their home to share the joy this holiday season. But alas, the thread was hijacked by cultural theologians and charity auditors.

Anyhow, at appropriate threads, Pakistan's Dawn has been linked to at MeFi before: 1/2/3/4/5/6. So was Jung and The Times of India. Seeing that no one has pointed it out, this is the working URL for The Friday Times.

y2karl:
Including this scary one from Tamim: Then there is always The McLaughlin Group, FARK and Pravda.

Oh, no!
Heehee. Seeing that I linked to White House press releases, Rush Limbaugh, Christian Broadcasting Network and Al Jazeera along with TMG, FARK and Pravda, I regret not linking my daily source of breaking news, the Free Republic. And where else besides FARK can you find breaking news and standing count of death penalty executions from every corner of the world?
posted by tamim at 5:51 PM on December 4, 2001


I've worked at English-language newspapers here in Taiwan for a time, and I can say that, while we have a much smaller pool of qualified personnel to choose from, there is no replacing the perspective that comes from actually being here.

We currently have three English-language newspapers, but two are currently controlled by political groups and the other is relatively independent but struggling to maintain a professional level of print quality and copyediting.

So it's really a trade off between the advantage of perspective and the possibility of poorer quality in general.
posted by Poagao at 6:58 PM on December 4, 2001


Poagao,

You misunderstood me. My comments were about the average online user, really. I have been and continue to be impressed with the exceptional people at MeFi(e.g. you, Mo Nickels, Matt). I am a huge fan. It is my default page.

I intended my comments to spark conversation(as it clearly has), not to act condescendingly.

MeFi continues to amaze AND teach me.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy at 8:46 PM on December 4, 2001


I meant to address my comments to Tamim.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy at 8:49 PM on December 4, 2001


Why would I want to read other newspapers when ours have such great stories about Kitties?

Hmm... kitties....


posted by y2karl at 9:18 PM on December 4, 2001


Well, in that case I will have to wonder along with you at the lack of interest by Americans in general at the world outside their borders.
posted by Poagao at 12:20 AM on December 5, 2001


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