Friday, May 4, 2012

U.S. media's disinterest in all things foreign provide opening for International news outlets

It is almost a cliché about the American news media: it just isn't interested in International news unless it involves celebrities or drug cartels. This week, in particular, is proving the cliché to be based in fact as the major U.S. almost completely ignore the incredibly important, and in many ways dramatic, election races being held in many European countries.

Last night U.K. citizens voted in local elections that have turned upside down the balance of power. The Labour Party, which took a beating just a few years ago, reversed itself and reclaimed many local government councils. "Labour have now won so many seats," The Guardian's live blog reported this morning, "that the number (1,404, since you ask) is having trouble fitting into its box in our graphic."

UK election results can in
so late last night that few papers
could lead with the results.

Partially this can be blamed on the U.S.'s own Presidential campaigns – but those are proving to be without much drama as the nominees are already known.

But this Sunday (or maybe it should read "Monday") will prove to be especially a challenge as both France and Greece go to the polls. In France François Hollande, the Socialist, is widely expected to defeat the sitting president, Nicolas Sarkozy in the runoff election. Even the expected result is news worthy, the unexpected result would be a head scratcher. One seriously doubts the U.S. media would be able to make much sense of that.

But the Greek election is where the media will be most tested. There, no party is expected to get more than, say, 25 percent of the vote. But Greece's strange election laws, which award 50 seats to the party that gets the most votes no matter how poor their performance, will only add more complexity to an already complicated story. Will the news center on the performance of the major parties, the rise of the far right, or the combine opposition to austerity measures? Even the Greek media, if judged by news websites, are having difficulty sorting it all out.

Gannett's USA Today website is totally oblivious to news abroad. It combines national and world news into one category (I find it hard to even type that without breaking out in laughter).

The New York Times, meanwhile, can take its eyes off of the picture of future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera writhing in pain – I suppose that can be excused. It is leading with the jobs numbers, which weren't good. Far down the home page is a headline about last night's UK election results.

And so an opening is created for those news organizations that can see beyond their noses. The Guardian's U.S. news site, for instance, has a piece on Sunday's French election – not leading, as it probably shouldn't, but right there in plain view. Not surprisingly, Al Jazeera English, which is always about world news, has plenty on events outside the U.S.