The world according to newspapers

Note from the creator of these maps: Colours indicate the same thing. However, a country can appear in red if it’s in the top 10% but still shrink, as the top 3 countries concentrate most of all media attention. Note from me: Clicking on those buttons launches hi-res images in their own windows.

As an American who now lives in London, but has worked for British media for just shy of 10 years, I have more than a passing interest in how the world sees the US and how my fellow Americans see (or fail to take much notice of) the rest of the world. After moving to London three years ago, things that I thought were particularly American characteristics I now see as part of human nature. I thought it was a particularly American problem, and particularly a problem of American media, to look inward. But all countries and the media that serve them do this to a certain extent.

We all see the world through our own cultural lenses. We all understand the world through our own place in it, centered in the culture we most identify with. That cultural centre might be a place, a country or a group of people. For instance, I see the world through the cultural lens of the global geek collective I feel a part of.

This visualisation was posted on Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog and was cross-posted from L’Observatoire des Médias by Nicolas Kayser-Bril. I found one of Nicolas’ comments on the Online Journalism Blog really interesting:

The model I’ve used shows that a country is less covered as it’s further away from London. Each 100km lead to a country’s getting 1.9 less articles per year in the Daily Mail, 2.3 in the Guardian (provided you take S Africa, ANZ out of the sample, they skew the data).

The publication most global in its coverage was The Economist. Their readers are often global citizens, moving from country to country with multi-national companies or for various branches of the United Nations. They need a quick overview of our increasingly globalised world.

I lived in Washington DC for more than seven years, and I’ve lived in London just shy of three years now. Capitals sit in a position above their countries and, relative to the power of the country, also above the rest of the world. It’s a privileged and often myopic view. It’s global in the sense that all roads lead to Rome. The media centered there cast their gaze around the world from this vantage point, and their gaze never falls far from their perch. However, it’s not just Africa that gets ignored but also less fashionable parts of their own countries.

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