How We Are Informed About The World
Dr. Mila Zlatic, Tatiana Loboda, Joyanna Priest, Jamie Whitacre.
With the increasing availability of information questions remain: Are we adequately informed about the world around us? In the fall 2003, the Political Geography class at University of Maryland at College Park was assigned a task to collect and analyze information presented in two major US newspapers - The New York Times and The Washington Post. The main objective was to determine how these newspapers inform the public about the regions and/or countries of the world. The world was divided into seven geographical regions: Africa, Asia, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, Middle East; and countries/territories not included in any other region. In addition, appearance of the International Organizations in the press was recorded. In the six week period, from September 16 to October 26, foreign countries were mentioned 2664 times in the two papers. Furthermore, the International Organizations dealing with regions and countries of the world were mentioned 267 times. The distribution of coverage by the eight regions was uneven. Moreover, only five countries (Iraq, Israel, the United Kingdom, Japan and Russia) accounted for 41 percent of the world news coverage. All the articles were grouped into four topic categories: foreign policy and politics; military and security; economics; and other issues (e.g. culture, crime, environment, entertainment, health, sport, etc.). Besides, appearance of an article on the front page carries a special importance in its influence on a reader’s interest and knowledge of the events in the world. Although the share of regional coverage on the front page is similar to the proportion of total news coverage by a region, the distribution by topic within a region on the front page is radically different. The overall dominance on the front page of “military and security” and “foreign policy and politics” issues is characteristic to all regions. From the analysis of the media coverage of the world, we could conclude that the information in the media largely ignores regions/countries and the topics that are not directly related to the United States interest. In general, the population of the United States has limited information and distorted view about the world through the media.
Dr. Mila Zlatic (United States)
University of Maryland
Dr. Mila Zlatic is a social-urban geographer with more than 25 years of experience in urban development. Educated in the US, at UC Berkeley, and in former Yugoslavia, Dr. Zlatic has worked on social and urban issues in numerous countries in Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. She has been a consultant for the World Bank, US AID, and the UN. She has taught graduate and undergraduate level courses at the New York University (NYU), George Mason University, the University of the District of Columbia, and is currently teaching at the University of Maryland, Geography Department.
Tatiana Loboda (United States)
Joyanna Priest (United States)
Jamie Whitacre (United States)
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)