A recent report by the Reuters Institute indicates that only 44% of Americans have an interest in international news. The figure is not far off from other countries, with 48% of Britons and 54% of French people expressing an interest in foreign news. These figures may be shocking to those paying close attention to the globalization debate, and particularly those who argue that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected because of globalization.
Given the data showing low interest in international news in this country and in others, an important question arises. Why is it so important to care about what is happening in other parts of the world? Why should one care if the events do not affect one’s daily life?
Certainly, the debate about globalization and increased interconnectedness posits a world in which local events are placed on the global map due to widespread access to the internet and the ease of transferring information. Access to these technologies does not guarantee an interested audience and, arguably, the people that seek international news are those that are interested in knowing about these events.
Junior Hanne Andersen said that her background has shaped her views on international news. Having a Danish father, she grew up watching and reading more European than American news. She said that she is disappointed by the American media’s sparse coverage of international news.
“The news covers the big things where a lot of people get killed or people are trampled in China. Those things are covered, but I feel that we don’t really keep track of the good progress in other countries, like the positive things that are going on instead of just the negative news so that it affects the views that people have on other countries,” she said.
Senior Gustavo Batista had this to offer: “I think it is important for people to know what is going on in the world, even if it’s just to be aware of what to think about. Also, it is good to be aware of international news [if you] are going to travel. You might not feel that the news is going to impact you on a day to day basis, but it can affect you in bigger ways that you won’t even notice.”
For Cameron Douglas, foreign news is one of those things that he has always been interested in. For him, there has never been a question about the significance of foreign news. He said, “Knowing about what is going on beyond our borders can help make people be more rounded.”
“I follow up with global events and stories to feel like I can talk with my friends intelligently and to feel like I know what’s going on in the world,” said Freshman Michael McClelland.
For most students interviewed, however, their efforts to seek foreign news are driven by the need to have an impact on a particular event or situation that is happening.
“In a political system that we have where we are expected to vote for the leaders who are going to be deciding on our behalf how we react to these issues, I think it is important to know what the issues are and [how] the people we are voting for are going to deal with them…it is a citizen responsibility in a way,” Douglas added.
Sophomore Taffiny Kablay added, “You have to be knowledgeable to make decisions. Especially if you want to make a change, it is nice to know where you can [make] an impact, because if you don’t know, how would you better other people?”
For some students like Andersen, the impact that individuals can have on an issue is too significant to be shoved aside. “I think it’s important for people to care because an atmosphere of thought can change, like when we did the ‘Principia loves Philippines’ project [a student project that raised money to support the victims of the typhoon that hit the Philippines in November 2013]. The whole school’s mindset about that situation shifted, and instead of being like, ‘that’s terrible,’ people were praying about the situation.”