When it comes to knowledge of foreign news, I consider myself a bit abnormal. I can honestly say that I know more about foreign news then I do about local news. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. I try to read the news about my hometown of Fresno, California, but quite frankly, it’s depressing. I don’t want to read about homicides, gangs, robberies and high unemployment rates in the Central Valley. I’d much rather read about the political turmoil of other countries than my own. You don’t have to say it, I know – I’m odd.
The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey during the height of the protests in Egypt. While the protests in Egypt accounted for 56 percent of the news coverage, only 32 percent of people said that they followed the stories closely. This was interesting to me because this protests had all the makings of a drama movie written all over it. People fought, people were injured and hundreds even died, and perhaps most importantly, the people of Egypt were able to force their president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down from office.
The Pew Research Center notes that while the amount of people who followed the story closely was relatively high for a foreign story that does not include something that the U.S. is directly involved in, it still lags behind some of the other foreign stories that Americans followed closely. The stories that we followed the most closely were the 2010 stories of the Haiti earthquake (57 percent of people claimed to have followed this story closely) and the Chilean miners (40 percent of people say they followed this story). 34 percent of people paid close attention to the Somali pirate story in April 2009, next came the protest of Egypt.
The list, which you can view here, shows the top 16 most followed stories over the last four years. One of the things that is most notable is that all of these stories include a tragedy of some sort. None of stories are happy, fun stories, and most stories don’t have any effect on the United States.
Another notable point that is made in the article is that many Americans found the problems in Egypt too difficult to understand and follow, and in general, people were more concerned with what was happening in the U.S. than they were about what was happening in Egypt. This leaves me wondering how much time and effort people put into reading about the protests, because I personally, found it easy to follow and understand.
When it really comes down to it, a person can’t know what’s going on in every country at all times, but they can make an effort to pick some things that interest them, and do what they can to follow those stories. If you feel that you might be interested in keeping up with foreign news there are several good sources around the Internet that are easy to find and navigate through. BBC and Foreign Affairs are both good, as well as The New York Times and the Washington Post.
– Amy Block