Lange: Why is the US so self-centered?


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Opinion: US Media Outlets

Shannon Lange

With the spectacular end to the Olympics we also notice a decline in how much international affairs are covered in American news media. Even during the games, I only heard about non-American competitors when they were strong contenders for a medal. Looking over various foreign (mainly French) newspapers and media, such as Le Monde, it seems apparent just how in tune other countries are to U.S. affairs.

I was reading a French newspaper a few days ago, and found it had a full two-page story on Romney’s vice presidential pick. The drought across the Midwest made Swiss news as well. There are sections daily in Le Monde about the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

During my French classes, professors ask what’s happening in the news in France, and there is hardly ever an answer, because nobody ever really knows without specifically looking.

The only times that U.S. new media covers international affairs is during controversial elections, devastating disasters, violence and either the Summer or Winter Olympics.

I have learned through talking to friends who live outside the United States they hear about U.S. news on a fairly regular basis, particularly presidential elections. Not only do they follow our political news, some are shocked by how politics work in the United States when compared to European countries. Speaking with visiting French friends gave me an interesting insight as to how different our cultures truly are. They found it fairly amazing that the political ads here could be so aggressive.

This works the same for Canada: we don’t hear what is happening within their country, despite the fact it is our northern neighbor.

International news plays a very large role in how decisions are made. We see this being especially true with the varying situations in the Middle East; everyday there is an update of what has happened and what is being planned or has been done. I feel that if current events, political or social, were more known by Americans, tolerance for people who are “different” would be higher. As it is, looking at large newspapers shows major headlines for international affairs, as do sites like Google News. With the advancements of technology, the world has become almost completely interconnected. We can talk to people across the globe on the phone or on Skype. It feels as important to know what’s happening in places that loved ones live in or plan to visit as it does to hear from your hometown.

Some people will disagree and say those countries choose to follow the news of the United States and set us as an example for their political and social ideals. I have to disagree with this argument, as it has always been some of the larger European cities that have lead the way, namely in subjects such as fashion. If other countries looked to the United States as an example of their ideals, much more of the world would have similar political battles, economic crises, and diplomatic powers.

It is my opinion that if they look upon our behavior as a country, it may be to help show our problems in comparison to what the problems of the country may be, and act as an aide to finding a solution before it becomes worse.