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USA Today Online Essay

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FoxNews Online CNN headline News (TV) USA Today Online American news sources, compared to those based in other countries, have some unique characteristics. One of the most obvious is the lack of headlines regarding places outside America. When stories are related that center on foreign events, they are often framed in the context of how they might or have affected Americans. In non-American sources, such as the BBC, there is not a parallel nationalistic spin placed on the coverage of events, especially those in Western Europe.

Al Jazeera’s news is focused on the Muslim world. Its front page features no story that does not directly deal with some aspect of Islam and Islamic nations. While both the BBC and Al Jazeera had either the Blackwater Guards or the Guilty Plea of 9-11 hijackers as the top story, Fox news ran a feature about drug charge sentencing in America. USA Today, which is a news agency which caters to a less sophisticated audience, has as a lead headline a story about a study liking children’s health to industrial pollution.

It also seems that news that is relevant outside of America breaks more quickly on the foreign press sites than it does in the U. S. Sites. For example, the piece about the surrender of the Blackwater guards, which is a story about a US firm acting in Iraq, was posted on both BBC and Al Jazeera before being listed as a “breaking story” on Fox. While the news sources all seem to treat news stories without significant bias, the framing of headlines in certain cases tends to show the leanings of the editors in certain cases.

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For example, Fox News’ headline regarding the guilty plea of 9-11 suspects reads: “Accused 9-11 Plotters Seek ‘Martyrdom’ in Guilty Pleas”. In contrast to the foreign news agencies, whose headline reports only the fact of the pleas, Fox’s headline contains the alleged motivation expressed with quotation marks in a manner that suggests contempt. Fox also presents news about the Democratic Political party in a negative light. They headline one story “Iran rejects Obama’s Carrot and Stick Policy”. The story is a single paragraph recounting a minor Iranian official decrying a policy that hurts his own country.

Rather than merely reporting the fact, Fox frames this a a foreign policy failure of a President who has yet to be sworn into office. Interestingly, both the American News agencies and the BBC embed opinion pieces without identifying them as such. Of the news agencies reviewed, only Al Jazeera makes clear in every instance whether a piece is to be considered factual, or editorial. The editorial slant presented in the foreign news agencies tends to be more subtle. Both Al Jazeera and BBC reported the Pakistani raid on the organization thought to have engineered the recent attacks on Mumbai, India.

Al Jazeera claims that the camp that was raided was home to a charity group. The BBC claims that the group had been outlawed in 2002, and that it was “thought to be” a front for the terrorist organization being sought. One must be careful in reading any news source to determine how much of what is reported is fact, versus how much is opinion, speculation or un-sourced material. It is in these ways that opinions are subtly infused throughout all news coverage. A wise reader should be able to discern fact from opinion.

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