International News on the Internet: Why More Is Less

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International News on the Internet: Why more is less
Chris Paterson

This study examines the intersection of news agency political economy and cyberspace information exchange between 2001 and 2006 in an effort to determine if online news has corrected – or replicated – the inequities and limitations of the international journalism provided by ‘traditional media’. Through comparisons of content at major online news sites and the output of major news wholesalers, this research is the first to demonstrate that the international news most online users consult is that of just two news agencies. This research finds an online news environment with little real information diversity – a situation at odds with a decade and a half of fervour for the democratizing potential of new media.

Keywords: News agencies, online journalism, Reuters, associated press, news sources, international news

New media have often been deemed inherently democratizing and liberating, offering the prospect of freeing us all from a long standing dependence on a few powerful information providers and the “mainstream” discourse they offer. McNair (2003) hailed recent internet evolution and its infinite possibilities for horizontal communication, the demystification and deprofessionalization of journalism, and endless information choice, suggesting that the chaos of the contemporary communications environment may lay to rest concerns about the power of traditional media monoliths upholding the status quo. Bruns (2005) has argued that everyone can practice journalism and increasingly effective models of participatory online journalism are emerging, further eroding the power of “old media”. While each offer sophisticated improvements over utopian predictions common a decade earlier[1], there is reason to doubt if the long dominant providers of international affairs information have…...

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