Monday, August 11, 2008

No Difference Seen Between U.S. and non-U.S. Coverage of Political Issues

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

The choice of Beijing as the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games raised some eyebrows when it was announced seven years ago. At the time there was some doubt that a city in insular China would be able to pull off a global event of this nature. But in recent months, talk in Western media turned not to whether the Games would succeed, but whether the city deserved the honor of hosting in light of such issues as China’s human rights record, its relationship with Tibet and its environmental problems. In recent weeks topics receiving coverage included Beijing’s polluted water and air, protests along the Torch Relay, questions about travel visas, and athletes’ political stances being quieted.

Analysis by Dow Jones Insight shows that in the period between July 28 and August 10 the breakdown of the discussion of these topics was nearly identical in the U.S. and in English-language media around the world. Among the seven politically charged issues being tracked by Dow Jones Insight, human rights issues led coverage in U.S. sources, with 3,144 mentions, or 36%, of 8,650 total mentions. The environment was a distant second, with 1,611 mentions, or 19%. The numbers were very similar in non-U.S. sources during the same period. Of the 15,155 total mentions, human rights issues garnered 5,812, or 38%, and environmental issues accounted for 2,510 mentions, or 17%.

Tibet was third in U.S. sources, with 1,091 mentions, for 13%, followed by media freedom, with 1,040 mentions for 12%. In non-U.S. sources, media freedom was the third-most-covered topic, with 2,288 mentions, for 15%, and Tibet was fourth, with 2,243 mentions, for 15%. The topic of athletes’ health was fifth in both U.S. and non-U.S sources, with 10% and 8% of mentions, respectively. Doping garnered 9% of mentions in U.S. sources and 6% of mentions in non-U.S. sources. Athlete freedom of speech had 190 mentions, or 2%, in U.S. sources and 230 mentions, or 2%, in non-U.S. sources.

Methodology: Analysis includes the English-language sources taken from a database of 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts; about 13,000 current-awareness news sites; 60,000 message boards and about two million blogs.

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