A Wider Perspective

In addition to reading the online versions of US newspapers, I read the home page of BBC news each day. I often also read other International newspapers online. Interestingly, because of paywalls and article limits, which exist on US news sites, I tend to read more articles on BBC and NPR than on other sites. I suspect that this gives me a bit of a bias in my news reading, but I try to maintain some balance and at least keep up with sources that offer perspectives that are different from my own. I try to at least be aware of what the people I serve are watching and choosing for news sources. I do not, however, watch television very much at all, so I don’t have the died of 24/7 news repetition that plays in the homes of some of the members of my congregation. I’m pretty sure that I have some sense of what our folks watch, but I don’t immerse myself in all of it.

I was struck by the contrast between US and international sources this morning.

The New York Times first five stories have these headlines:
How Giuliani Led Trump to the Brink of Impeachment
What to Watch at Today’s Impeachment Hearing
Saudi Gunman Had Clashed With Instructor at Florida Base
Barr Dives Into the Culture Wars, and Social Conservatives Rejoice
Despite Warnings, Trump Moves to Expand Migrant Family Detention

NPR’s first five stories are:
Biden Rejects Calls For Impeachment Testimony As A Trump Ploy to ‘Divert Attention’
Democrats’ Impeachment Process to Resume Monday - As Will Battles with GOP
FBI Is Investigating Pensacola Shooting as Terrorism
Justice Department Watchdog Report On Russia Investigation Due Monday
Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird And Oscar On ‘Sesame Street,’ Dies At 85

Over at BBC the first five are:
New Zealand volcano eruption kills at least five
Russia banned from global sports for four years
Finnish minister, 34 to be world’s youngest PM
French far-left leader sentenced for intimidation
Saudi Arabia ends restaurant segregation

Outside of the BBCs use of normal sentence structure instead of the US news sources using headline capitalization, there is a very notable difference. It appears that the US news sources are focusing solely on what is happening in our country. If one goes only to US news sources, one might get the impression that the drama in Washington DC and the after effects of a mass shooting were what the whole world is focused upon. Go outside of the US for news coverage, however, and one is quick to discover that there is a lot going on in the world beyond our borders. The contrast is even more striking when you notes that none of the top five stories on BBC are about events in England. In fact all of the 14 top news stories on the BBC home page are about events that occurred outside of England. The site does have a US & Canada tab and a UK tab at the top of the page, where you can access geographically sorted news stories, but the site is designed to bring news of the world to those who visit it regularly.

When you assume that you are the center of the universe, you get a very different view of what is important than when you pay attention to the wider world. The narcissism that is so evident in American politics today seems to be influencing our culture in so many ways. We are losing the ability to see ourselves as the rest of the world looks at us. Although news sources in other countries pay attention to the US and keep a large contingent of reporters here to cover the news in our country, they do not see every whim of every politician to be news.

And if you pay attention to US news sources over time, you get the impression that their attention span is incredibly short. Personally, I am very interested in US immigration policy and stories about what is happening at our borders. I find that many days it is hard to get fresh news on that topic. It is almost as if that is “old news.” Our short attention span is on impeachment hearings this week, but there is some indication that the House of Representatives is planning to finish up its work on that topic before Christmas. We’ll soon be on to something else. Meanwhile, there are some alarming things going on with Immigration. The New York Times does have a story about the Trump administration’s attempts to expand the detention of families and children at US border crossings. Family incarceration always brings to mind images of WWII German concentration camps and US Japanese detention centers. The world does not have a pleasant memory of times when governments have attempted to lock up entire families. There is a definite paranoia in detaining people who pose no threat. Even if the economic threat perceived by some were real, it is a pretty selfish perspective to think that families seeking safety should be incarcerated or sent into the hands of kidnappers just so that they can’t compete for jobs. Our selfishness as a nation, however, is rarely the topic of a news story.

There is a lot going on in the world. And the world is filled with people who are caught up in dramatic events. A cruise ship side tour to a volcano can turn deadly in a matter of minutes. the Olympics can be transformed by a major competitor being banned because of doping. Peace talks aimed at ending the war in the Ukraine are beginning. India is struggling with the definition of citizenship, the democracy protests in Hong Kong continue after six months. There is a lot going on and we aren’t the center of every story.

I plan to continue to read stories from news sources outside of the US. I hope that others will do so as well. Although my calling is to serve a particular people in a particular place, we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. And God, Creator of the Universe, loves all of the people of this world.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!