Why a Lack of International News Coverage is Problematic for intercultural communication

News shapes our world. News can create different perspectives on the same issues based on how it is presented. It can tell us what subjects to think about and disregard others by not giving them equal coverage. This can happen with national news and international news. International news is key to educating oneself on the on goings of the world. It can help educate people on other cultures. A lack of that news can lead to warped perspectives and create a barrier between cultures. Equal coverage of international and national news would be better for us all.

Agenda Setting Theory refers to the media’s power to influence it’s audience. This theory states that the media tells us what to think about. The media also does not reflect reality rather it shapes reality meaning that an agenda can be set and give viewers a warped perspective on reality. Essentially, reality can be whatever the media wants it to be, so long as the viewer is paying attention to it. This gives the media massive power and influence.

Pew research indicates that 87% of global medians follow national news whereas only 57% indicate they follow international news. If the media decides to set that agenda to local and national news over international news, then it’s viewers will assume that those issues are more important than others. Naturally it makes sense that one would be more interested in local or national news as it geographically is the area immediately around them. The problem with this being the only focus is that it creates an isolated world view. The isolated world view can lead to misunderstanding and general lack of knowledge about what is going on in other countries. This can lead to a lack of understanding of relevant cultural issues outside one’s own reality.

Warped perspectives on the world can create communication barriers between cultures. If people do not understand other cultures well and have a lack of knowledge about issues within those cultures, there can be a wall between those groups. Lack of knowledge can create disregard and insensitivity towards on going issues in other cultures or countries. Even worse, biased news towards others cultures could lead to fear and disdain for other cultures or countries due to warped perspectives from media coverage. These problems do not allow for smooth intercultural mingling.

Media coverage should include more international news. More international news will lead to a more interconnected world. An increase in international news will advance the process of globalization. A more interconnected people will be more willing to unite and work together towards something. If people are more connected with other cultures they can have a better understanding of there issues, beliefs, and ideologies. This broader perspective could create more empathy and understanding between different groups.

One thing that should be kept in check with more international news coverage is bias. Bias can be dangerous as it can also lead to warped perspectives. Biases can create cultural narratives and lead to clashing perspectives which will only lead to more disconnect between people. Pew research indicates that people want more unbiased news.

News has the potential to connect and unite us across different countries and cultures. Sadly, it can also isolate us and disconnect us just as easily as it can unite us. News media has a responsibility to represent different places and people all around the world. Keeping us connected as humans is important in order to obtain a broader and more knowledgeable worldview.

Leaving Home For a better Tomorrow

“Serbia was getting bombed. I was too young to remember and we weren’t directly affected, but obviously that’s not a place you want to be with that going on.” My friend Pavle was born in Serbia in 1997 during the later years of the Yugoslav Wars. Yugoslavia had dissolved in 1990 and conflict had arisen between the new countries and ethnic groups within the region. His parents would have to leave behind their home in order to give their children a better, safer life.

His parents knew that they would eventually have to leave the area. His family was in Belgrade, Serbia. This area was much safer than others within the region, but it was certainly not the ideal place to be at that time. Immigration can be a tough process. I find that a recurring theme in immigration is that families leave behind their homes, culture, and people in order to secure a better future for their children. It’s an inspiring act of selflessness. To take a risk and do something that is bigger than just yourself. That is what Pavle’s parents did.

Pavle was very young when these events were going on in Serbia. He doesn’t remember specifics of exactly what was happening, but from talking with his father, he does know that the economy was a mess and the government was extremely corrupt. Times were tough for his family back then during the wars as they did not have a lot of money thanks to the socialist government that imposed heavy taxes on it’s people.

Pavle’s parents had enough eventually. Some of his mom’s family had been in the U.S. for a few years already. They lived in Richmond, Virginia which is where Pavle ended up. “They wanted a better life for their kids” said Pavle. Like many others that immigrate to the U.S. from places in turmoil, they saw America as the land of opportunity.

Pavle arrived in the U.S. at the age of 5 in 2002. He didn’t speak much English and he described that as being quite the initial hurdle for him. Adjusting to life among American kids was hard for him at that age. His lack of experience with English made him an easy target for kids to make fun of him. He said that some kids would make fun of his accent and broken English. He said that once he was able to speak English better, things at school got much easier for him and he was able to make more friends. He said it didn’t take him as long as he had expected to feel like he fit in.

He had cousins who had already been living in Virginia for a few years and spoke better English than him which helped him a lot. Before he had a lot of friends, he spent most of his time with his cousins. “Serbian families really tend to stick together, I guess it’s just part of the culture” he said.

Pavle now feels that America is his home. He said coming here at a young age made the adjustment much easier. He feels that if he was older when he had first arrived in the states, things might have been more difficult. He has been back to Serbia multiple times, as he still has some family over there. “It’s different now and things are a lot better. Pretty much a different country now. I like going back but this is my home now and I wouldn’t want to live in Serbia again even though it’s a much better place these days,” he said.

Pavle says that coming to America was the right choice. He appreciates the sacrifice his parents made coming here and starting anew. He knew they wanted more opportunities for their children and he’s grateful for that. He is a college graduate, has a good job, his own place, and plenty of friends. He enjoys his life here and says that he’s not sure if things would have been as good for him had his family stayed in Serbia. Although he considers himself to be very Americanized, he still feels connected to his Serbian roots especially when in the company of family.

Immigration is not always easy, often times it can be difficult for families to uproot themselves and start a new life somewhere else. I think the take away from this story is that people who immigrate are always seeking to make things better for themselves and their families. We should also be mindful of the sacrifice these people make to come here. Starting a new life across the world is difficult, especially when coming from a fractured home country.

Italian Culture: Intercultural Communication Insights

I took the time to Interview my good friend Mark, about Italian culture. Mark’s family is Italian with mother and much of her extended family coming from southern Italy. He was born in New Jersey, however he has spent his whole life growing up within a community of Italian immigrants and Italian-Americans. His family who he grew up around consisted of both those from Italy and America. Nonetheless, his family has carried the cultural characteristics along with them.

Italians are a close contact culture. This means they are generally more comfortable with touch and have less distance between them in social situations. Talking with Mark about this made things more clear. He said that his family is very extroverted and will approach anyone getting right up in their personal space without a care. “If they don’t know you, they’re coming right up to you, Mark said.” In U.S. culture this isn’t so common, as Americans we tend to have a greater distance preference. We have a personal space bubble that is larger to that of a culture like the Italians. He said that in his time in Italy this was really evident as well. In Southern Italy strangers really don’t have a problem getting very close

Southern Italians are a very family oriented culture. Everything centers back around to family in some way or another. When asked about formality, the first thing mark said was that the elders of the family are always to be treated with respect, even if they are always giving you a hard time, which they will. He says despite this they are always still very welcoming and guests get treated like family in gatherings such as family dinners.

When asked about the emphasis on private life vs. work life, Mark said that private life is considered to be far more important. “It doesn’t matter what you do for work, how you are with your family is always more important. Not showing up to family dinners and holidays is gonna put you in a bad spot. You got to make time for the family.”

Mark also said he bases his identity around his relationships with others. He described himself as a loyal friend, family person, and hard worker. These ideas are very collectivist in thought. I thought this was interesting considering that Italy is known to be a mostly individualistic culture. Upon doing research this made more sense. According to Hofstede Insights, Southern Italy is known for being more collectivist in nature considering that everything is extremely family oriented within that culture. It is always about doing something for the good of the family rather than the individual.

Southern Italians are a very warm and welcoming group of people. They are very family oriented and if you treat them with respect, they will always welcome you in as part of them. They are very extroverted people and will have no problem asking you all kinds of questions. One should best engage with this culture by being as friendly and open to conversation as possible. Be aware of their cultural extroversion and meet them with a similar level of extroversion while at the same time being respectful. If not, you might come off as being somewhat cold and rough around the edges.