On March 7, 2023, Global Press, a long-time Channel partner, published a groundbreaking report in partnership with Media Impact Funders entitled Unlocking U.S. Audience Demand for International News which describes U.S. audience demand for international journalism and provides recommendations for funders who care about supporting public interest media around the world.
Written by Global Press Chief Operating Officer Laxmi Parthasarathy and Global Press CEO Cristi Hegranes, the study establishes that there is a deep reservoir of untapped demand from readers in the United States—across a wide range of demographics, including non-citizen, diaspora and migrant populations—for higher-quality international journalism. The study’s conclusions were derived from a rigorous methodology, including a nationwide survey of more than 1,200 U.S.-based readers of international news, complemented by in-depth interviews and focus group feedback.
As the report’s executive summary makes clear, “The quality of international journalism available to readers in the United States leaves much to be desired. Too often, media outlets send ‘parachute journalists’ abroad to report on global communities. Lacking local context, their reporting often misrepresents those communities and defaults to well-trodden themes of war, famine, disease, and disaster. As a result, U.S. readers develop skewed perspectives about people and places abroad.”
As Parathasarathy commented on Twitter, “One of the most striking results Cristi Hegranes & I discovered was that U.S. readers, across diverse demographics, prefer international news written by local reporters living in the communities they cover.”
Ultimately, the authors conclude that the findings in this study point the way toward a remarkable opportunity. U.S. audiences across a diverse range of demographics prefer higher-quality international journalism that is defined by more proximate reporting, dignified and precise language, and comprehensive coverage–once they know it is an option. The media industry and media funders have an opportunity to unlock this latent demand, making it possible to serve readers engaging international news without sacrificing qu ality.
Recommendations for moving forward, targeted to both funders and newsrooms include: investing in media literacy; using partnerships to build high-quality international journalism capacity; increasing transparency; and investing in local expertise and hiring local reporters.
Media Impact Funders advances the work of a broad range of funders committed to effective use and support of media in the public interest. Global Press is an award-winning, nonprofit organization that trains and employs local women journalists to produce ethical, accurate news coverage from the world’s least-covered places.