chapter  7
56 Pages

Meeting the elephant:

This chapter puts a magnifying glass on three weeks of contemporary broadcast journalism, comparing news output in three countries. Three weeks might seem a short time, but in terms of international comparative studies, it is long. The sheer logistical and practical problems of data collection, comparison, and evaluation elevate even twenty-one-day studies to the level of a mammoth task. We have already presented pertinent media trends in our sample countries. What about the events our newscasters had the option to cover or ignore? We start with a summary of our thin slice of history-the three Autumn weeks from the US midterm elections in November 1986 to Thanks-giving Day-three weeks full of events which not all of us heard anything about on the news. Our summary is based on programme logs from the BBC World Service, which we use as a baseline in our study. The BBCWS is not always perfect; occasional blemishes do occur in its newscasts. It does, however, provide one of the more reliable summaries of what is going on in the world. This is why we use it as a convenient starting point for a comparative study of news output from different broadcasters. An inter-country or intermedia content comparison tells us what news different broadcasters include. By adding the BBC World Service we can identify some of the news they exclude. So what did the slice of world history look like during those three weeks in November 1986?