World news (or international news or foreign coverage) is a field of journalism that deals with news either sent by foreign correspondents or news agencies, or information gathered or researched from abroad.
A reporter’s job in this field is to collect and report news from abroad, as well as from within a country’s own borders. This can take many forms, including covering political events in other countries, covering economic issues in other regions of the world, obtaining news on military and diplomatic matters and reporting on cultural, religious or ethnic events and issues.
In the past, newspapers largely focused on news about the United States and Europe, but today world news is increasingly important for journalists. The rise of telecommunications, the expansion of global trade and the growing power of multinational corporations, governments and NGOs has made it essential for news organizations to be well versed in world events.
One of the first journalists to specialize in world news was Joseph Pulitzer, who turned the news articles of his New York World newspaper into dramatic stories with a plot, actors in conflict and colorful details. His style changed how we read the news.
According to Paul H. Weaver, “the press corrupts itself and the public policy process by seeking out and propagating dueling cover stories with their drama, conflict, and quotable advocates, but fails to discover or report the underlying realities.”
He writes that this is especially true of “dueling news”: “When two conflicting sides are vying for the attention of a public in an age of instant news, the media are not only the medium through which these competing versions of what happened get broadcast, but also the primary medium by which the audience’s perception of what actually occurred gets shaped. The fact that the public’s perceptions can quickly change its judgment about a policy decision depends on how the press reports those dueling versions.”
Weaver makes an eloquent case for this argument. He uses a number of examples, from the health care debate to the war in Somalia.
His book, News and the Culture of Lying: How Journalism Really Works (The Free Press, 1994), provides a detailed account of how the press manipulates its own story, the story of government officials and the story of the public. He also offers a range of recommendations, such as a return to pre-Pulitzer journalism and the establishment of a culture of responsibility and deliberation in the newsroom.
He also calls for a breakup of the media monopolies. He argues that the current system of “media monoliths” should be broken up to promote competition and innovation, enabling more local news outlets to compete for advertising dollars. Weaver believes that the public would benefit from a more balanced approach to news and opinion, based on “research, analysis, and reflection.”