How Does the (US) News Shape the Way We See the World

Alisa Miller or Public Radio International (PRI) is speaking at TED this week. PRI has set up a page for this TED talk which aims at helping citizens become more aware of international news, the limitations of existing news structures and the importance of global journalism. The video below is very well done and makes these previous points through statistics and visualizations.

Our society is becoming more globally interconnected each day. In our increasingly interdependent world, events taking place in distant countries can be of vital significance to Americans; in turn, the choices and actions we take here at home can reverberate around the globe. Yet, Americans seem to know less and less about the world around them, their many connections to it, and the complexities and interrelationships between major issues such as peace and security, energy, sustainability and the environment, economic development, health, and the arts and culture.

This is important because how we comprehend our world shapes how we live in it and what actions we take.

While the target audience is American, I do not get the sense from my contact with high school and undergraduate students that Canadian youth/adults fair much better in their understanding of the global context. Sure, we could blame US news sources and tout the differences evident in our beloved CBC. I know it is not enough. So, what do we do? How do we get our children to better understand the global context? How do we get our kids to see the importance of global perspectives? And more importantly, how do we get them to care?

  • Great post, Alec and I will be sure to check out the video and pass it on.

    How do we get our children, our students, to think outside themselves and gain a global perspective? Some schools have the luxury of being able to participate in student exchanges and, while actually living in a different cultural context is certainly a valuable learning experience, it usually only impacts those individual students.

    I think the answer is taking advantage of the tools and online spaces that readily support global partnerships between schools, classes and students. Our students need to do more than read about other people groups and cultures, they need to develop real relationships with students in other nations. And of course, I know many classes that are doing just that – but not enough.

    Currently, I am trying to establish connections between schools in Canada and schools in South Africa. If anyone is interested, please give me a shout….

    Of course, I also believe that many teachers need to learn to think outside themselves as well. I may soon be working with Teachers Without Borders to establish mentoring partnerships between teachers in North America and teachers who desperately need mentoring support to teach their subject content in their schools in the townships of South Africa. More on that very soon, I hope!

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  • Gary McFarlane

    Interesting post. Just got off an on-line chat with our 22 year-old son who is in China for a sporting event (short track speed skating) and our 20 year-old daughter submitted her application for a spring educational session in Finland yesterday. We are enthusiastic that they are taking the chance to find ways to go beyond the borders of North America (Alberta, Canada in this case). Both my wife and I travelled when we were their age and continue to do so even if it means that we don’t have the latest gadgets and consumer items (except for my MacBook Pro!). I hope they continue to do this and realize that the world is more than North American television. Unfortunately their choices are questioned by others who think that they should be more diligent in pursuing “careers” – their choices mean that they will not get a degree in the expected 4 years and be contributing to the economy. I don’t understand that – wouldn’t someone with a world view be more valuable? Maybe a university degree should include a requirement for some international experience – especially those who are of a North American origin.

    My fear is that this option for travel may become less of a possibility. The cost of travel (especially by air) continues to increase and eventually our use of fossil fuels for transportation may result in international cross-cultural experience being only an option for the rich. In my day, “Europe on $10.00 a day” was possible. 10 years form now we may have a much larger world and I am not sure electronic/digital networks are as enriching.

  • Erin Remple

    I pride myself that I listen to CBC radio 1 on my commute to school. I find other networks to have a more overt bias or rather a bias that I do not share! I don’t watch Entertainment Tonight (or Entertainment Tonight Canadian Edition) and try really hard to know anything about Brittany or others like her. Imagine my horror when CBC one morning had a brief story about Brittany on its national news! I’m still upset with myself for not sending them an email to express my feelings.

    20 years ago I was a teenager who stayed up to watch the National and sometimes the Journal on CBC. My need for global awareness has increased as a teacher and yet the demands of being a relatively new teacher means that I don’t have the time or energy to follow the big stories.

  • I’m going to my bookshelf to get “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman and re-read for at least the 20th time. The video takes some information that we may have already know but visualizes it with startling effect.

  • I found the video to be very interesting. I enjoy watching/listening to the news but didn’t realize how narrow our views are.

  • Alec,

    My parents have long said that I am the way that I am because when I was a child my father read to me from Newsweek.

  • Corey Terry

    Alec, this was a terrific video, it really indicates the scope of international news-less-ness in the US (is that a word?). I am going to forward this on to our teachers, especially our social studies teacher.

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