Dr. Lee B. Becker discussed coverage
of international news.

Cox Center Director Says Small Media in U.S. Devote Limited Resources to Coverage of Korea

Small media organizations in the United States traditionally devote limited resources to international news, in part because they see their mission as local in nature, Dr. Lee B. Becker told journalists and researchers gathered at a special session on coverage of the Korean nuclear crisis at a conference of the Center for Global Media Studies held in Seattle July 16 and 17.

Yet it is these small newspapers and radio and television stations that provide many Americans with their international news, said Dr. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The July 17 session and another the day earlier were sponsored by the Korean Press Foundation to provide insight into the ways American media have covered the tensions on the Korean peninsula resulting from the revelations about the North Korean nuclear weapons programs in the last 10 plus years.

Other participants on the sessions were: Melvin DeFleur, professor at Louisiana State University; Steve Dunphy, associate editor of The Seattle Times; Chang Yong Kim, In-je University; Jae Hak Lee, foreign news editor of the Joong Ang Il Bo; Jae Ho Lee, editor writer for the Dong A Il Bo; Jin Sook Lee, senior international reporter for Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation; Koo Hyun Lee, Korea Press Foundation; Charles L. (Jack) Pritchard, former U.S. envoy to North Korea and now a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution; and Steve Weisman, chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times.

Dr. David Demers, executive director of the Center for Global Media Studies at the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications at Washington State University, served as moderator of the two special sessions on Korea.

Dr. Becker said that research conducted in the Cox Center shows that two-thirds of the daily newspapers in the United States with daily circulations of 50,000 or more do not set aside space in each paper for foreign news. Foreign news even in these relatively large papers, Dr. Becker said, must compete with local, state and regional events for coverage. On average, Dr. Becker said, these papers have less than a single foreign correspondent.

Dr. Becker said media organizations engage in what he termed the "localization of international news" by relating international events to things going on in the community. While this helps readers see the linkages to international events, Dr. Becker said, it also means that international events without strong local linkages go uncovered by small media organizations.

Jin Sook Lee from Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation said "there is a big gap" between South Koreans and people in the U.S. in their perceptions of North Korea. A recent poll has shown that more than two-thirds of the people between 20 and 31 years of age in South Korea "hate" the U.S., while a quarter said they "hate" North Korea, she said.

"In the U.S., however, the Bush administration still regards North Korea as part of the axis of evil," she said. Jae Ho Lee from Dong A Il Bo said "I think American media tend to take the danger of North Korean nuclear program more serious than Korean." The two-day conference in Seattle was the second organized by the Center for Global Media Studies. The first was held in Spokane in 2002. Dr. Becker is a member of the executive board for the Center.