article/chapitre Odycceus

International news flow theory revisited through a space–time interaction model

Application to a sample of 320,000 international news stories published through RSS flows by 31 daily newspapers in 2015

Claude Grasland, “International news flow theory revisited through a space–time interaction model”, International Communication Gazette, 82(3), 2019

This article proposes a quantitative model of the circulation of foreign news based on a gravity-like model of spatial interaction disaggregated by time, media, and countries of interest. The analysis of international RSS news stories published by 31 daily newspapers in 2015 demonstrates, first, that many of the laws of circulation of international news predicted half a century ago by Galtung and Ruge and by Östgaard are still valid. The salience of countries in media remains strongly determined by size effects (area, population), with prominent coverage of rich countries (GDP/capita) with elite status (permanent members of United Nations Security Council, the Holy See). The effect of geographical distance and a common language remains a major factor of media coverage in newsrooms. Contradicting the flat world hypothesis, global journalism remains an exception, and provincialism is the rule. The disaggregation of the model by media demonstrates that newspapers are not following exactly the same rules and are more or less sensitive to distance, a common language or elite status. The disaggregation of the model by week suggests that the rules governing foreign news can be temporarily modified by exceptional events that eliminate the usual effects of salience and relatedness, producing short periods of “global consensus” that can benefit small, poor, and remote countries. The residuals of the model help to identify countries that are characterized by a permanent excess of media coverage (like the US or the Australia in our sample) or media that received a coverage more important than usual during several months (Yemen, Ukraine) or years (Syria, Greece) because a situation of long-term political or economic crisis..