Global journalism – a cross-border perspective on the world

Media should aim at showing how events are interlinked rather than isolating them and taking them out of context, says Peter Berglez and Ulrika Olausson, researchers in media and communication studies at Örebro University, Sweden. Journalism must develop in order to reflect the increasingly globalised world in which we live and to make it possible to explain reasons for and consequences of events such as climate change, the financial crisis or epidemics.

Today, newspapers, radio and television are geographically divided. Media often put news items into categories or exclude news that do not have a geographic centre, and therefore do not fit into any of the categories of local, national or international news. However, Ulrika Olausson and Peter Berglez detect small changes in this approach, which they isolate and take a closer look at in their research. Their research has been published in journals such as Journalism Studies and European Journal of Communication, and it describes the need to look beyond media’s current categorisation.

– There is much to gain from using a cross-border perspective – that is to say writing global journalism. There is no need for an exclusive television channel or newspaper – it is an approach to news reporting in general. Local newspapers could place their local news in a much larger context. Of course there are news items that do not need such a perspective, but all too often news rooms choose to limit their news, when in fact the readers would have gained much more by having the whole picture presented to them, says Ulrika Olausson.

Important to see the whole picture

– For example, news about the climate issue is often presented out of context. It is for example difficult to report on changes that occur over a long period of time and therefore are more or less invisible – they do not change from one day to the next. It is much easier to focus on polar bears, floods or draughts. Consequently, only parts of a much bigger problem are being reported, because the whole picture is too abstract, says Peter Berglez.

– We have emphasised before how important it is that climate communication reflects the whole picture and gives a broader view of research in the field rather than for example focusing on whether the United Nation’s intergovernmental panel on climate change represents the truth or is pure humbug. The black-and-white thinking must make way for more mature explanations, says Ulrika Olausson.

Do not categorize news

The climate issue is very much a cross-border issue without a geographical centre. Individual countries cannot solve the problems themselves, instead they need to cooperate.

– The cooperation between member states in the European Union is becoming more visible and the media there has been a certain shift in the meaning of the word “we”. Today, “we” often means the EU. For example, we become part of the EU who struggles for sustainability against “them”, i.e. the US, who is not willing to even discuss any change in regulation. However, this does not imply that we are any less Swedish, says Ulrika Olausson.

People’s national identities do not become weaker just because they are part of something bigger. Nonetheless, the concept of a nation has become weaker due to globalisation, and it is more and more influenced by external factors. Sweden’s finances and politics are affected by both the EU and the rest of the world.

– Therefore, it is important to avoid categorising news as being national or international. We should let the borders dissolve in the media as well as in real life, says Peter Berglez.

– There are good examples of global journalism. Journalism that shows how financial, political, social and environmental events in different parts of the world are interlinked but we hope to see much more of it in the future, says Ulrika Olausson.

Text: Linda Harradine
Translation: Veronika Sjöholm
Foto: Örebro universitet