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Monday, January 13, 2014

What other world? Top 20 stories of the year

Americans are pretty exceptional. One way is that we are largely uniformed about the world. This is largely because we live in a society where our schools do not focus on the world, and where our media tend to ignore it as well.

So this report from Truthout will probably not surprise you:

If people outside the United States are looking for answers why Americans often seem so clueless about the world outside their borders, they could start with what the three major U.S. television networks offered their viewers in the way of news during 2013.

Syria and celebrities dominated foreign coverage by ABC, NBC, and CBS – whose combined evening news broadcasts are the single most important media source of information about national and international events for most Americans. Vast portions of the globe went almost entirely ignored, according to the latest annual review by the authoritative Tyndall Report.

Latin America, most of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia apart from Afghanistan, and virtually all of East Asia – despite growing tensions between China and Washington’s closest regional ally, Japan – were virtually absent from weeknight news programmes of ABC, NBC, and CBS last year, according to the report, which has tracked the three networks’ evening news coverage continuously since 1988.

Out of nearly 15,000 minutes of Monday-through-Friday evening news coverage by the three networks, the Syrian civil war and the debate over possible U.S. intervention claimed 519 minutes, or about 3.5 percent of total air time, according to the report.

That made the Syrian conflict and the U.S. policy response the year’s single-most-covered event. It was followed by coverage of the terrorist bombing by two Chechnya-born brothers that killed three people at the finish line of last April’s Boston Marathon (432 minutes); the debate over the federal budget (405 minutes); and the flawed rollout of the healthcare reform law, or Obamacare (338 minutes).

The next biggest international story was the death in December of former South African President Nelson Mandela (186 minutes); the July ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and its aftermath; the coverage of Pope Francis I (157 minutes, not including an additional 121 minutes devoted to Pope Benedict’s retirement and the Cardinals’ conclave that resulted in Francis’ succession); and the birth of Prince George, the latest addition to the British royal family (131 minutes).

The continued fighting in Afghanistan came in just behind the new prince at 121 minutes for the entire year.

Here are your top 20 stories of the year. Notice that the number one story is one of violence. Surprised?

Boston Marathon bomb attack432119157156
Federal budget, spending debate40580176149
Healthcare reform law rollout3385616784
Syria civil war continues3106216484
Tornado season2958894113
Winter weather28111758107
Guns: firearms control debate2243512465
Wild forest fires in western states223577493
NSA collects data on citizens210449966
Syria chemical weapons arsenal209438780
S.Africa: Nelson Mandela dies186456674
Egypt: President Morsi ousted175398156
Fla neighborhood watch trial169764053
Pope Francis I takes office157395860
British royals: baby prince born131491962
Afghanistan fighting continues121205843
Cleveland captive trio of women117523035
Ct school shooting aftermath113196727
Superstorm Sandy aftermath96172554
NYSE-NASDAQ market action95234427

Total Top Twenty Stories4286107916891519

And here are the top crime stories of the year:

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