A new nightly world newscast is being launched on U.S. public television, and producers of the new show say they intend to present foreign news in a way that is interesting and significant to American audiences. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona Ghuneim has the story.
Producers of the new show Worldfocus say there is little foreign news coverage on television in the United States and what is covered is often glossed over or not explained very well to American viewers.
Referring to what he calls a "void in television news," executive producer of the program Marc Rosenwasser says he wants to focus on foreign news in a way that shows Americans how international events and happenings impact their lives. He says Worldfocus will draw from a large network of global newsgathering organizations and individuals, and the staff purposely comes from all over the world.
Rosenwasser says the show will incorporate diverse voices and viewpoints, something lacking in a lot of foreign news coverage in mainstream media.
"We have assistant producers who come from the Middle East, Taiwan, Brazil, Africa. By having people who hail from all over the world, we think we can easily get well beyond the typical coverage of the same two or three major stories and extend our region to all kinds of stories," he said.
Those sorts of stories, says Rosenwasser, include examining major world trends, such as the effect of higher food prices on various nations and regions, as well as breaking foreign news, analysis and longer feature-type reports. The executive producer says he thinks Americans would be more interested in foreign events if they were better presented by the media and made to be more meaningful to them.
But American Jeffery McGraw does not wholly agree. The international content sales manager for Arts and Entertainment Television says he doesn't see how this show will be any different from other U.S. news programs that report foreign news. He says he thinks most Americans like their news fast and compact.
"People in America generally want their news in short and sweet sound bites. How will a show like this appeal to people who have very busy lives and do not have a lot of time to devote to domestic issues, let alone international issues? I think when things happening outside America affect America in a major way, people will be informed by mainstream sources," he said.
But McGraw says the show could still set itself apart through "execution." He says that part of why he watches one media outlet more than another is because of the way the news is delivered, and the appeal of the personalities presenting that news.
Worldfocus has recruited a big name in the U.S. news industry, correspondent Martin Savidge from NBC News, to be its anchor, and it plans to feature other top news and foreign affairs experts on a regular basis.
Worldfocus analyst Richard Haass is the president of the private Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He says Worldfocus comes at a time when the need for Americans to connect to what is happening around the world has never been as great, yet there is a lack of committed, regular, and substantial American programming on international news.
"I do not see this show as a 'news show.' That is not its function. This is not headline news. It is essentially more analysis behind the news and it is to choose a few principal stories and drill down and give them some depth."
Haass says that a lot of Americans are selectively interested in foreign news, such as trade and immigration stories or the war in Iraq, but that even when they do care about an issue, there is often a shortage of information or background or what he calls an "absence of perspective."
New York University graduate student Christina Garidis says she is not certain the general American public will tune in, but she thinks the United States does need a program like this.
"When we see things about other countries, it is usually to villainize or to objectify or separate ourselves from them. I would like to see it presented more in a way that shows how related we are to these remote cultures, and I would also like to see more good news because there is a lot of good stuff happening in the world - humanitarian projects going on - and we do not hear enough about that," she said.
Garidis says she does not own a television but that she might watch the show online.
The executive director says Worldfocus will also have a Web presence and will try to engage people outside of the United States in an interactive way.
"We will ask people online to offer submissions about their feelings about something going on in their part of the world or something going on in the United States in which they can opine by submitting a video blog and we hope to incorporate those into a semi-regular feature on the show," he said.
Rosenwasser says the half-hour newscast has already secured coverage on eight out of the top 10 public television stations in the United States, with two New York stations airing the program twice each night.