The Global President: International Media and the US Government. By Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013. 205 pp.
Using an impressive data set of more than 770,000 television news stories collected from more than 40 broadcast outlets from Europe, the Middle East, China, South Africa, and the United States, the authors of The Global President: International Media and the US Government set out to understand how foreign media reported on the United States during the George W. Bush presidency and the first two years of the Barack Obama presidency. The wide variety of findings that emerge from the project's analysis of that data constitutes a useful contribution to scholarly understanding of international media coverage and of how that coverage interacts with foreign perceptions of the United States.
The first chapter sets up the context for the rest of the book by providing a brief description of the content analysis data collected through Media Tenor as well as an overview of contemporary U.S. media coverage of presidents. While the data derive from a wide variety of outlets, the initial chapter does not provide enough information about how the data were collected and the key variables that were assessed to ground the study. (Some of this information does become clearer in later chapters; however, it would have been helpful to have a more detailed description of the data set at the outset, given how much the study relies on it.) The authors then lay out several premises regarding international coverage, including an international two-step flow, which argues that domestic media coverage of a country may influence that country's coverage in international media. They also highlight the so-called CNN effect (p. 14), which argues that politicians respond when elite news outlets spotlight issues or problems in other parts of the world.
In subsequent chapters on international coverage of the United States, the Obama presidency, the Bush presidency, the 2008 election, and globalization, The Global President delves more deeply into the data set to reach a number of conclusions. As one might expect, for instance, U.S. broadcast outlets cover foreign nations much less than international news broadcasts cover subjects related to the United States. Interestingly, international coverage of the United States became more positive between January 2002 and June 2010 (the time frame for the...