outlets (newspapers, radio and television broadcasts and websites) have
finite capacities. Newspapers have practical limits to the number of
articles that can be printed each day. Radio and television
broadcasters can fit only so many stories into a 30 minute newscast,
and news websites must select which stories fit on their homepages.
The genesis of
this paper was the anecdotal observation that major English-language
news media outlets devote more attention to some countries than to
others. This is to be expected: in a given week, some countries will
experience newsworthy events like wars, natural disasters, scientific
discoveries, economic collapses, sports championships, while others
will not. But it is equally clear, on an anecdotal basis, that some
countries get far more attention on a consistent basis, without regard
to the relative frequency or magnitude of newsworthy events.
newspapers, newscasts and website divide their attention between
regions of the world? To which countries to they devote the most
attention? Why do some countries get more attention than others? Do
factors like a country's population and the size of its economy predict
which countries will command the most attention from media channels?
begins to answer some of these questions with repeatable, transparent
statistical tools. It introduces the Global Attention Profile (GAP) as
a portrait of a news media outlet's attention to various nations. GAP
software automatically crawls a news media outlet's website and
calculates country-by-country story counts over a period of time. This
paper reports these story counts and correlates them to a wide range of
country data sets provided by the World Bank.
demonstrates that the most accurate predictor of a media outlet's
attention is the size of a nation's gross domestic product. This
correlation is significantly greater than the correlation between media
attention and the size of a nation's population, and appears to be the
strongest correlation between media attention and 21 factors examined.
Generally speaking, violent conflict seems to have less effect on media
attention than the size of a nation's economy does.
While most media
sources studied demonstrate similar patterns, one media outlet -- the
BBC News -- shows radically different patterns. The BBC's media
attention is more closely correlated to the size of a nation's
population than to the size of its economy.