American news content baffles international students

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Capital News Service

LANSING — Tiffany Goncalves scrolled through Facebook while sitting in her East Lansing apartment. A story about fires blazing through the Amazon rainforest in her home country of Brazil was sandwiched between a story about Michigan State University football and her friend’s post about joining a sorority on campus. 

Michigan State is home to more than 7,000 students from around the world. Representing more than 40 countries, these students bring a global perspective to classes in a wide array of majors. 

Meanwhile, technological advances allow them to stay connected to their homes from thousands of miles away.

 Goncalves, a chemical engineering major, described how her perspective has changed since attending a university in the United States. 

She explained that since she has read entertainment and political news and social media online like she used to at home, she feels Americans see the world one certain way.

“It’s crazy to see how American news represents my home country. It seems pretty judgmental when it is covered — even racist at times,” Goncalves said. “Brazil does a better job of objectively covering international news,” she said.

She explained how symbolic it was that a story about the ecological disaster in her country was hidden between two posts about American college lifestyle. 

“After living here for three years, I realized that the majority of the United States doesn’t know much about other cultures or what is going on in other countries,” Goncalves said. 

According to MSU senior Mia DeAngelis, Brazil isn’t the only country that isn’t adequately represented in the news she sees in the United States. She explained that the press in her home country of Canada emphasizes American news, not only due to the proximity of the two nations, but also because of international repercussions. 

“To foreigners, America is seen as the powerhouse of the world,” DeAngelis, a marketing major, said. “I think American news is a widely covered topic around the world, and therefore more credible because everything that happens here has global influence.”

International business major Julia Kanning expressed concern about American news outlets and how they relay information about other countries, including her home country.

“I have to admit that since I’ve lived in the U.S., I think that German news sources are more credible than American ones,” Kanning said. “At least half of the news covered in Germany is international, while here it seems to be almost all domestic.”

She said that her interest in international affairs and passion for global learning brought her to the United States, and that’s why she analyzes and compares stories in the German magazine Der Spiegel and the New York Times.

“German journalists tend to report more neutrally than American journalists,” Kanning said. “I find that some American outlets artificially inflate the news.”

International students from a variety of countries come to MSU for educational opportunity and a chance to experience an American university. 

François Zuindeau, a French exchange student and sports news fanatic studying political science, explained how the U.S. media’s fixation on American news affects the world views of the American people.

“A few years ago, I watched a video where American people were asked to locate North Korea on a map, and almost none of them could,” Zuindeau said. “This may be because they see their country as the world’s greatest power and, therefore, do not need to pay attention to the rest of the world. Perhaps it is just due to lack of access to foreign cultural content.”

“It might be a cliché, but I feel that some Americans think they are alone in this world,” Zuindeau said, “And the major news outlets in America reflect that.”

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