News is no longer a reporting of simple facts. Culture, politics, national issues and ethics shape the portrayal and coverage of breaking news in the world today. The same event may be displayed in strikingly different depending on the surrounding culture and the nation in which the news is broadcast. When it comes to watching the news, the best understanding of an event can be gained after reviewing the cultural and national impact on the report.
Times of war and national tension have a serious effect on the portrayal of certain news. The Cold War, for example, was one of the most obvious moments in history when identical events sparked completely opposite types of coverage. When the United States moved missiles into Turkey, it was an act of safety; American news claimed it was done in preparation of possible attacks. Russian news, however, were claiming an impending attack by Americans on Russian soil. The same thing occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Certain facts were skewed – such as the number of missiles and the reason for placement – that altered news reports in different countries. Depending upon the country in which the audience is located, the news and event opinions changed dramatically.
Political issues affect the news as well, but these also depend mainly on location. The isolated country of North Korea broadcasts very limited news. The North Korean government must approve everything said and shown in the country’s news. North Korean culture is hopelessly entwined with its politics; their leader is also their savior, and their culture is to serve the country. Everything represented in their news supports these ideals and upholds North Korea as the most advanced, best and brightest country in the world (even though the nation lags behind in most technological and medical advancements).
Culture can also highly affect what is portrayed in the news and how it is portrayed. In many western nations, for example, serious violent recordings are often not fully broadcasted because the western culture finds this unacceptable. Discussion of such violence is approved, but a literal display is rejected as too graphic and disturbing. In other nations, this is not always the case, and news stations are more likely to broadcast more graphic footage. At the same time, choosing subject matter for news stories also depends largely on the culture. South American news often covers sports, such as soccer, with more intensity and regularity that other nations. Australia may have more coverage on environmental concerns than a war-torn African nation. All in all, news must be reviewed in light of the cultural and environmental surroundings the viewers find themselves in, as these prove to change the portrayal of events in the media.