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Research Article Open Access

The Imagined International Community: Dominant American Priorities and Agendas in Google News

Abstract

A crucial aspect of communication rights is the ability to maintain a plurality of political views. This paper examines the biases of online news through the study of Google News, a multilingual interface that pulls articles from thousands of popular online news sources. The popularity of Google News and its global spread make it an influential channel, which can have important implications on the way people perceive the world. Subsequently, this paper analyzes the top news articles in Google News, looking at the most frequent issues, countries and links between countries. Findings indicate that the USA is a dominant actor in most popular news sources, and that both English and non-English online news display US-centric priorities and agendas. While reading popular online news, worldwide users were channeled to view the American military operation in Iraq or the concern of the nuclear potential of Iran and North Korea as the most important international political events. Consequently, it is suggested that Google News and similar services, which aggregate various news sources into one interface and become popular and “authoritative” news channels in themselves, intensify certain perceptions of the World based on the page-ranking mechanism and its popularization of content. A network analysis envisions the relative position and the news-links between states and organizations. It displays the centrality of the USA in English and non-English news. It also reveals the important role of the UN as a central hub that connects many African countries with the rest of the international network. This suggests that international organizations, and particularly the UN and the EU, play an increasingly crucial role in the international network as perceived by popular online news sources, due to their central position and political influence as mediators and connectors between countries.

Elad Segev

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