Changing America's view of news at the click of a mouse

The US news media tends to ignore events outside its own country. That is why, says David Felton, it is the perfect time to offer a world view - online

America is the world's biggest media market. At the last count there were more than 70,000 journalists working for newspapers alone. Add on magazines, broadcast and the burgeoning new media and you have a huge industry generating billions of dollars.

America is the world's biggest media market. At the last count there were more than 70,000 journalists working for newspapers alone. Add on magazines, broadcast and the burgeoning new media and you have a huge industry generating billions of dollars.

Yet in Britain, we tend to be dismissive of American journalism. Reporters, editors and writers work to a high degree of professionalism and ethical standards - some would argue much higher than in this country. But still we think American journalism misses a beat. This has been occupying me a lot recently because Independent Digital, the new media arm of Independent News & Media, publishers of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, launched a website at the weekend, aimed specifically at the United States.

The new site ( offers in-depth, authoritative news reporting, high-quality features and analysis and the kind of challenging journalism readers of The Independent titles expect. So why should we produce an entirely separate website for the US when our main site ( is already popular in America?

We believe that with the rapid growth of Internet use, the demand in the US for our kind of journalism will grow. A journalism that embraces a world view, rather than having a narrow agenda concentrating almost exclusively on domestic issues, or only those international events that directly impact on your own country.

If the accusation against the US media is insularity, what is the evidence? Last December in Seattle, world leaders arriving in the city for the World Trade Organisation negotiations were greeted by rioting. This led to the postponement of the opening of the conference and police in riot gear battling with demonstrators and looters. There were injuries, tear gas, police reinforcements - the full nine yards. Yet the US broadcast media seemed not to know how to deal with a huge international story, relegating down their running orders - without pictures - a story making headlines around the world.

Last October, 30 people died and 245 were injured at Paddington in one of Britain's worst rail crashes. By any standards this was a major story - had the crash occurred near the centre of Washington, the British media would have given it wide coverage. But a friend travelling on business in the US at the time, watching TV news regularly, was unaware of the crash until she switched to CNN, where, for the first time, she was presented with a world news agenda.

This is not to say there is more international news in British newspapers than their US counterparts; there almost certainly isn't. But the selection process is heavily influenced by domestic politics - there is wide coverage of Israel, but little of the Arab world; there is almost no coverage of the European Union, and US papers' European correspondents tend to avoid Brussels, choosing to live instead in Paris, London or Berlin; wars such as Kosovo are reported only from the perspective of US involvement.

There are many aspects of American journalism to be admired; the attention to facts and detail, news stories running to thousands of words, and a strict code of ethics. But this lack of a world perspective runs right through to some of the much-admired Big City papers.

A second major difference between British and American journalism lies in the way news is presented. Don't expect to find the news in the intro, in either broadcast or print. The "drop" intro has been perfected to such an extent that you can often get down to paragraph eight before reaching the main point of a story. Last summer, I visited, the Internet arm of The Washington Post, where the equivalent of a home news editor had a large team of journalists repurposing material from the paper for the web. Almost every news article had to be rewritten to get the intro into the intro and the news point into the headline. Web users do not have time to delve a couple of hundred words before reaching the point of the article.

A third difference can best be summed up by the word attitude. British journalism has it, mainstream American journalism does not. We expect journalists to explain a story, to help the reader understand issues and, when the moment is right, inject some of the writer's own personality into the article.

The best reporters, such as this paper's Robert Fisk, carry off their task supremely well. Fisk could not have written his hard-edged, critical reports of Nato's bombing errors in Kosovo in an American paper. He would have been told to stick to the facts and leave comment to the leader columns.

We think we are the first British news organisation to launch a website for American users. We are explicitly telling them that we believe our journalism is different and perhaps better. This may be presumptuous, but as the world gets smaller and technology delivering the news becomes standard, we think journalism with an international perspective will be in great demand.

David Felton is Online Editor, Independent Digital

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot