Broadening Views in Tabloids and Tablets: Proportions of Perspectives in American and Finnish World News Articles on South Africa and Brazil

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


My doctoral research creates and applies a methodology to systematically measure and compare the proportions of perspectives in world news. By perspectives, I mean news frames and the voices of people affiliated with different political, cultural, and economic institutions (i.e., institutional fields), quoted or paraphrased in the news. My method also assesses the relative positivity (tone) of frames. I focus on American and Finnish world news articles concerning South Africa and Brazil, as these Southern countries prepared to host the FIFA World Cup, thereby receiving global media attention. My primary sample consists of print and online news articles published in The New York Times and Helsingin Sanomat between 2006 and 2014. In their pursuit for more global democracy, South Africa and Brazil, along with other nations in the so-called Global South, have demanded a greater voice in the international public sphere. Building on Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory, I examine what the proportions of perspectives in American and Finnish news reveal about the power relations between Southern and Northern countries and the institutions involved.

The findings of my research challenge the prevailing claims that the Global South is voiceless or marginalized in Northern news: in both American and Finnish news, Southern sources received between 70–80 percent of total quoting space, on average, to express their views. However, the Southern fields were also depicted more negatively than the Northern fields. I found that American journalists try to maintain a neutral tone: negative definitions of Southern institutions in American news mostly appear in quotes from other Southern institutions and anonymous sources. Finnish journalists express critical opinions toward Southern institutions more explicitly than American journalists. My study also revealed significant differences between the American and Finnish forms of news: While the American news manages to reveal the complexity of the South African and Brazilian situations at the article level, which Finnish news does not, the views in American news articles are not developed as fully as in the Finnish news articles. My study concludes by providing concrete suggestions as to how the American and Finnish forms of news could be combined to create world news that abounds in both depth and a larger quantity of diverse perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Pärssinen, Martti, Supervisor
  • Benson, Rodney, Supervisor, External person
  • Korpisaari, Antti, Supervisor
Award date5 Jan 2018
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-3930-6
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-3931-3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 518 Media and communications

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