Let us forget for the moment that The Sun is Britain's biggest-circulation newspaper, which I think is a much bigger condemnation of British news taste than the allegation that U.S. news contains very little international news.
Let us compare the top stories of web sites of two British and two American nationally-read newspapers for today (22 May 2004). We'll call stories about the home country or its direct interests National and stories about other countries International. I deem Iraq stories to be in the national interest of both countries, although you could argue that everything is in the national interest of countries that trade so far and wide. There are also Sports and Local stories. You could probably argue that some of the stories I call Local are actually National and vice versa, but that makes very little difference when comparing to International.
New York Times:
Kerry Considers Strategic Delay for Democratic Nomination - N
Dogs and Other Harsh Tactics Linked to Military Intelligence - N
Economic Signs Are Pointing Up, but Bush's Ratings Are Not - N
Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy - N
Leaving a Legacy in India - I
Car Bomb Injures Iraqi Deputy Minister - N
Steward Stock Case Is Jolted by Charge That an Agent Lied - N
Rodriguez's Homer Becomes Footnote in Loss - S
Kristof: Defending Rumsfeld - N
Brooks: Good Mideast News - N
Editorial: Abu Gharib Inquiry - N
Brudno Honored on the Wall - N
New York Funding Flap - L
Abuse Inflicted to Punish Prisoners, Amuse Jailers - N
Prison Photos Given Context - N
Kerry May Delay Nomination - N
Building a New Democracy (former Soviet Republic) - I
Lead Editorial: Convention as Farce - N
Editorial: Arresting Witnesses - N
King: 'Fix It, Brother' - N
A Better Iraq Transition Plan - N
Big spending Britons - N
Channel 4 chief for BBC - N
Thieves market on eBay - N
New images show full horror of abuses - N
Detective killed by machete wielding man - N
Major's reformes failed to make honours even - N
Princes in snub to Burrell's last secret - N
Everest conquered in 8hr 10min - I
Unions step closer to co-ordinated strikes - N
Matthew Parris: Give yourself two years, Tony, then quit - N
Julie Burchill: I see in those photos why we are fighting - N
Patience Wheatcroft: "No wonder Sir Christopher Gent has opted for GSK rather than Marks & Spencer or Sainsbury' - N
Leading Article: Iraq strategy: Time for realism, not depression - N
Letters to the Editor: Use and abuse of power in Iraq - N
Obiquary: Lord Murray of Epping Forest, OBE, PC - General Secretary of the TUC - N
BBC ends months of turmoil - N
Killers 'led by Saddam's nephew' - N
Tackling things nicely - S
Did skydiver who fell to his death cut his own parachute? - N
Livingstone takes aim at four-wheel drive 'idiots' - L
Police officer stabbed to death - L
Chelsea owner in Kremlin's sights over tax - N
Partners condemn protest fathers - N
The day the tanks arrived at Rafah zoo - I
Unemployment time bomb is ticking - N
Director's props (travel feature) - I (although news value is debatable)
Fate of Russia's lost art treasure - I
House buying spree likely to bring new interest rate rise - N
The ugly face of power (U.S. election) - I
I would say that today, at least, the Times (London) doesn't seem to do much better than the American newspapers in the international arena. The Guardian does slightly better, although I think its international news stories tend to be about Europe, Israel, or the U.S., which are all nearby (consider that LON-TLV is a closer distance than NYC-LAX). Relative to other stories, I seldom see stories about remote areas of Asia or Africa in either group of newspaper, and stories about the Americas are far more likely in U.S. papers while stories about Europe are far more likely in British papers. Big surprise.
Every time I hear the figure it changes for some reason. Probably because the number of Americans with passports is not something that the government actually keeps track of. However, this guy estimates about 20 percent.
Consider how far a U.S. citizen can go from the U.S. without a passport. Of course you can visit the whole of the U.S., an area almost 2.5 times as big as the area of the EU, and with a population of 2/3 its size, which includes far-flung states such as Alaska and Hawaii.
You can also visit Canada, Mexico, and many Carribean countries without a passport.
Consider how far a British citizen can go without a passport. The UK and Ireland. And oh yeah, the Channel Islands, can't forget them. To take advantage of a USD 60 Ryanair flight from London to Paris (a shorter distance than that between Dallas and Houston) you need a passport.
The cost of airfare alone from somewhere in the U.S. to somewhere interesting that requires a passport is probably overwhelming for most American families, whereas Brits can get somewhere else for cheap.
Try comparing U.S. citizens with passports with Canadians with passports, since they are in a similar situation. I estimate about 26 percent by a similar flawed method that is probably good enough for our purposes. That's not so much more. Whether or not, you agree with my explanation of why most people in the U.S. lack U.S. passports, if anyone is going to condemn Americans for it, they should also condemn Canadians.
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