Representations of Inequality in Global Television News


Digital futures build on a hybrid present. As Chadwick (2017) has convincingly argued, the contemporary media system is characterized by interactions among ‘old’ and ‘new’ media and the genres and norms associated with them. Authors like him and Noble (2018) remind us that biases in and exclusions from representations in media that pre-date the digital era are inherited and perpetuated by the digital media that preoccupy so many scholars. If the digital future is to be reimagined, it is thus necessary to be clear about representations in the hybrid present - in hybrid media such as global television, which is disseminated online as well as on screen. With this conviction as its starting point, our paper examines representations of social inequality, including information inequality and the technological divide, in four global television news outlets between 2009 and 2019. The work of Al Jazeera English, BBC World, CNN International and Russia’s RT in ‘framing inequality’ for global rather than national audiences (the focus of Guardino 2019, among others) is analysed by comparing how representations vary according to the ‘place’ of news (Usher 2019), what attention is paid to which inequalities, and whose voices are heard. The empirical study is conducted in two steps. The first is a content analysis of programmes broadcast in four years of constructed weeks (covering 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2019). The second is a closer reading, informed by narrative method, of selected news items relating to our shared - or fragmented - digital future. Taken together, the results of the two empirical steps form the basis for a discussion of whether global news in the hybrid present can be thought more likely to highlight the nefarious costs of connection (Couldry & Mejias 2019) or, conversely, to foster the connectivity envisaged by cosmopolitanism (Robertson 2010, 2015), which can be thought to help reinforce the values that abet inclusiveness, respect and reciprocity, as advocated in the conference theme. The paper reports preliminary findings from a 4-year project about the communicative dimension of inequality under globalization.


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Couldry, N. & U.A. Meijas (2019) The Costs of Connection. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Guardino, M. (2019) Framing Inequality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noble, S.U. (2018) Algorithms of Oppression. How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: New York University Press.

Robertson, Alexa (2015) Global News: reporting conflicts and cosmopolitanism. New York and London: Peter Lang

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Usher, N. (2019) ‘Putting “Place” in the Center of Journalism Research: A Way Forward to Understand Challenges to Trust and Knowledge in News’, Journalism & Communication Monographs Vol. 21(2): 84-146.