MEDIA ROUNDUP: US news lures international interest

Forget the claims about countries turning away from the US as a reaction to the war in Iraq.

Forget the claims about countries turning away from the US as a reaction to the war in Iraq.

The global fascination with all things American continues unabated, and as a result the number of foreign reporters in the US is as large as ever. In many ways, the current global geopolitical climate and the US actions in Iraq have only served to whet the appetite for American news in foreign media outlets. "The dichotomy between the politics of Europe and America has created this sort of interest in answering questions such as 'Who are these people' and 'What's going on there?'" says Yolanda Gerritsen, a correspondent with the Dutch magazine Opzij as well as the VP of New York's Foreign Press Association. "Certainly this year there's a lot of interest - television programs are broadcasting here once a week leading up to the elections." Bill Imada, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Imada Wong Communications, says the fact that so many foreign media outlets have stringers or staffers in the US is simply an acknowledgement of America's role not just politically and culturally, but also economically. "The US is one of the biggest economies in the world and the biggest trading partner for most countries in Asia," says Imada, whose firm has a division that targets Asian language publications both in the US and abroad. "Hi-tech stories, automotive stories, anything of economic importance are of huge interest. One of the reasons there's a lot of interest in the US presidential elections is because it's definitely going to have a big impact on trade." Entertainment value Lawrie Masterson, a Hollywood-based freelance entertainment writer for the Australian market as well as the current board chairman of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, says the international interest in all things Hollywood hasn't really changed much over the years, though he notes economic realities have caused many outlets to adjust the way they cover the film world. "Newspapers and magazines, especially the Australian ones, don't have as large a bureau as they used to have here," says Masterson, who writes primarily for the Australia's Sunday Herald Sun newspaper. "They tend to rely more on freelancers and picking things up as they go rather than relying on a large permanent presence here." Masterson notes the movie studios have separate publicity departments for domestic and international press, but suggests foreign entertainment writers are being brought into the mix earlier now that the interest release dates for blockbuster films are no longer months behind the US launch. "A lot of films are going out day and date," he says, adding piracy seems the prime reason for this change. As strange as it may seem, there are even some events in the US that generate only scant media attention from the domestic-based outlets but become huge stories overseas. Imada suggests one recent example was the Taiwanese national elections, which were so close that the votes of the expatriate community in Southern California were considered a key to victory. "The presidential candidates in Taiwan actually campaigned here, and a lot of people actually bought tickets to fly to Taiwan to vote in that election because you couldn't vote by absentee ballot," says Imada. "So, extensive coverage of the Southern California community was aired in Taiwan." Double duty Rosio Corza, media director for Durazo Communications, notes that some foreign language reporters in the US do double duty, writing for ethnic language publications in the US as well as overseas outlets. Corza says this means that some of Durazo's Spanish language campaigns aimed at the US Hispanic market end up generating coverage in Mexico and other Latin America countries. While this can give a client a fairly cost-effective international media outreach program, in many ways it can be a thankless task. Corza suggests most US clients are ambivalent about getting covered in regions where they don't have a major presence, adding, "It's also really hard getting clips and copies of many of those stories."

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