Four services provide the majority of the international news available to most nations of the world: Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and United Press International. All are based in Europe or the U.S. and so reflect the interests of readers in those portions of the world. In this brilliant and exhaustive examination of these servicesplus the news-gathering groups that have tried and are trying to supplement themFenby, a former correspondent and editor for Reuters, argues that the ``Big Four'' do a credible job despite thin staffing and economic hardships. Third World countries do not see it that way, however, he notes; using UNESCO as a spearhead, they have demanded more and better coverage, complaining that the ``Big Four'' accentuate the negative aspects of news from their parts of the world. But many emerging nations also seek to maintain government control of the flow and content of news, so that the problem of editorial objectivity eludes a simple resolution, in Fenby's view. (March 25)
This study was commissioned to investigate complaints made by Third World countries about bias in Western news agencies' coverage of non-Western news. A careful, thoughtful study by a former Reuters reporter, it suggests less malign reasons (though no easier to solve) for the relatively monolithic and negative Western view of a Third World dominated by ``coups, crises, and disasters.'' Fenby examines AP, UPI, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse and the way they staff their agencies, decide what's news, respond to political pressure, and so forth. He finds, a la Herbert Gans's Deciding What's News ( LJ 3/15/79), that internal organizational pressuresand in this case sheer dominance of the news marketplays a larger role in determining content than any overt or covert bias. A valuable book for both those professionally interested in the news field and those interested in its sociopolitical ramifications. Dan Levinson, English Dept., Thayer Acad., Braintree, Mass.