Friday, April 22, 2005

What They Say About What We Do


Watching America translates and catalogs stories about the U.S. from media outlets around the world, providing a useful window into how Poles, Ghanaians, Cubans, Koreans and others think about the United States and how they react to U.S. moves. The site also tries to include links to audio, video, and original stories and transcripts, allowing linguistically inclined readers to double-check translations for spin.

Some of the themes will be familiar to readers of U.S. newspapers (overseas attacks on favorite whipping boy Paul Wolfowitz, Cuban accusations that the U.S. is up to no good, etc.) but most will not be. The sheer range of possible interpretation of U.S. actions can be startling.

The Middle East Media Research Institute performs a similar function to Watching America's, although it focuses exclusively on the Middle East, layers its own analyses over native-language source materials, and includes many stories that are unflattering to the Arab nations (crazy lawsuits against "the Jews" for stealing trillions of tons of Egyptian gold during the Exodus; tales of U.S. soldiers stripping Iraqi corpses for their flesh and/or organs) .

Compare and contrast. Both sites are sure broaden any diet of American news and liven up a slow domestic news day.

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