Cultural Differences In News (Continued)

Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay

This is the 2nd half of the post. The 1st half is here.

Myth and History

American news is never reported in a way that mixes myths and news. Even if when it is a piece of news about a myth, for example, “Groundhog Day”, which fell on Feb 2 this year, the myth was not elaborated or talked in detail. More emphasis was given to people’s gathering, the crowd, and some photogenic people who were interviewed and allowed to express their opinions in front of the camera.

Also if a piece of news is about a historical event, only very brief historical references are given and stories are related. And the reporting is always sticking to the well accepted historical facts rather than rumors or hearsay. Even if when it is a piece of news about a ghost–around Halloween, there are many pieces of news like that–the emphasis is always more on people’s activities and people’s reaction to the ghost rather than the ghost itself.

And Asian news in this aspect is very different. Myths are completely mixed together with news reporting. If one is not careful, one might mistake a myth for a fact. And myths are dwelled on with such relish that everything else is obscured. Also reports on historical events usually mix well-accepted historical facts with legends and hearsay. They do it with such a delight that it is often hard to separate which is which. I guess in our Asian mind set, history is a fiction written by winners anyway. Isn’t it paradoxical that we respect and worship the old, the past and the dead, but on the other hand we never really trust them?


“He is very quiet and very polite. I can’t believe he did such a thing.” One can hear a neighbor talking about a killer, who’s just been arrested, to a reporter. Whenever there’s such a tragedy, neighbors always come in front of the camera to express their shock and disbelief. This often makes me wonder that these killers are often good or at least OK neighbors. They are only bad towards other people; towards their neighbors they are normal.

This is what you get on American news. In Asian news, on the other hand, neighbors never come out to talk like that. If one of their neighbors is arrested as a serial killer, you can bet all the neighbors will hide themselves. The last thing they want to do is to show their faces in front of the national TV.

I can just imagine the following conversation happening between a reporter and a killer’s neighbor:

“Do you know this murderer?” The report asks.

“No. How can you suggest that I know this murderer? That’s so unlucky. No, I don’t know this person. All my acquaintances are normal people, OK? ” The neighbor says and disappears immediately.


When there was such a turmoil in UK politics, the news often mentioned Larry, the resident cat of 10 Downing Street. It was said Larry lasted longer than any prime minister and Larry was beloved by everybody. There are also videos of Larry fighting dogs, pigeons, or other animals, sometimes twice its size. Needless to say, Larry is loved and admired; he has millions of fans and well wishers.

That’s it. That’s the news. For an Asian mind, that’s just not enough. How can you describe such a famous pet without talking about the food he eats, bed he sleeps on, bath routines he has, the vet he visits? If Larry is really so beloved, he should have three gourmet meals every day. He should not be fed canned cat food. Also the prime minister’s secretary should bring him pieces of sirloin or salmon regularly from state dinners or events like that. And it is obvious that he should have a bath, or even two baths, every day…

23 thoughts on “Cultural Differences In News (Continued)

  1. Very interesting two part analysis. American neighbors are often caught admitting that they do not really get to know their neighbors! My daughter-in-law from El Salvador always watches the Hispanic news channels when she is alone but watches the American shows when she is with English only speakers like me. I think she has mentioned differences before but not with your depth and precision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your sweet encouragement. I am learning Spanish now and it is so difficult. One verb can be morphed into 16 different conjugations. Thank goodness English is not like that. I mean I would go totally crazy if every English verb has so many forms. Sorry, I should be more complimentary to Spanish. I told myself to stay positive today but I just revert back to my old self again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A superb pair of posts regarding a subject I find very interesting, Haoyan. I haven’t watched the news for many years. I no longer watch shows full of talking heads analysing the day’s events either. I might read news online once or twice a week, and if I do, it’s the analysis I’m after. If I’m driving long distances, I may tune into talk back radio.

    So, why the change? In short, it’s because I ended up (and I am now), back on the other side of the fence re what makes the news. I have known many journalists over the years – some very good ones and those I keep away from. I get asked for interviews and statements regularly and next week will be no exception. I need to keep ahead of what’s happening, so I’m forever undertaking my own research and analysis. The news just doesn’t cut it any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right. Recently I read a book about Asia and it points out one or two people being talking heads. And guess what, these people are often in the news talking about Asia and I often watch it. They pretend to be an expert, but they are not. You are right. One needs to do one’s research so that one can become more discerning.

      Liked by 1 person

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