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The Nation

From Al Jazeera to BBC, Conventions Are Hot Story

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq make this year's party nominating events extra compelling for the global media.

July 23, 2004|Nick Anderson | Times Staff Writer

Because the United States is the world's dominant power, analysts say, foreigners can't afford to ignore American politics. White House decisions on military troop deployments, strategic arms, international trade, fiscal policy, immigration, environmental protection and a host of other issues reverberate around the world every day.

"It's not new to other countries that what we do matters," said John Hamilton, an expert on foreign news coverage and dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. "But some things have changed. One is that the United States is now perceived abroad in a very negative way compared to the way we were seen after the Second World War."

Many foreign reporters based in the United States have been covering the presidential campaign since the Iowa caucuses. The State Department's foreign press centers organized trips to Des Moines in January and then to New Hampshire and South Carolina for the subsequent primaries. Officials said attendance on these trips was about 25% higher than four years ago.

Jose Carreno, Washington correspondent for the Mexican newspaper El Universal, has gone to nearly every convention since 1984. He said some of his Latin American peers would be going to the conventions this year for the first time.

Carreno plans to watch how the Democrats and Republicans court Latino voters and what they say to people worldwide.

"For the average American, it may be dull," Carreno said. "But if you look at it from a foreign point of view, a lot of the speeches could be important pronouncements. So we are looking for meaning."

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