Americans turn to Britain for fresh angles on war on terror

More Americans are turning to British newspapers and websites for a different view of the war against terrorism.

According to a survey, websites of papers such as The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph have seen a substantial increase in traffic from the US since 11 September.

British newspapers sold in the US, such as The Daily Mail, are selling more copies, and public TV stations in the US are increasingly offering news feeds from the BBC and ITN.

Because of Washington’s negative reaction to the unedited replaying on US television of Osama bin Laden’s statements to Al-Jazeera TV, many Americans turned to foreign broadcasts as the only place they could view or hear the terrorist leader’s statements in their entirety.

Americans have, however, been warned that British journalism is different to what they are used to. Trevor Butter-worth, of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, said: "Americans tend to be less critical of the print media in Britain. But print has a different tradition in Britain. It is a much more serious profession in the US, whereas the British press is largely driven by the market." Anne Nelson, from Columbia University’s School of Journalism, in an interview in the Christian Science Monitor, said that the line between opinion and reporting is less defined in the UK. She recommended the Financial Times and the BBC website as top British sources for Americans.

Although British newspapers are favoured because of the common language, it is reported that the website of Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram is also popular with Americans.

In an analysis of the successes of British newspapers, the New York Times credited The Sunday Telegraph with being the only news organisation to report that Osama bin Laden had justified the 11 September attacks on the US in a video tape that was circulated among his supporters.

It also pointed out that when Mullah Muhammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, wanted to express his defiance, it was the BBC World Service he telephoned.

The New York Times credited the succession of scoops on the zeal of British journalists and co-operation from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The paper also said that some UK journalists – notably those who work for tabloids – are known for their "richly imaginative view of accuracy".


By Jeffrey Blyth in New York

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