News executives have long wed themselves to the narrative that there is a lack of U.S. audience appetite for international news. But is that true?

At Global Press, our international news organization that trains and employs local women journalists in some of the world’s least covered places, we’ve observed the opposite trend for years now. Founded in 2006, Global Press never sought to directly serve a U.S. audience. But over the years, that audience has grown, and in doing so forced us to take steps to better understand who these readers were and why they were flocking to these stories.  

Today, we’re pleased to release a new report, “Unlocking U.S. Audience Demand for International News,” which reveals a large, untapped reservoir of demand among U.S. audiences for higher-quality international journalism. Along with our partners, Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, an independent public opinion research firm, and Wonder: Strategies for Good, experts in analyzing public opinion research, our study aims to determine what kind of international news stories U.S.-based audiences are most interested in consuming. 

Our research sought to answer an important and under-researched set of questions: Is it that people don’t care about the world? Or is it perhaps possible that people are fatigued by the disaster narratives that the media forces upon them? Are they disinterested or do they just lack better options?

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest the latter. Readers are hungry for stories and information that allow them to see the world differently.  In August 2022, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey revealed that what news consumers in the U.S. ages 16 to 40 most want from the news is “diverse points of view and to help people understand communities and people unlike their own.” Similarly, according to a Reuters Institute survey conducted in 2022, international news ranked as the second most interesting news topic behind local news. 

In our research study, U.S.-based respondents who identify as regular news readers, were presented with a myriad of options for what high-quality international journalism can look like and evaluated the latent demand of these readers for such journalism. The methodology included a large-scale nationwide survey as well as a curated set of in-depth interviews and a multiday asynchronous focus group.

The results were remarkable. Our study established that there is a deep reservoir of untapped demand from readers in the United States, across a wide range of demographics, for international journalism that is local, precise, and representative. It also solved the puzzle of why U.S.-based audiences do not proactively seek out such journalism today. 

These findings present a new way forward for the media industry—and just in time. The end of the pandemic represents an unprecedented opportunity for a readjustment of priorities. This is the perfect time to embark on a new model of international journalism. And there are concrete action steps that both newsrooms and media funders can take to ensure we’re doing everything we can to provide U.S.-based audiences with the access to information they need to better understand the world and their places in it. 

About the Authors

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Chief Operating Officer, Global Press
Laxmi Parthasarathy is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Press, where she leads worldwide operations, oversees local audience development, and launched the Global Press News Services division. Prior to Global Press, Laxmi served as Director of Global Media Partnerships at Ashoka, the world’s largest association of social entrepreneurs. Over her career, she has lived and worked around the world, from Rwanda to Swaziland, and led media development initiatives in more than a dozen countries. She is the author of "The Bottom-Up Media Revolution: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Building Trust Between Communities and the Media" and an author of the book "Kamala Harris and the Rise of Indian Americans" (Wisdom Tree, 2021). Laxmi has been named a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Mentor and one of six American Express Next Generation Leaders. She holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and graduated from Carleton University. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Laxmi is the founder of My Roots, a Toronto-based media organization and quarterly print publication. She now lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.

Cristi Hegranes

CEO, Global Press
Cristi Hegranes is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Press, a nonprofit news organization she founded in 2006 to train and employ local women journalists in some of the world’s least-covered places. At a time when many people have lost trust in the media, she is working to rebuild it by connecting readers with the journalists who are closest to the narrative in their own communities. Cristi has received many honors and awards for her work, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Journalism Innovation Prize, the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism, and the Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovation, among others. Cristi teaches at Georgetown University and was a Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Stanford University. She is the author of the forthcoming book (Forbes, September 2023) "Byline: How Local Journalists Can Improve the Global News Industry and Change the World." Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cristi now lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her toddler son Henry.