Head to the homepages of major news sites today, and you’ll get the impression that the bombing near the Iranian embassy in Beirut, the early warnings about HealthCare.gov’s technical problems, and the travail’s of Toronto’s scandal-saturated mayor are among the biggest stories in the world right now.
Or are they?
Defining what’s news, as any editor will tell you, is an inherently subjective exercise, and a new set of charts by the Oxford Internet Institute’s Information Geographies blog captures more than three decades of our efforts to do so.
The map above shows locations mentioned in news coverage of events between 1979 and 2013, as compiled by the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT). Researchers Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata pored over the database and isolated 43 million events in which the primary actors were located in different places, and then plotted the results. The brighter the line in the image above, the more links there are between locations.
It’s a visual that offers some interesting insights about the countries that have dominated headlines since 1979.
[Image: Amr Nabil/AP]
Egyptian protestors shine laser lights on a military helicopter flying over the presidential palace in Cairo, on June 30, 2013, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gather during a protest calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
See more. [Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters, Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images]
- "I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day. I felt like I was blinded by headlights."
— Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg, where the meteorite hit in the Urals Mountains
- "What was it? People said it was a plane that fell and exploded. I saw a bright blast from behind me. Everything was lit up, very bright light. It was like from Armageddon movie when the meteorite rain started, I really thought it was like doomsday. It was so scary especially the explosion. It was very strong. I am speechless. It was so strong. My camera couldn’t reproduce how strong the bang was.’”
— Gulnara Dudka, a woman in her 20s
[Images: Reuters; screenshot]