Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2009

Chances for the Newcomer: The communication balance of the United Nations in an international comparison

June 2007

Media Tenor International


Representatives of the UN played only a minor role in the coverage of German, US and South African news outlets. Graph 1 illustrates Kofi Annan’s weak presence, for example, in US television news. Although the aftermath of 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq crisis in 2002 were great challenges for the UN, the General Secretary was only a marginal figure. Instead, the TV audiences in the US were overloaded with information on Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Even in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the UN, general awareness of Kofi Annan was only slightly higher. Annan’s report on the reform of the United Nations, “In Larger Freedom”, was barely mentioned in the main news of ABC, NBC and CBS.