A Sign of The Times
British expats (or at least the 100,000 or so that allegedly live in the New York area) will no doubt be rejoicing at the news that The Times intends to begin printing a US edition from next week onwards. Never one to miss an opportunity, Rupert Murdoch's proposal coincides nicely with the start of the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world yet generally overlooked by the US media. Cue pages upon pages of excellent coverage, interlaced with copious amounts of cross-publicising of Sky, 20th Century Fox and the like.
If there was one thing that I miss most about the UK (football aside of course) then it would be the best aspects of the media back home. It's not clear if News Corp are planning to produce a US edition of the Sunday Times also, but if so, do not be surprised to see a British expat doing a merry dance down Fifth Avenue.
There has been a version of the Financial Times produced in the US for some time, and whilst impressive (especially at weekends), it does not as its name implies, provide information on a wide variety of topics. The weekly versions (amongst others) of the Guardian and the Telegraph meanwhile lost their relevance with the advent of the Internet for me.
With perhaps the notable exceptions of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, US newspapers are diverse, lightly-circulated and locally-oriented. Americans are renowned for their lack of interest and knowledge in global affairs, and unfortunately the media do little to remove their blinkers. To put it into perspective, the most widely circulated US newspaper (the ghastly USA Today) sells fewer copies than the aforementioned The Sun despite the obvious population differences between the countries.
Despite their obvious journalistic and intellectual depth, both the aforementioned 'quality' US newspapers have an awful habit of cramming so many stories onto their front pages, that it requires usually one, and often more page-turns to reach their conclusions. This would be annoying enough if they used the hugely popular tabloid sized pages of their UK counterparts, but they persist with a broadsheet. Clearly they didn't have their core urban commuter readership in mind.
Both also use a tiresome style of writing which tries to bring a personal touch to every story, when the mere facts would suffice. An article about say job losses in the Midwest would begin, "Hank Pirelli gazes longingly out of his Detroit apartment window, the GM car plant that used to employ him and promised his family security, just visible in the distance. Hank, like countless others, never expected this day to come..."
The use of random members of the public (often portrayed by actors) is also prevalent in US television commercials, which perhaps makes you wonder if Americans simply don't trust or believe what they hear or see if the message comes direct from a faceless company, or via a factual story in the media. Viewers of English football on the Fox Soccer Channel (also owned by Murdoch) are bombarded at half-time by testimonially-based commercials, demanding that you buy a 'risk-free' sample of products for hair growth, erectile dysfunction or weight loss (which suggests that at least they've done their research on their core audience).
Even BBC America is sadly not commerical-free, but at least it provides a warm British-style sanctuary even if they insist on showing back-to-back episodes during the day of Changing Rooms, What Not To Wear and Cash in the Attic. The Fox Soccer Channel meanwhile shows a couple of hours of Sky Sports News every day, and has very recently begun to show a recorded hour of Sky News.
Most vitally however, every single World Cup game will be available in high-definition (on either ABC or ESPN). Worryingly of course this probably means we will either be subjected to a Soccer AM-style 'Boston Goals' production from American commentators, or worse a commentary from ESPN's very own Derek Rae, a Scottish expat who can only be described as an absolute idiot.