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How National, Local, and Foreign Media Outlets Work in Washington, D.C.

Press in Washington, D.C., is unavoidable. National media and many foreign media outlets have requisite Washington bureaus. The former includes The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, both of which regularly break major Washington stories. For many years, big city newspapers across America also maintained a presence in the capital, although in recent years budget shortfalls have forced many of these outlets to shut their Washington bureaus.

Of course, Washington also has its own local media market. The Washington Post is the major local paper, and because local news is national news (remember that “local” break-in at the Watergate?), it competes with the Times and Journal for a national audience.

Since 1982, The Washington Post has also competed with The Washington Times, a conservative paper that was a favorite of Ronald Reagan’s but has never succeeded in approaching the Post’s number of subscribers.

Members of the foreign press often show up at committee hearings, conferences, and think-tank talks related to their country of origin, but as a rule they don’t enjoy the same access offered to national media and are far less likely to get any Washington scoops. Here are some of the foreign media outlets that wield the most influence in Washington:

  • The Financial Times and The Economist: These British publications are required reading in official Washington, and (unlike most foreign media outlets) each regularly scoops the American news media on important political and financial stories.

  • BBC America: This TV network is widely watched not just in Washington but throughout the United States.

  • Al Jazeera: An independent broadcast network headquartered in Qatar, Al Jazeera provides Americans with alternative views on important and controversial Middle Eastern developments and also covers America for Middle Eastern audiences through that prism.

  • RT (Russia Today): Owned by the Russian government company RIA Novosti, this TV network has more recently entered the market by broadcasting in English in the United States with its own alternative take on U.S. politics.

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