This is a chart about the world through the eyes of the US. There is always that one country on our collective conscious, and I wanted to know how that has changed over time. So I turned to the newspaper, since headlines have long been the catalyst for daily conversations about what is going on in the world. Most of that content is still preserved thanks to the New York Times archive. After looking at 741,681 section front headlines, I found out which countries around the world have preoccupied Americans the most each month since 1900.
A sample of the three months with the most country mentions.
Want to go deeper on what we found in NYT headlines? Go check out a brief history of the past 100 years.
Data and Method
Headlines for every month were collected from the New York Times Archive API. They were then filtered down to only entries of type “article” that were a page one (front page or section front) story. The appearance of a country was flagged by looking for the common English country name, commonly used acronym, demonym, large cities, previously used country names, and a handful of colloquial references. The country of Jersey was excluded from this analysis because of too many references to New Jersey. Results were manually reviewed for false positives, and the scripts were re-run to see if a new top country emerged. Due to an issue with the API, there is no data available for 1964, and Sep and Oct of 1978. Months with less than five results for a single country were excluded. Flags images from here.