I don't know if it's still the case, but in my experience of living in the US (mostly California) newspapers in the US tend to be parochial and concern themselves only with what is going on in the US, and to an extent Canada. International news rarely features unless it's very major. Obviously there are exceptions such as the NYT. How are people then to learn about other countries in the world? The US is an enormous country and evidently very powerful, but there's a lot more out there.

On a related topic, I was astonished when I first discovered what proportion of Americans held passports. I forget now what the numbers were, but it was pretty small. I didn't realize then that passports weren't then needed for travel to nearby countries such as the Caribbean, but even so it suggests that at any rate back then most Americans never saw outside their immediate environment.

I was pretty surprised when teaching some teenagers to dive two or three years ago that they had virtually no experience of the 24 hour clock and none at all of the metric system. In today's global village it helps to have some idea how the guy next door is thinking.

I'm sure 9-11 has changed a lot of this, but that was quite recent. It isn't really very surprising that many young Americans don't have much of a clue what's going on in Europe, or Australia, or Africa, etc. It's not a criticism of them, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed.