"Most of the news and stories are incredibly exaggerated and don't even come close to what's really important. I just wish people outside of this country would stop stereotyping Americans based on what they read in the news and see on TV"
It's the same everywhere, even in the US. I'm canadian, and I watch both american news and international news. I know and talk to a lot of people living elsewhere. Most of the international news you have is blown up to be more sensational. Of course, there's a backbone of truth, but it's always blown up because journalists sell stories, pictures and footages, and they'll have a better price if the material is "better".
I attended a LAN party a couple of months ago. It was from 5PM to 11AM the next morning, and the persons in charge had prepared a room where gamers could sleep if tired. The local media came to see us. When they came, they were surprised that no one was sleeping, everyone was playing. But they liked the IDEA so much that they asked some gamers to pretend to sleep there since it showed how hard-core they were. I personally tought it would have been more hard-core to show the room empty, but anyway.
The point was that the news footage ended with this image of gamers "sleeping", and some lame comments from the reporter. This was the last image people saw.
Now, this was some small unsignificant event in a local town, but the reflex is there for journalists everywhere.
A columnist in Montreal went to Irak a couple of years ago to report on the life of the people there. Not the regime, not Saddam, but the people there. He was saying that the youngsters wear baseball caps of american teams, listen to american music, etc. Irak is (was) the most developped country in the middle east before 1990, and one of the least "hardcore muslim", compared to others, including allies like Saudi Arabia.
And he said that manifestations where people burn the american flag are organized by the regime, and the protesters are selected and "encouraged" by the police. Of course, the american media show these demonstrations. Not the teens wearing the baseball caps. Too mundane.
So I'm with you all the way on that.