How does news coverage in the US and the UK compare?

While the race for the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was unfolding this summer, a group of St. Bonaventure University students studying in Oxford explored the differences between news coverage in the United States and the UK.

During a six-week Media and Democracy course at Trinity College, Oxford University, the students examined the CNN and BCC websites. They compared overall content on the organizations’ homepages, as well as differences in the tone and manner with each site covered the same stories and the same individuals.

The students found three major differences:

  • CNN tended to present stories in a more sensational manner than the BBC, using headlines to attract viewers. For example, for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, CNN posted a story speculating on the visit to would affect relations between the U.S. and China and possibly lead to war. The BBC reported the facts of the visit with new details as they unfolded. 
  • CNN placed a greater emphasis on international issues, while the BBC’s content was focused on news in the United Kingdom.
  • The BBC’s homepage was better organized with easy access to central topics, whereas the volume and variety of content on CNN made the site intimidating and difficult to use. The BBC’s search engine was more effective than CNN’s.

The students also followed the Conservative Party leadership election, which will determine the United Kingdom’s next Prime Minister.

The race began with eight candidates on July 12. After five ballots, the field was narrowed down to two candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

In an informal poll conducted at the end of the course, all eight students in the course predicted that Sunak would win the election. The winner will be announced Monday when members of Parliament return from their summer break.



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