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Discovering Differences

August 29th, 2009 by Jessika

What do the BBC, NPR, and Wired Science have in common? Well, beside the fact that I plan to follow these sites, not much.


Of the three, the BBC and NPR have the most similar content, reporting on news around the world. But, even so, each site’s coverage is different.

Take, for example, one of the most prominent stories in the news on August 28, 2009: Jaycee Dugard, a young woman recently found after being kidnapped 18 years ago. The screenshots for the BBC and NPR (above right and below left, respectively) show that they covered this story. However, the placement and prominence of the story are different.

A picture of Dugard greets the viewer at the top, left-hand side of the BBC’s main webpage. This positioning suggests that the BBC views Dugard as the most important story of the day.


NPR’s coverage of Dugard also shows up on the main webpage. Yet, Dugard does not hold the top, left-hand spot. The headline and summary of her story show up to the right of and below the lead story. Ted Kennedy’s death holds the most prominent NPR spot.

Coverage of Kennedy’s death does appear on the BBC site. However, at first glance, it is hard to find. The headline “Thousands mourn Kennedy in Boston” sits just below the headline for the latest news on Michael Jackson’s death. Jackson appears much lower on the NPR page. His story does not even show up on the screenshot.

So, in looking at the home page coverage of each of those stories, it becomes clear that the BBC and NPR do not handle news in the same way.  Each site sets different priorities for its content based on its readership and editors.


Wired Science even more so caters to its readership, focusing strictly on science related news.  This site deals with subject matter that a reader would more than likely not see on the main web page of either the BBC or NPR.

For example, the most recent blog post talks about NASA mission patches. The entry even has a slide show of some of those patches. While the BBC and NPR may have stories about NASA on the front page, it is very unlikely that either of them would devote an entire front-page entry to NASA mission patches.

So, by now it should be obvious that appearances are not always what they seem. Each news site is unique, just as each reader is unique.

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