US and UK News Reporting Coverage of HIV

U.S./U.K. News Reporting Coverage of HIV

British and American news coverage of HIV treatments is vastly different. The BBC coverage is broader and offers far more insight into experimental treatments than the CNN Web site. In fact, the CNN Web site unnecessarily politicizes HIV by including more stories about politician’s speeches mentioning HIV and AIDS than about treatments and breakthroughs for the disease.

For example, on the CNN Web site, a headline reads, “President Bush: Faith key to international AIDS fight.” The story details how President Bush supports a program raising money for faith-based AIDS prevention programs in Africa. Interestingly, the program does not include funding for research into medical treatments. CNN neglects reporting on medical interventions in order to offer more political coverage that does not address how to treat HIV / AIDS from a scientific perspective. The remainder of CNN’s coverage about HIV treatments also reveals a dearth of articles that cover medical interventions. Like the BBC, though, CNN does offer some stories that show how HIV is affecting poor nations and poor people worldwide.

The BBC does not mention the faith-based program in their recent coverage of the HIV crisis. Instead, stories like Calvi’s “The Battle for the HIV ‘morning after’ drug” detail emerging, even if controversial, pharmaceutical interventions. The BBC story addresses a drug called “post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)” which “has been shown in studies to reduce the chance of infection after the HIV virus has entered the body by 80%,” (Calvi 2006). Calvi also notes that efforts to prescribe the drug more readily have been stymied, even though PEP could have prevented infection. Other BBC articles about HIV / AIDS are political but more in terms of how HIV affects the poor.

2. Neither the BBC nor CNN report on environmental issues directly in terms of the democratic and republican positions. Yet each source of news does cover environmental issues with some spin. Based on their Web site content, the British and American media present environmental issues differently. Both Web sites deliver pages dedicated to coverage of climate change and related issues. The American content includes more stories detailing the perspectives of those who doubt human responsibility for global warming.

On the BBC, top climate change-related headlines are alarmist including one about potential crop devastation and also how climate change will affect Britain’s coasts directly. No main headline reveals a perspective that denies human responsibility for climate change. On CNN, a few alarmist headlines are tempered by one about Southern Baptist leaders who disagree over whether or not human beings cause climate change. A second article addresses climate change from a skeptical perspective: “Global warming: A natural cycle or human result?”

BBC article entitled “EU warns of climate change threat” reveals the social consequences of global climate change. Population migration and clashes over resource allocation could lead to military conflicts, for example. The American coverage on CNN is far less insightful, focusing more on the ongoing debate over the human factor. CNN’s Tanneeru reports on how global warming is affecting Antarctica but not without politicizing the issue. The BBC resists nitpicking about human impacts on climate change and instead focuses on the future, on the repercussions of climate change on human beings and the earth regardless of what caused it.

3. The BBC and CNN offer strikingly similar perspectives and coverage of the ongoing war in Iraq. On their respective Middle East news Web pages, the BBC and CNN offer stories covering the latest incidents of violence in the crisis, even if the headline stories are different. On the BBC, the top headline in the Middle East section on April 11, 2008 is one that reads, “Key Sadr aide shot dead in Iraq.” The story details the assassination of a relative of a radical Shia cleric. On CNN, the headline story on the Middle East section reads “Mortar fires strikes landmark hotel in Baghdad.” Thus, both leading stories detail a violent event that occurred recently in Iraq rather than a political issue. The event is covered objectively on both Web sites.

However, both the British and the American news Web sites do offer varying political perspectives on the war. On the Web site, a headline reads, “Iraqi envoy: This is wrong time for U.S. To leave.” Ancillary news stories on the CNN Web site appear equally as supportive of keeping the troops in and a “highlight” excerpt from the original piece reads, “Sumaidaie says next president will agree U.S. troops have to stay in Iraq.” The spin on the story continues with highlights that suggest that the question of whether to stay or leave is “all about getting votes” and that leaving must be done in a “responsible manner.”

The BBC seems to take a more cynical or at least sobering approach to the war in Iraq and the question of whether to stay or go now. The BBC even comes close to criticizing the way the Bush administration has been handling the war. For example, an entire section of the BBC Middle East page is entitled “Iraq: Five Years on,” and the three top headlines include one that reads, “Bush is ‘avoiding Iraq decisions,'” and another that reads, “U.S. Stalls on Iraq Amnesty Order.” The latter story includes details about U.S. troop and military deaths. In contrast, the CNN piece does not mention U.S. soldier deaths and instead simply focuses on the opinions of the envoy.


1. HIV

Calvi, N. (2006). The battle for the HIV ‘morning after’ drug. BBC. February 9, 2006. Retrieved April 11, 2008 at

President Bush: Faith key to international AIDS fight.” December 1, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2008 at

2. Climate Change

Kroeger, a. (2008). EU warns of climate change threat. BBC News. March 10, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008 at

Tanneeru, M. (2008). Global warming: A natural cycle or human result? April 8, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008 at

3. Iraq

Bush is ‘avoiding Iraq decisions.'” (2008). BBC News. April 11, 2008.

Keyes, C. (2008). Iraqi envoy: This is wrong time for U.S. To leave. April 11, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008 at

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