The focus of this page is to provide a theoretical analysis comparing the news reporting of CNN and the BBC, both of whom are highly regarded media outlets. My feature story relates to the assassination of a North Korean national believed to be Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Boykoff, 2017).

Kim Jong Nam. Photo: Getty Images

According to the CNN report, the murder occurred on February 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Maylasia (Boykoff, Quiano, & McCleary, 2017). Kim Jong Nam was accosted by two women who allegedly rubbed his face and eyes with the lethal toxin - VX nerve agent. He reported the incident to airport authorities and received medical assistance. However, he was dead within 20 minutes.

CCTV Photos: New York Times

I noted many similarities between the CNN and BBC news reports. Both chronicled Kim Jong Nam's movement prior to the attack, how the attack was carried out and the series of events that followed. The reports identified two women as perpetrators of the crime, the names of several additional suspects who were later arrested and others wanted for questioning by the Malaysian authorities. Both reports described in detail the extreme danger of the VX nerve agent. However, the BBC referenced the United Nations classification of the agent as a weapon of mass destruction (BBC, 2017) while the CNN story (Boykoff, 2017), described it as an "internationally banned substance" (par. 5). Both news stories included interviews with experts who talked about any present or future health risks at the airport.

The BBC differentiated its news story by further detailing Kim Jong Nam's life story and including a link to a story about North Korea notoriety for assassinations (BBC, 2017). I believe the BBC provided a more in depth story about Kim to cater to its diverse audience, particularly those in Asia and across Europe. However, overall there are few differences in the theme and style of the CNN and BBC reports. I posted two videos below which summarizes the content of both stories.

The McPhail (2014) text references the Europeanization of the European Union (EU) through "integration and communication" (p. 171). While the hope of advocates is to use mass media as a platform to foster unity across the EU, the BBC's news story needs more EU relevance to support that objective. The European Broadcasting Union of which the United Kingdom and more specifically, the BBC is a member, is an important advocate.


Boykoff, P., Quiano, K. & McCleary, K. (2017, February 27). Suspect in Kim Jong Nam death thought she used baby oil, official say. CNN. Retrieved from

Kim Jong-nam killing: 'VX nerve agent' found on his face (2017, February 24). BBC News. Retrieved from

McPhail, T. L. (2014). Global communication: Theories, stakeholders and trends (4th ed.). Chichester, SXW: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Kirk Johnson

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