The brutal Nov. 1 slaying of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, has been front-page news in Britain and Italy since the story broke, says the Seattle Times. The styles of the two nations’ media could hardly be less similar. The British tabloid press, famous for its seminude “page-three girls” and slang-filled headlines, has taken to referring to murder suspect Amanda Knox as “Foxy Knoxy,” and has focused on gruesome details of the slaying. The Italian press, with its flowery language and sometimes contradictory reporting, calls the 20-year-old Seattle native and University of Washington student “L’americana” or by her first name, while concentrating on the minutiae of the investigation.
Media experts say the differences reflect more than news judgment. “In every country, the style of the media is a function of the culture,” says Paul Smith, a professor of cultural studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. While U.S. newspaper coverage of violent tragedies is usually straightforward, fact-driven and focused on major breaks in the story, the British and Italian press each feast on the tiniest developments. “I think that British people tend to look at many stories from a personal perspective,” says Lucy Beresford, a London psychotherapist, writer and media commentator. “Perhaps they want to know certain things because they may have a daughter about to study abroad and a story like this worries them.