It’s major breaking news stories like this that reveal some of the key differences between the two news giants.
Around lunchtime, the BBC website led with the relatively positive phrase “200 people rescued” while the top breaking story on Sky News online focused on the “11 missing”.
As usual, the BBC coverage was authoritative, measured and reassuring, whilst Sky was comparatively sensational and breathless. With any breaking news story, I always turn to Sky first for the very latest updates delivered in vivid colours and dramatic phrases. I then turn to the BBC for the bigger picture and calmer analysis, constantly flicking between the two to keep it interesting.
This is probably a sign of how our attention spans are getting shorter, with the increasing use of instant, real-time technology.
Both outlets used the word “unprecedented” many times throughout the day. Sky managed to use “unprecedented”, “deluge” and “historic” within a 20 second period, whilst the BBC opted for “very extreme” and “worst in over a hundred years”.
The BBC had quite a few aerial shots (literally looking at the bigger picture), discussing the effect on businesses as well as speaking to some residents. Sky News’ Colin Brazier was talking to the ‘man-on-the-street ‘ in Cumbria, focusing much more on the human angle. There were plenty of people wanting to talk him.
Sky was marginally “First for breaking news” when it confirmed at 15:22 that the body found was PC Bill Barker, just a few seconds before the BBC interrupted an interview to make the same announcement.
And finally, Sky News’ weather presenter, Francis Wilson , sounded a bit like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons when he called it the “worst rain ever”.