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Three Media Articles All Depicting the Same News Item Essay Sample

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  • Word count: 2,709
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Introduction of TOPIC

People read articles everyday but opinions and form opinions based on what they read. Broad sheets, tabloids and newsmagazines will have their own angles and views about same events. Our opinions are biased on the type of language, text, layout, images, what is emphasised, and what is left out, and how biased the article is. The Mirror (a tabloid), The Times (a broad sheet) and Newsweek a news magazine have all reported on the cable car accident which took place on the slopes of Mt Cermis on the 3rd February 1998. A low flying U.S. military aeroplane cut the cable wire, which caused the car to fall 300ft to the ground killing everyone in it. The three articles are reported in the distinctive styles of their genres.

There are many differences between broad sheets and tabloids. The most obvious difference is that the page size of a tabloid is A3, and that of a broad sheet is double this. Other differences are that tabloids use larger pictures and broad sheets more text.

All broad sheet newspapers include business and financial news that give an in depth analysis of what is happening in domestic and international economies. Often this is a pullout section. Financial and economic news is reported in tabloids, but it is more of a report of information rather than an analysis.

International news is also given more emphasis in broad sheets than tabloids. This is why broad sheets are considered a more ‘serious’ paper than tabloids, because tabloids concentrate on featuring celebrities, gossip, and human-interest stories. Whereas broad sheets are read for updates on political and current affairs, tabloids are notorious for their sexual content. Tabloids also have a reputation for being a ‘lads” paper; this is perhaps the reason why they have a bigger sports section.

The differences mentioned above clearly show that the broad sheet is a more difficult and thought provoking read. This is reflected in the intended reading age of each paper. The vocabulary used in The Guardian is aimed at people with a reading age of sixteen and above. The Daily Express uses vocabulary that can be easily understood by a younger readership. The Sun, which is a tabloid, has a reading age of seven. This clearly indicates that tabloids are supposed to be simple so that they can be read and understood by anyone without much effort.

The language in The Mirror is more casual. Easy to understand and also very dramatic. The Times uses more formal language and the Newsweek is generally in between the two. Each has its own styles this is best shown in the heading.

The heading of The Mirror and The Times come across as being similar. The Times states “20 die in cable car after jet cuts wire,” and The Mirror reports “20 skiers killed as jet slices cable car wire.” However each headline can have a different effect on the reader. The use of the word `killed` makes the accident seem more unjust and tragic than simply using “die.” The Times says the deaths occur “after” the jet “cuts” the cable wire where as in The Mirror headline we are told they occur “as” the jet “slices” the wire. The Mirror gives us the impression as if the accidental was more sudden and unanticipated therefore making it more horrific. The subheading of The Mirror is “Brits tell of horror in snow” which adds to the drama and instantly indicates that the article is based on the eyewitness accounts and is going to be fairly biased.

The Newsweek heading is “Blood on snow” which is very different from the main heading of the other two newspapers. Together with the subheading “After a U.S. fighter jet clips a gondola’s cable killing 20 Europe questions America’s character,”

the reader should immediately recognise the angle from which the article is written and the fact that it is biased.

The imagery conjured up by the heading is very powerful. The colour of snow is white which symbolises purity. When we picture the deep red bloodstains splattered on pure white, this represents the murder and the tragic, horrific deaths of the skiers. It makes the reader want justice for the skiers and their families.

The layout of the articles is different and we can visually see what the difference is. First is the text of each article. The Times use a map so the reader knows where the incident happened. A picture of the aeroplane is given with a short description on what it does. The Mirror on the other hand uses more of a dramatic approach as they use bold text but simple language to describe the incident. The images are more graphical showing the wreckage, people surrounding the area and emergency cars and people. There are no pictures in the Newsweek article but the date of the article is much later so the article is written as a discussion. The article is under the “World Affairs” column, which shows that this is a big discussion against the U.S.

(There are lots of contrasts between the three as The Times article adds background information. There is information on the aircraft that snapped the cable wire. “The Prowler is used to jam enemy signals electronically.”)

The Mirror and The Times each have four columns and Newsweek has three. As the font in the Newsweek is ‘bigger’ than the other two articles it is more reader- friendly

The Times has the smallest font because it is a broad sheet, hence it is a more intensive read and packed with greater detail. The Newsweek article has no visual images perhaps because it was written two weeks after the accident and the interested reader has already seen television news footage and newspaper photographs; now Newsweek are more interested in a discussion and the implications of the events rather than reporting the accident.

The photograph in The Time is a close up of the cable car wreckage and the crowd of rescue workers who can see the blood stained snow.

On the bottom of the page is a photograph of a fighter jet such as the one that caused the accident,

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and to the right of this is a map of the immediate area, which shows the path of the plane. On the top left hand corner of the map there is a map of Italy, which labels the site so that the reader can geographically place the accident.

The photograph in The Mirror is smaller than The Times and taken from further away as well as the wreckage it shows the cordoned area and the rescue cars… There is also a very small photograph at the top of the first column of a similar cable car as the one in the accident. This act as “before” and “after” photographs to show the extent of the damage – after the accident the cable car is unrecognisable. There is also a diagram, which visually explains how events unravelled and features the cable car, fighter jets, cable wire and map of Italy with a box indicating the geographical location captions serve as explanation of what happen. This diagram is a quick way for readers on the go to understand in a few moments what took place. If they are interested they can read the whole article. As before mentioned the intended reading age of a tabloid is quite low compare to broad sheets and a newsmagazine, so having a visual explanation which is easy to understand promotes a less intensive read.

The maps in The Mirror are very small and easily missed amidst the other diagrams. It is labelled “Italy” and the Adriatic Sea is shown these are the only areas named. The location of the accident is boxed in with no labels. The ‘simple minded’ tabloid reader probably is not very interested in the specific location, a general idea is all that is needed. The map in The Time it has a scale shows the terrain lakes, and surroundings cities it is core detailed or a more intelligent reader. Where as The Mirror depicts the cable car. The Times has a photograph the EA- 6B Prowler jet that is “part of Nato’s Bosnia force.” The impact of the photograph can make readers realise that such a jet can easily slice a cable wire and cause fatal destruction; that the potential for damage behind reckless and unsafe flying is horrific. This is why the size of the photographs is quite telling. Even though the size of the Prowler is bigger than the cable car, its photograph is smaller than the destruction it caused.

The language used in THE MIRROR article makes it the most biased out of the three. This is probably because it relies on eyewitness accounts to tell the story. As they were present and saw the death and destruction, they will be coming from a biased angle. The police chief said, “the four walls of the cart opened up like a card board box. The bodies were lying beneath the sheets of metal. Most of them were torn apart.” The police chief’s words are in the line with the tone of the article, which is horrifying death, tragedy, and the recklessness of the American Army. He gives us an image of a cardboard box the we can all picture and one that is repeated thrice, which demonstrates the force of impact when the cable car hit the ground. This makes one cringe at the thought of dieing such a gory death as the victims body parts “were torn apart.” Other words such as “jet slice”, “killed instantly”, “ripped apart”, “screamed”, “smashed”, “tangled wreckage”, “Blood stained snow”, “Hell let loose”, all add to the drama. The first half of the article contains the drama and shocking details of the tragic deaths. It makes the readers sympathise with the victims before addressing the explanation of why the accident happened. By this time the reader feels anger towards the plane crew and is already biased thinks brand the pilot as reckless and negligent.

This opinion that the reader forms, makes deeper roots when we read that “furious locals… complained before about low flying planes” and that the planes were also “deliberately flying UNDER” the cable wire. The fact that the word under is capitalised and in bold font demonstrates the illegal nature of the activity and seriousness of reckless behaviour without this emphasis the reader could miss the point. However as it is written, it is almost as if the article is telling the reader how to act. This point is repeated straight afterwards in the quote of the regional president Carlo Andreotti, who says “if pilots want to risk their own lives at risk that is up to them. But it is not acceptable that innocent tourists should take the consequences.”

The meaning that is conveyed in this quote and the quote of the hotel owner who also complains that plains fly “too low,” is that the American Airforce pilots are full of bravado, act with too much authority and have no respect for anyone else. They neglect their position as peacekeeping force for Bosnia and play “War games,” with people around them. In reference to this particular accident we are told that the air force chiefs express their “Deepest sympathy to their relatives and all those involved.”

This seems shallow and meaningless after the meaning that has been conveyed in the text.

The language used in THE TIMES makes the article more difficult to say that this is a biased article. As a broad sheet article it uses less obvious words to say that this is a biased article like THE MIRROR does. One of the ways on which THE TIMES makes it more difficult to show weather or not its biased is by its lake of using dramatic words in the article. They have given the American Air force a chance to hear them selves out. THE TIMES describes on what the Prowlers duty is.

“The Prowler is used to jam enemy signals electronically. I can also fire anti- radiation missiles to destroy ground radar installation.” THE TIMES have inserted this information because it tells the readers why it was put there for. This slightly makes the readers think that the aircraft was doing its job and it was an accident. The tone of THE TIMES article treats this event as an accident. With a tone that this was an accident, this makes the atmosphere created less dramatic to the readers. THE TIMES doses not rely on eyewitness account, which makes it much difficult to say that this is a biased article.

Through out the article there is a detailed description on what happened in the Alps with some background information on the Prowler and the area of where it had happened. Local residents have complained about American warplanes flying at low level but the planes still kept flying low. This makes the reader think that American airforce’s behaviour is reckless to others at doing a dangerous activity with no care about the complaints they revive but locals. The times MAKE the article less dramatic by not using words that were found in THE MIRROR article. “TWENTY skiers plunged 300ft to their deaths.” THE MIRROR article started off by a dramatic approach they used the word “plunged” which sounds more gory than the way THE TIMES put it. ” TWENY people fell three hundred feet to their death,” this is a less tragic account on the way that the victims died. THE TIMES used the word “fell” instead of “plunged”. The difference is known automatically by just saying it; the readers feelings change by the way the article is written.

The NEWSWEEK is first of all a discussion about the behaviour of the American Airforce. Immediately the article tells the reader that this is biased. First they put the article under ” WORLD AFFAIRS” which means the world needs to be aware of what has happened and mainly the fact that their heading is a big give away. “After a U.S. fighter jet clips a gondola’s cable, killing 20, Europe questions America’s character.” This heading first tells us that the Americans have done something very wrong and second, it tells us that there are questions raised about the character of America by Europe. The tone of this article is biased. The meaning of this article is straightforward and the tone of this article shows that the American Army is irresponsible. In the NEWSWEEK article, it shows the Americans behaviour as reckless by “hot dogging by threading under the cables and high tension wire.” There have been complaints to America by Italy; “a collective howl of protest.”

Newsweek’s article tell us that because of the low flying “warplanes,” there has been at least, “one miscarriage, made horses throw riders and prompted thousands of complaints to federal authorities.” This adds to the part of being a biased article because it has just added all the effects the warplanes have done by flying low. It makes the reader think that the American Airforce is reckless and the actions of the warplanes are terrible. The main text in the NEWSWEEK where it shows that this article is biased is when the article said; “violence is as American as cherry pie.”

This means that the violence is such an integrated part of American culture. It is common and loved like cherry pie, Americas well known dishes.

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