Newspaper Analysis - Sample Essay
I am basing my analysis on The Sun and The Guardian both from Thursday 15th February 2001. Data The Sun: Total area of The Sun on Thursday 15th February 2001 – 61,776 cmi??. Category Area cmi?? Area % Celebrity 5925 9. 5 Politics 1359 2. 1 Health 545 0. 8 American News 69 0. 1 Banners/Contents 1503 2. 4 General/Human interest 5944 9. 6 Adverts 28630 46 Sport 9510 15. 3 Cartoons/Cross Words/Problem pages etc. 3108 5 World News 506 0. 8 Technology/Science News 295 0. 4 Home News 2001 3. 2 Crime 436 0. 7 Royalty 42 0. 06 Fasion 1351 2. 1 Money 788 1. 2
All measurements to the nearest cm. Pictures: No. of pictures C P S O Child, White, Female 2 2 Young, White, Female 17 10 7 Middle, White, Female 4 1 1 2 Old, White, Female 3 3 Child, Black, Female 1 1 Young, Black, Female 5 5 Middle, Black, Female Old, Black, Female Child, White, Male 2 1 1 Young, White, Male 35 5 23 7 Middle, White, Male 24 7 3 7 7 Old, White, Male 6 3 1 2 Child, Black, Male Young, Black, Male 1 1 Middle, Black, Male 1 1 Old, Black, Male C = Celebrity Child = -18 P = Politician Young = 18-30 S = Sports person Middle = 30-50 O = Ordinary Person Old = 50+.
The Guardian: total area of The Guardian on Thursday 15th February 2001 – 117,216cmi?? Category Area cmi?? Area % Celebrity 10110 8. 6 Politics 3888 3. 3 Health 4915 4. 1 American News 1339 1. 1 Banners/Contents 3140 2. 6 General/Human interest 8610 7. 3 Adverts 35045 29. 8 Sport 6. 7 6. 7 Cartoons/Cross Words/Problem pages etc. 1444 1. 2 World News 8406 7. 1 Technology/Science News 11014 9. 3 Home News 4317 3. 6 Crime 2048 1. 7 Royalty 336 0. 2 Fasion 495 0. 4 Money 11059 9. 4 All measurements to the nearest cm. No. of pictures C P S O Child, White, Female 1 1 Young, White, Female 16 5 1 9.
Middle, White, Female 6 3 1 2 Old, White, Female 4 4 Child, Black, Female 1 1 Young, Black, Female 2 2 Middle, Black, Female Old, Black, Female Child, White, Male 3 3 Young, White, Male 27 4 1 21 6 Middle, White, Male 15 3 2 8 Old, White, Male 6 5 2 Child, Black, Male Young, Black, Male 3 1 1 1 Middle, Black, Male Old, Black, Male 1 1 C = Celebrity Child = -18 P = Politician Young = 18-30 S = Sports person Middle = 30-50 O = Ordinary Person Old = 50+ Rationale for Categorisation The categories that were chosen seemed representative of the stories contained in the two newspapers on the day in question.
The choice of categories attempts to be wide ranging enough to contain all the news without having items which are do not appropriate to any, and without becoming cumbersome. There were several instances when the items were applicable to more than one category (eg. a health story could also be classified in technology) in this case, the most prominent factor in the story was used to determine classification. The categorising of photographs presented similar problems of ambiguity, especially as the only information available is the visual – age and occupation (if unknown) were estimated as closely as possible.
However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage as this is also the only information available to the reader. Therefore the impression that the photograph has on the reader is based on the same criteria as was used to classify it. When deciding ethnic background, there wasn’t a broad enough base to have more divisions, ‘black’ indicates any ethnic background which is not white – this could seem to be a very ethnocentric method of labelling, however, it was based on the content of the newspapers.
In both cases, the categorisation is based on personal judgement and is therefore subjective. A reader may have a different impression of a story or picture, which could affect their ‘reading’ of it. Ideally a representative panel should have carried out the categorisation, the groupings would then have been more accurate to the ideals of the readers, rather than just personal conjecture. Comparisons – area given to subject matter Rather than try to compare all the data including the very marginal categories, concentrating on the 6 largest seemed to be more viable.
This will enable a detailed analysis of the relevant issues without clouding the discussion with miniscule statistics (eg. 0. 06% about the royal family in The Sun). The categories to be investigated are: 1. adverts 2. money 3. celebrity 4. sport 5. general/human interest 6. technology news These categories were selected as they are the largest across the two newspapers (71. 1% of The Guardian and 82% in The Sun. ) As well as the comparisons between the two newspapers, the categories that are not included in this detailed investigation are significant.
It is clear from a cursory look at the above graph that The Sun has a higher proportion of ‘trivial’ stories (celebrity, general/human interest and sport) whilst The Guardian contains more ‘serious’ articles (technology/science, money). There is also much more space given over to advertisements in The Sun than in The Guardian. It is noticeable from the categories selected, that there are some glaring omissions. Politics, home and world news are all absent from the largest categories as is news about the Royal Family. Discussion.
It would be easy to attribute this difference in the amount of space given over to the different story matters to the tastes of the audience. That the readers of The Sun are generally working class males who aren’t interested/can’t understand complex matters, and are more engaged with sport and celebrity gossip. Or that The Guardian caters for generally middle class educated people who have a more active interest in money and more serious issues. This may be part of the explanation. Indeed The Sun’s readership is comprised of 30% C2’s and 40% DE’s whilst The Guardian caters to 57% AB’s and 29% C1’s1.
However, if this were to be taken at face value, then the educated ABC1’s of the Guardian would surely have a more active interest in the day-to-day events in their country and government than they seem to. After all the amount taken up by celebrity news in The Guardian is only slightly behind the proportion in The Sun (8. 5% compared to 9. 1%). It would be interesting to see of these celebrity stories, what aspects were covered in the two different publications rather than just the bare statistics of area. However, the decisions about what stories are covered in the two newspapers are taken for a reason.
The political persuasion of the newspapers will affect the stories chosen. The Sun would not give as much space to a story which was negative towards the Conservatives and The Guardian on the other hand would not give as much space to a very negative Labour story. This is not a distinction between broadsheet and tabloid print however, there are Labour-supporting tabloids (The Mirror) and Conservatively inclined broad sheets (The Telegraph). The various theories of media bias could explain some of the reasons why the less ‘important’ topics are actually given less coverage.
“It is their (the media’s) function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda. “2 Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda theory suggests that the masses must be diverted from wanting to know what is really going on, whilst the social elite who are more interested, articulate and educated have a desire to be stimulated and know what is going on in the world.
The tabloid press has 77. 5% of the daily readership whilst the broadsheets only enjoy 22. 5%3. Chomsky would suggest that the tabloid press who write for 77% of the adult readership – the masses, must divert attention away from what is really happening, they do this by concentrating on sport, celebrity and human interest stories rather than politics and home and world affairs. Not that the masses are not interested by what is going on in the world around them, but that they are not given the chance to be, they are deliberately kept in the dark.
On the other hand, the 20% social elite, would question the lack of serious news, therefore still keeping the ‘real’ issues hidden, the broadsheet gives a large amount of money news (after all this social elite is rich, and therefore will have a vested interest in such matters) and technology stories (which often have money and employment components to them). These categories stimulate the elite reader, whilst still not revealing the true nature of happenings.
Chomsky and Herman, would explain this as the rich and powerful newspaper owners manufacturing the consent of their readers to maintain the status quo, that is that they stay rich and powerful. After all they are not likely to bring information to the masses which will have a negative affect on their position. Further to this, neo-Marxist theory says that “The public sphere has become an arena for class domination in which elites disorganize their opposition through ideological indoctrination”4
In contrast to this rather sinister reasoning the pluralist approach says that there is inevitable bias in the media, but as a whole, all views are represented. Therefore if the reader wanted to get in depth political analysis, they could find it. This theory says that there is no plot to keep the masses down, but that the masses want to read about sport, celebrity’s etc. and therefore they consume media which re-enforces their beliefs. Comparisons – pictures Some of the most striking points of the choice of pictures is the complete lack of female sports figures in both publications and the lack of pictures of people from ethnic minorities.
One of the largest disparities between the two publications is the number of pictures of celebrities; The Guardian has 16 pictures (17% of the pictures in the publication) whilst The Sun has 35 (49% of the total number of pictures). The largest categories in both publications are young-middle aged white males. The Sun also obviously contains a semi-naked picture of a female, which The Guardian does not. Discussion Again the propaganda model proposed by Chomsky and Herman is supported with these findings, the pictures are representative of the dominant ideology and serve to reinforce it.
The Suns high proportion of celebrity pictures could be an indication of it’s opiate to the masses stance. The absence of female sports figures could also be indicative of the reinforcement of social norms. The sports figure is seen as generally being male, according to Liesbet von Zoonen “media act as socialization agents – along with the family – teaching children in particular their appropriate sex roles are symbolically rewarding them for appropriate behaviour”5. Furthermore the inclusion of the ‘page 3 girl’ portrays the woman as a sex object, a male orientated viewpoint.
Essentially, the ‘page 3 girl’ is pornography, and according to Dworkin (1980) “pornography exists because men despise women and men despise women because pornography exists”6. This paradoxical statement essentially states that the depiction of women re-enforces their submissive role within society. The same view could be assigned to the lack of pictures of people from ethnic minorities. The high proportion of representation of young/middle aged white males, therefore is a measure of the dominant ideology and supports their dominance within society.
The Sun only contains two pictures of males from ethnic minorities, one of these is celebrity, the other is the owner of a curry house (see appendix 2). This picture shows an Asian man in one of the traditional roles reserved for Asians in Britain. The picture shows the man, holding a curry and wearing his chefs hat, thus concreting the role which the dominant ideology deems to be ‘appropriate’. Conclusion To conclude, both newspapers seem to support the dominant ideology, with the tabloid using the diversion of sport and celebrity gossip, and the broadsheet using ‘intellectual’ topics such as money and technology.
The use of pictures also seems to support the dominant group. In this sense the two newspapers aren’t different. They both seem to be trying to achieve the same goal, but in different ways, tailored to their different audiences. However, the process isn’t necessarily as sinister as the propaganda model proposes. It has to be remembered that the majority of people working within the media are white middle class, middle-aged males. The dominance of this viewpoint is therefore bound to come through whether consciously or not. After all, a person can only look at things from their own viewpoint.
A middle aged, middle class white male cannot truly see things from the point of view of an unemployed young black woman, however hard he tries. Appendix 1 % of readers in social grade Newspaper Circulation (000’s) AB C1 C2 DE The Sun 3,935 8 22 30 40 The Guardian 402 57 29 5 8 National Readership survey January – December 1996. Appendix 2 1 National Readership Survey January – December 1996, see appendix 1 for full readership figures for the two publications.
2 Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman – Manufacturing Consent, 1988, http://www. thirdworldtraveler. com/Herman%20/Manufac_Consent_Prop_Model. html 3 National Newspaper ABC circulations, December 2000. 4 M Wheeler (1997) Politics And The Mass Media, page 20, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford. 5 L Zoonen (1991).
Mass Media and Society edited by J Curran and M Gurevitch, page 35, Routledge, New York. 6 L Zoonen (1991) Mass Media and Society edited by J Curran and M Gurevitch, page 37, Routledge, New York. Owen Brown 1 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Paper-based media studies section.