Newspapers covering - Sample Essay

Using the image of bodies jumping from a tower a starting point, compare and contrast the articles of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers covering the incidents on September 11th 2001 In the early afternoon (British Standard Time) on September 11th 2001, an unexpected terrorist attack shook the whole of the western world, and changed the Manhattan skyline forever. Organised attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon spread fear and shock throughout the U. S. A. Thousands of innocent, helpless, people perished in a tragic, public, event that became the biggest international story for at least the last three decades.

Two British newspapers, The Times and The Mirror provided extensive coverage of the event, and used the same image of people plummeting to their death as their selling point, yet their approaches to their written articles differed greatly. One of the few similarities between the articles of the tabloid and broadsheet newspapers was the picture that they both used as their centres of attention. They were large moving pictures used as the selling point. The pictures were of people jumping to their almost certain death on the rock hard floor beneath.

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They created pathos, by making the reader feel sorry for the victims, a couple jumping hand in hand from near the top of one of the towers. Both pictures took up the majority of the page and were aimed to catch the reader’s eye. The pictures made everyone realise how unbearable the conditions in the towers must have been for people to jump out of windows from the very top floors. They were both eye-catching, making the reader want to read the article to find out more about the events. However, the captions of the pictures used different language.

The tabloid newspaper’s language was emotive, due to the use of dramatic words such as, ‘… plunge to certain death… ‘ This was because people would have been drawn to the picture and read the caption before reading the article. Therefore the language used in the caption had to be emotive and sensationalistic to attract the attention of the reader. Where as the language used by The Times newspaper was more factual and less dramatic. The sentence, ‘People were seen leaping from the windows minutes before… ‘ shows this.

The headline of the tabloid newspaper, The Mirror, ‘WE ARE ALL F***ING DYING IN HERE’, was written in bold type and capital letters, in the centre of the page. The contrast in size between the headline and the rest of the article made the headline the centre of attention and eye-catching. The headline was also quoted from a terrified woman in an office, near the top of the tower, screaming down a phone for help. It was something that the readers of the tabloid could have related to, as the language was colloquial and is commonly used in times of stress and horror.

The language conveyed how frightened and terrified the victims in the tower must have been. The use of the swear word ‘F***ING’ clearly shows this. The broadsheet newspaper on the other hand had a more conservative approach. In its headline, ‘Bloody echoes of Pearl Harbour’, instead of using a large, bold headline with a swear word in it to grab attention, it used a smaller font in relation to the rest of the article. The words were chosen more carefully and it decided to use a historical reference in its headline, instead of a quote like The Mirror’s headline.

Its headline was referring back to one of the only other times that the U. S. A had been attacked by an external organisation and suffered such catastrophic losses on its own soil. The readership of the broadsheet paper was assumed to have had adequate knowledge of the event to make a sufficient comparison. The broadsheet headline was also followed by two subheadings in a slightly smaller font. The two subheadings suggest that The Times had better coverage than the tabloid as it seems to state the fact that thousands died and that President George Bush vowed ‘… to defend freedom… ‘ from the attackers.

The tabloid newspaper however, didn’t state anything, showing that it didn’t have as good coverage of the event as the broadsheet. Another difference among the layouts was that The Mirror article was broken up into many one sentence long paragraphs compared to the narrower, longer and more complex paragraphs of The Times. This was because the one-sentence paragraphs would have been easier to understand for the tabloid readers, as they are generally understood to be less educated and intelligent than the tabloid readers. Where as the tabloid readers tend to be more knowledgeable and intelligent.

Therefore they can read the complex, narrower paragraphs easier. Broadsheet readers usually read articles the whole way through, therefore broadsheet articles are set out more like stories, where as tabloid readers do not generally read articles the whole way through, largely because tabloids use highly repetitive pyramid writing. There was also a contrast between the languages that the two newspapers used in the articles. The words used by the tabloid newspaper were shorter, common and less complex, compared to those that the broadsheet paper used.

This is because the readers of the tabloids are generally assumed to be less educated and not as intelligent as the readers of broadsheet newspapers. The Times used much more complicated words, such as, ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘disintegrated’. The Mirror also used a lot of hyperbolic and emotive language. For example, ‘… unimaginable horror… ‘ and ‘… fireball explosions ripped through the symbol of America… ‘ This was generally used at the beginning of the piece, to keep the person reading interested in the article and to make them read more and more.

The use of this technique made the article almost like a narrative and got the reader involved, as though they were in it. However the broadsheet paper didn’t use the emotive and sensationalistic language as much, as broadsheet writing is generally more factual and informative, trying to give an accurate an account as possible of the event being covered. ‘In Pennsylvania, a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, in San Francisco, crashed about 80 miles south-east of Pittsburgh… ‘ is a good example of this. The broadsheet newspaper used technical jargon in its article, unlike the tabloid.

This is because The Times readers are generally more intelligent and brighter than tabloid readers and would therefore understand what the words meant. An example of this is ‘… the TUC conference… ‘ this is the Trade Unions Congress Conference, where Tony Blair cancelled his speech after being informed of the attack. This technique was included in The Times as its readership is generally better educated than the The Mirror readership. Therefore they would have understood what ‘… TUC… ‘ meant. While the World Trade Centre strike was the most prominent of the attacks and covered in the news the most, there were two other attempts.

One of the hijacked planes crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and another ripped through one of the sides of the Pentagon. Even though, the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence was hit, it was still overshadowed by the incident In New York. This was primarily because there were so many lives lost and it was the most tragic occurrence. The Times newspaper did report what happened near Pittsburgh and at the Pentagon, as it often has a wider point of view than the tabloids. It also managed to quote and give details about what the world’s leading political figures thought of the event.

Quotes from Tony Blair, George Bush and even the Queen were incorporated in the article. Although in contrast, The Mirror didn’t include anything about the other two attacks or any speeches from leading figures. Instead, it interviewed survivors and witnesses of the disaster in New York City, such as janitors, security consultants and firemen. This shows that there is a great difference between the news coverage tabloids and broadsheets. The fact that the broadsheet newspaper was quick to announce that experts were suggesting Osama Bin Laden was the perpetrator shows its superior news coverage over the tabloid newspaper.

Tabloids do give a first hand accounts on the other hand. They interview people on the scene of the incident, and people who witnessed the event, therefore getting graphic details and accounts of what happened, providing an intimate report for their readership. For example a janitor said, ‘It was horrendous. I can’t describe it. ‘ The Times and other broadsheet newspapers generally interview experts and leading figures to get a view on their feelings and how they will retaliate. George Bush and Tony Blair are the type of people that broadsheets interview.

On the whole though, I think that the tabloid article was very forthright and didactic, as it forced its views and opinions upon you, using hyperbolic and emotive language and graphic eyewitness accounts of the Twin Tower attack. The including of eyewitness accounts, pictures and sensationalistic language, such as, ‘… scenes of unimaginable horror… ‘made article shocking and sad to read, but this was also partly due to the scale of the events and that it was the largest story for at least three decades. Although, there was no mention for the reasons behind the attack and there was less detail about the incidents than, The Times.

It wasn’t as productive as the broadsheet article, as almost the whole article was of eyewitness accounts. The article in The Times newspaper on the other hand was very informative unlike the tabloid article, as it was very factual and tried to give a detailed, accurate account of what happened on that fateful day, and so allowing the readership to make up their own mind about the incidents. It tried to give a balanced view, but as in both articles, the reader cannot help having sympathy for those who perished and those who lost loved ones in those tragic circumstances, after reading the articles.

However, The Mirror is less informative and much more biased than The Times because of the words and phrases it uses. For example, ‘Someone needs to take responsibility for this, that was somebody’s father… mother… sister… ‘ Although the articles contrasted in so many ways, I believe that the articles were still trying to put the same message across tot their readership. This was that, although America is a superpower it is still vulnerable to attack, and the world was shown this. Security needs to be stepped up to stop terrorism and everyone needs to take threats very seriously.

After analysing both articles, I didn’t really prefer any. I thought that The Mirror article was more shocking due to the use of sensationalistic and emotive language and provided a detailed eyewitness account of the scenes in New York, but I thought that The Times was very informative and gave a detailed balanced opinion of what happened, without altering the reader’s views. It was also interesting to find out what the leading political figures thought of the attacks and what how everyone would retaliate.



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