Shipman’s history - Sample Essay

Both the articles have, to some extent used pictures to aid the article’s representation of what happened. The way in which pictures have been used however, is quite different. Firstly, in The Telegraph there is only one picture, it simply shows two of the accused dog trainers as though they are walking into court. You get this impression because it is an unposed shot and has been taken from a wide angle, plus neither trainer is looking at the camera nor willing to and so the only reason this was used was because it is probably the only available photo of them.

On the other hand The Sun has used many pictures in many ways. The editor has decided to put four small photographs next to each other, each with different man who has been accused, not only this but they have put a banner across the side of each of them which reads; ‘ACCUSED’. This has certainly been used as an emotive step so that the reader feels harsh thoughts towards these people because the banner instantly portrays them as callous and bad, even though it still hasn’t gone through court, all four of the pictures are close up and unposed.

In fact in the close up pictures you can barely see anything else other than the faces of these men, this stirs emotion because their whole face is made very big in proportion to the story and the close up highlights all the parts of their face, which can be very hardening. As well as this, there are two other pictures, one simply of an Alsatian, with its tongue, this photo has been specifically selected to make you feel kindly towards the dogs and make the reader feel sorry for what happened to them.

Emotion is put upon the photo of the dog because the dog looks so defenceless and with it’s tongue sticking out makes you feel terrible about the fact it was killed. Next to this is a photo that probably stirs up the most emotion, it depicts PC Needham with his dog, this is his own dog and the one he was forced to kill. The photo was obviously taken before the dog-training course began and you can easily see that the policeman is very happy with the dog. This goes back to what I said earlier about it being his own dog that he had to kill and how upsetting that must have been for him and potentially his family if it was a family pet.

In conclusion I strongly believe that throughout The Sun’s depiction of the event the editor has selected a lot of different elements to give a very emotive and sensational appearance to what happened. You can clearly see the moment you look at the headline whose side the paper is on and it is obviously that of the handlers and the dogs, in the headline it describes the trainers as ‘cruel’. On the other hand The Telegraph has produced a much more informative view on what happened.

Although most of the information given is the same it is told in a different way and it is harder to see if this paper is on any particular side. Use of straight forwards facts and not mixing any emotion or opinion in with it aids this. Once again I have been studying a story in a newspaper. Like last time the article in question is in two different papers, one a tabloid – The Express, and one a broadsheet – The Independent, they were also both published on the same day and the same day as the ‘Police Dog’ article – October 13th 1998.

This time however, the story concerns Dr. Harold Shipman and both stories are reporting on the exhumation of a fifth body to study whether or not this GP killed her. Straight away an interesting point you notice about the difference of these two papers when compared to the other two is both the headlines are written in serif. This straight away says something about the way that The Express deals with news stories and The Sun, even though they are both tabloids. In fact the similarities between these articles (even though one is in a tabloid and one in a broadsheet) goes on.

The difference in size of the headlines is very little and neither of the headlines has been made anymore bold than they would be originally. This all points to The Express being a lot closer to being a broadsheet than other tabloids such as The Sun. However the distinctive features of a tabloid begin to come through as you start to actually read them. The headline of The Express is much more emotive, words such as ‘grim search’ and ‘widow’s body’ (in the sub-headline) point to this, These words are emotive because they stir feeling and make you really consider how bad the search for bodies of Harold Shipman is.

The headline as a whole; ‘The grim search goes on’ intrigues you into what they might be talking about, in fact the headline doesn’t give any clues at all away to what the actual story is about and is simply there to make you find out and then read on. On the other hand the headline in The Independent is much more of a statement, it is factual and doing nothing more than relying the information on to the reader ‘GP case: another body to be exhumed’. An interesting point to notice is that in The Independent they have used a colon in the headline.

This has been used for two reasons, to shorten the length of the headline and to make it more dramatic. Without a colon the headline would probably have to read something like ‘In the GP case another body will be exhumed’. This long headline takes away the shock factor and interest in the story. Once the headline has been read you move onto the sub-headline, in this instance The Independent doesn’t have one whereas The Express has decided to include one.

This may be because the headline in The Express doesn’t give that much information about what the story is specifically about whereas the sub-headline; ‘Police exhume widow’s body ‘ is specific to this article. The sub-headline is also very emotive, not due to the fact it talks about exhumation, which is pretty shocking anyway, but that when the body died it was a widow and although the body may have been dead a long time it still makes you think about elderly people dying and being murdered which definitely makes you want to read on.

Also I feel the words ‘elderly women’ make you think of defenceless ‘lovely’ women who rarely do anything wrong. Whereas ‘murderer’ makes you think of a vicious man who has done everything wrong – the opposite to the elderly women. After the headline you move on to the main body of the text, and firstly the hook paragraph. It is interesting that both the hook paragraphs are very similar; not only in the information they give you but also in the way they have been worded.

They both inform the reader that the police are going to exhume a fifth body that day in search of evidence against the GP Dr.Harold Shipman as well as this both editors have decided to make the first word of the article block capitals. The only noticeable difference between them is that in The Express the hook paragraph is in a slightly bigger font than the rest of the article, this is, like may other things done by the tabloids, done to get you to read and make you interested in the story so that you continue to read. After that you arrive at the actual article itself and although you have to study for differences a bit harder this time there are still things you can pick out.

As you read through them you begin to notice a difference in the way they have written about the, then suspected, victims of Dr. Shipman. The Independent gives the information you might expect, such as their names, date of death but also goes into detail about how they were meant to have died; ‘she died of coronary thrombosis, ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive airway disease’. This detail about cause of death has been used in The Independent perhaps to show respect for their readers.

A certain group of society read broadsheet rather that tabloids and include this complicated information could be a way of signalling this. However, The Express gives less detail and sometimes remarks on details that the reporter for The Independent may have though of as quite trivial, such as their place of birth and their occupation while alive. Other than that that the articles are very similar. They both describe the case in full and also how the GP forged a will, the other people involved in the case and Shipman’s history as a doctor.

The Independent’s article is slightly longer mainly due to the greater detail the writer has used as I have already discussed. The use of pictures is also a point to reference. The Independent has decided to not use any pictures at all whereas The Express has used two. One of these is a close up and a posed shot of Dr. Harold Shipman. This particular picture has once again been used to stir emotion. The picture of Harold Shipman is very close up; in fact the frame of the photo is just around his face and you see very little else.

This gives across the image that The Independent are trying to give, it almost sends a shiver down your spine when you see this photo and you are made to believe he is a murderer in the article, the technique used her is very similar to the one used in The Sun when talking about the ‘Police Dog’ article. Although at time of going to print he had not been convicted so it is possible he was still innocent, The Express doesn’t portray this though and the picture is just another way in which The Express has tried to put the nail in the coffin of Harold Shipman.

As well as this there is a wide shot of a grave that has been dug up, this is uncomfortable to look at for obvious reasons and especially in the British culture were anything to do with death is rejected in society much more than in other parts of the world. It is very interesting to notice the caption by the pictures, like the headline in The Independent it uses a colon to shorten it. ‘NEW DIG: The mound of earth… ‘ this has been done to tell the reader what the picture is of as a straight forward statement rather than a sentence, the they can read on to find more information about it.

Once again it is interesting that The Sun used this technique with a colon, this is one of the few similarities between the broadsheets and tabloids that I have been studying. In conclusion I feel that the difference between these two papers is much more subtle than that of The Telegraph and The Sun. This could well be because The Express is a much less of a tabloid than The Sun, The Sun is a member of a group of newspapers which include The Mirror and News of the World that are socialist and are targeted at certain groups of society, they nearly always take a view on something and portray their stories in this way.

They also often deal a lot in ‘gossip’ and stories that may not have much official backing, this sells them a lot of papers but can often get them into trouble. However, papers such as The Express and The Daily Mail are also tabloids but take a much less extremist view, they are a tabloid in the sense that they will tamper in the field of so called gossip but not to the extent of The Sun, The Mirror etc.

This is why it is much more difficult to spot differences between The Independent and The Express. Broadsheets on the other hand are often simply an informative paper, the reporters get information about a case and put in a story to convey it to the reader, they do not try to involve emotion and/or opinions in the way that tabloids might and their stories can be nearly always guaranteed to be totally fact or at least based on solid evidence.