The Sun takes a different angle - Sample Essay
“I SAW THEM SCREAMING” Obviously from a witness’s perspective, this headline, too, is very large (taking up around a third of the front cover). The size of the headline indicates the importance of this event. The reader will clearly know the story because every television channel and radio station mentioned it, so the journalist would not need to summarise the event into a headline, because we automatically know what the story is about. By writing the headline as “I Saw Them Screaming” we can almost sympathise with the witness, making the reader want to read on.
When we hear our friends talk about certain things that have happened we become very interested in what they have to say because of the way they tell it, by getting an eyewitness to tell the story, (i. e. not a journalist) they too will tell event in the same style, creating interest for the reader. The Daily Mail may have had an extremely effective, poignant story, but the headline, on its own, is not as successful. “OH MY GOD, NOT AGAIN” The headline does not really tell the reader what has happened and has not given us a flavour of the story.
But because of the dominant nature of the story, the headline doesn’t have to rely on prior knowledge. However, because there is a full size colour picture behind, the headline becomes ten times more effective. The image will spark memories of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and after reading “Oh my God, not again” we inevitably know what the story is about. From the three papers, I think that the most effective headline is the Daily Star’s. This is because the two short words are eye-catching, simple and yet extremely powerful.
The other headlines are effective, but not nearly as evocative. The headline and first paragraph might be what sells a newspaper, but the actual content of the story can be a lot more interesting. Does presenting the truth purely do this? We are very much influenced by newspapers, but how much of a story is fact and just how much is opinion? I will firstly describe The Sun’s use of fact and opinion. The Sun uses a variety of adjectives to put a more shocking perspective on the story, but pure factual sentences are regularly used.
The Sun uses the least amount of opinion out of the three newspapers, but still manages to put across the event in such a way that allows readers to see the scene of the incident in their mind. This is achieved by using quotes directly from witnesses. “I saw something drop off the plane and then it just spun to the ground. I thought, ‘Oh my God, those poor people’. This quote is obviously an opinion, but because a witness actually said this, The Sun can present it as a fact. When facts are presented to us we are obviously more likely to believe them than opinions, therefore by using more facts than opinions the story becomes more believable.
As described earlier, the Daily Mail uses a lot of emotive language and descriptive writing. The journalist take the events of November 12th and turn the news into a story, because of this, the article uses a vast amount of opinion. As the story progresses, use of opinion gradually increases: ‘It was another beautiful morning, another porcelain-blue sky… ‘ Obviously opinion is dominating this sentence. Loaded language is increasingly used, adding more and more opinion to the article. The effect of heavily using opinion (in this instance) is that the story will seem more emotional and moving.
The last newspaper’s front cover, the Daily Star’s, is generally neutral – extensive amounts of fact nor opinion is used: ‘FBI agents were last night frantically investigating… ‘ The word ‘frantically’ makes this sentence appear to be opinion, however, I could argue that agents were investigating last night, and it is likely that they were investigating frantically, however there is no way to prove whether something is done frantically, because it is an opinion. Because there are only four short paragraphs on the newspaper’s font cover, I cannot fully analyse how the amount of fact and opinion fluctuates.
The amount of fact and opinion used is closely linked to the angle at which the story is told. The angle is what the journalist focuses most on and what a lot of the story is compared to. The witnesses and background information will change depending on the angle of the story. Considering the headline (‘I saw them screaming’) and the small picture of the witness, we can automatically see that the angle of the story focuses on particular witness’s perspectives of the incident. After the main facts of the story were established in the beginning paragraphs, witness accounts of the event were mentioned.
‘One local said that there was now a huge hole where the four obliterated homes had been. ‘ The effect of using eyewitness’s versions of the event is that the reader can understand what severe consequences the event had on everyday people. The journalist deliberately wrote the words ‘one local’ in the quote used above; this makes us realise that it wasn’t just official air pilots, police and firemen that were effected by the event, but all American people, therefore we sympathise with the onlookers for having to witness such an event.
Both the Daily Star and the Daily Mail take the same angle. Because some of the events of September 11th were similar to those of November 12th, both papers continually refer back to the first American terrorist attacks and try to compare the two. ‘America was still struggling to come to terms with the September 11th hijack attacks… ” The Daily Star continues to introduce new facts about the September attacks throughout the story, as does the Daily Mail: ‘The similarities to the disaster of September 11 reduced thousands to tears and panic’
The effect of comparing the later events to those of September 11th is that the reader becomes aware of the seriousness of the incident. This is because the first terror attacks on America were so awful; one would dread it, if it ever happened again. Photographs can also reflect the angle of the story. It is not typical of a newspaper to use full size pictures, however because the story I am analysing was such a huge event, the whole of the Daily Mail’s front cover is one large picture. It shows a scene of a long street, however the majority of the scenery is obscured by flames and smoke.
Because this photograph does not directly reflect what the angle of the story is, the caption below it does: ‘In a scene hauntingly reminiscent of nine weeks ago, billowing clouds of black smoke… ‘ The caption again, refers back to the events of September 11th. So the photograph does not effectively show the angle of the story, however the caption that goes with the photograph does. However, in most instances, it is difficult to reflect your angle through your photograph, as like the Daily Star demonstrates.
The Daily Star covers the same angle as the Daily Mail. Again, the photograph does not show what angle the story is told from, but the caption does: ‘OH MY GOD, NOT AGAIN: The blazing jet lies in pieces after smashing into houses in New York, while firefighters battle to put out the flames. ‘ With the Daily Mail and Daily Star, the angle of the story is difficult to show through the picture alone, the only way the journalist would be able to show this is through the caption. Both captions effectively show the angle.
The Sun uses two photographs, one of a fireman examining the wreckage of the crashed jet and the other of a witness that tells his account of the event. The Sun successfully captures the reader’s eye with the large scene of the wreckage, yet manages to show the angle of the story through a smaller photo of the witness. To summarise the use of photographs on each front cover, The Sun is only paper that successfully shows the angle of the story through the photographs used, however both the Daily Star and the Daily Mails’ photographs’ captions show the angle of each of their stories.
Even after having discussed the journalistic style, sentence and paragraphs lengths, headlines, use of fact and opinion, angles and photographs, I have not asked myself why the story was included in the newspaper. Because each of the page leads are on the same story, this tells us just how important the event was – (therefore the circulation of each of the newspapers would be a lot higher than average. ) Because the events of September 11th dominated every television channel, radio station and newspaper front cover, anything event that appears remotely similar, will automatically make it into the newspaper.
The editor of a newspaper gives the readers what they want, what they talk about, and what may interest them. I certainly believe that the events of November 12th fall into this category. As I discovered, despite the fact each of the newspapers cover the same story, the articles are completely different. There are an infinite amount of ways to tell a story – each journalist will put a different angle on the story, interview different people, use different photographs and use different amounts of fact and opinion etc.
I thought the three different newspapers’ target audiences were meant to be very similar, because they are all national daily tabloids, (including similar material and stories) however I would not have been able to deduce that by reading the stories I have been analysing. The Daily Mails’ description of the event is more like a fictional story; where as the Daily Star’s description of the event is short, terse and brief. Does a person want a to sit down and thoroughly read a detailed account of the event or is the reader in a rush to detect the main details during a quick flick of the paper one coffee break?
Perhaps the Daily Mail was intended for people to read every detail on every page, and perhaps the Daily Star was intended for people to scan through, I’ve only analysed one particular story of the newspaper, I do not think I can automatically assume this. Concluding the analysis of three front pages of national daily tabloids newspapers, I do not think there are a vast amount of similarities to any newspaper story, obviously the main facts are going to compare to one another, but as this exercise has demonstrated, every aspect of an article differs to the next.