I am going to concentrate on the similarities and contrasts within the media of newspapers. Newspapers over the years have divided into two types, tabloids and broadsheets. With this change, the content and purpose of each paper has evolved. A newspaper is a form of propaganda. It is made up of news articles of current events and issues and covers all of the above purposes of media. People generally believe that newspapers are there to inform of facts about issues around the world, however newspapers are increasingly becoming a way of manipulating the minds of our countries population.
I have chosen one article from two recent newspapers, both on the same topic. The issue of Prince Harry’s drink and drugs scandal. The two papers are ‘The Observer’ and ‘The Mail on Sunday’ and both issues are dated Sunday 13th January 2002. I want to concentrate on the ways in which the articles are presented at surface level by visual appeal and other such devices and also the ways that each paper has approached this human-interest story of a royal acting irresponsibly.
‘The Mail on Sunday’ is a tabloid paper. For the purpose of this essay I am going to entitle it article 1.
Tabloid papers have general characteristics dissimilar to those of broadsheets. Both papers are produced for different audiences, this means that they be presented in different ways to appeal to their different audiences. ‘The Observer’ is aimed at the middle class, well educated and business people. ‘The Mail on Sunday’ is aimed at a younger audience and people less dependent or interested in hard news.
This is the main factor that results in the contrasts of the two papers. Article 1 in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ is the cover story of the paper. The article itself runs through pages 1,2 and 3.
Here, page 1 is the most vital, capturing the reader’s interest. The article takes up half of the page, the other half being given over to an advert for a horoscope insert magazine that comes free with the paper and also a Thomas Cook giveaway deal. These are both things that are likely to interest a less educated and less well-off audience, as they will desire ‘freebies’ more than the rest of the population. The article itself is made up almost half and half by headline and photograph. This technique again gives off a certain image and attracts a certain reader.
A theme is created hinting that the paper is good for those who don’t want to take time over reading facts, just want to be given an image outline of the story. On pages 2 and 3 this image is carried on through but to a lesser extent. Approximately one sixth of the pages are taken over by the title. On top of that another third of the two pages is given over to photographs and captions and another quarter by articles of no relevance to the topic such as the weather and how The Mail On Sunday should have been voted the newspaper of the year.
The rest of the two pages consists of approximately three full columns of text however these columns have been split up and strung across the pages filling space in-between the photographs. Out of the entire customer attracting methods, one thing that stands out initially to the buyer is the headline ‘Police Probe Harry And Pub Lock-In’. Alliteration is used for the letter P. This gives emphasis to those words that begin with that letter such as Police and Pub. These are two images that the editor is trying to associate with the 17-year-old prince and the scandal of the topic and the illegal pub lock-in.
The front of the title is traditional, easy to read, large and bold. Upper case letters are used throughout to give an even and readable look to the title. The second thing that attracts the reader is the photograph to the right of the headline. In the picture Prince Harry is holding a tankard, which by the images behind the Prince and the clothes he is wearing has clearly been one at a polo competition or something similar. This image has been cleverly used and placed to cause the reader to associate the tankard with drinking.
The caption underneath simply states that the Prince had been drinking at a pub, it doesn’t explain that the picture is nothing to do with this but simply leaves it to the reader’s assumption. The text is the last thing to catch the eye of the reader. The first eight lines are used to explain in brief the content and scandal of the article. The last four lines begin the main article. There is only a short section of the article on the front page, possibly to leave more space for the headline and the picture to attract the customer but also enough text to entice the reader to read on to the next page and trigger their interest.
Over the page the headline again attracts the reader, Trouble at the Rattlebone Inn. This time lower case letters are used and an association is made with the keyword in the title ‘Trouble’ and the image that our eyes are drawn to next of a full length colour image of the Prince on page 3. The photograph shows a smartly dressed adult looking Prince and quickly detracts from the innocent and young image people may have of him. Directly to the left of this picture is another of an alleged lover, Natalie Pinkham. The Prince can be seen as almost looking in her direction from the positioning of the pictures.
The picture of the older woman again portrays an image of Harry being older and less innocent. On page 2 there are two black and white photographs that are not as appealing as those on page 3 but are more informative of the situation, showing the pub and actual evidence of Harry drinking. Indeed a good picture of the story can be obtained from simply the headlines, photographs and captions. It is not necessary to read the text for those readers who do not want to. In deep contrast to this is article 2 from ‘The Observer’. Here the front page is twice as big and the Prince Harry piece is not the only headline news.
The article makes up approximately a quarter of the front page but is made the most eye catching by the large colour portrait image of the Prince that takes up half of the allotted article space. The headline for the article is considerably less bold than that of article 1, it takes up only an eighth of the allotted space. The actual text makes up approximately 3/8 of the space; there is approximately 7 times more of it on article 1. The article is carried onto another page, page 5 but still only makes up half of this page.