Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Sport
Headline: Ali at the end
Authors: James Beal (US Correspondent)
Aim of the article: The article is reporting the death of world-famous boxer Muhammed Ali using his last official photo.
Agenda of the article: The image that eclipses any text of the article is a close-up portrait of Ali which the paper describes as “weary” and “unrecognisable from his heyday” for which they supply a photo to illustrate. The main photograph is intended to be surprising; he looks joltingly different in contrast to the young, strong and deeply conscientious man the public remember and the paper reminds them of. They describe him as a “boxing legend” and “defiant” in the article which may be an allusion to his political and cultural significance as an icon as part of the civil rights movement, his conversion to Islam and his conscientious objection in the Vietnam War amongst many others but none of these are mentioned here.
Bias of the article: The article only contains a quote from “the Brit who snapped him” and doesn’t provide any sources for their information such as the length of time he spent with Parkinson’s disease and how that affected him. The article doesn’t raise Ali’s involvement in some of the significant – if sometimes contemporarily controversial – events in US history or nor any other critical analysis, though this is to be expected from this newspaper’s memorial pieces. There are no wider views on Ali or his significance and therefore this is assumed prior knowledge for the newspaper readers.
Topic of article: Politics
Headline: Unions warn of Brexit threat to working rights
Authors: Rowena Mason (Political Correspondent)
Aim of the article: The article is reporting a letter the paper has received from “10 union leaders” of the biggest trade unions in the country urging their members to vote to remain in the European Union in the referendum later this month.
Agenda of the article: The article reflects the letter that it is reporting which is ultimately that “we simply do not trust the (Conservative) government if they are presented with an unrestricted, unchecked opportunity to attack our current working rights” in the case of Brexit. It also discusses the alliance of Liberal Democrats, Green, Labour and David Cameron working together on the remain campaign trail today. There are two points of variance from this generally devoted article: once by highlighting Len McCluskey’s previous comments on potentially supporting the Leave campaign and, secondly, a quote from the letter outlining it is crucial that “Europe needs to change and “move away from a path of austerity.””
Bias of the article: Lengthy direct quotations from the letter dominate the article. The Guardian support the remain campaign by publishing this and, though they commonly try to provide a balanced view of affairs, the nature of the article lends itself to bolstering the stay vote. There is little provided by way of critical analysis of the content of the letter and the influence it could have not only on the “six million members” of the trade union signatories but on the voting population as a whole. There is no representation of the Leave campaign’s response to this and they are only mentioned when they are being criticised.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Health
Headline: Human organs grown in pigs
Author(s): Ben Spencer (Medical Correspondent)
Aim of the article: The article is updating readers on the early stages of medical research taking place that aims to combine human stem cells and pig DNA to allow transplantable human organs to be grown inside growing pigs.
Agenda of the article: The paper wants readers to think this is controversial and plays on this throughout the article, for example the use of emotive language such as “allowed to grow”, “dramatic bid” and “destroyed”. Moreover there is ambiguity about what is being grown in the pigs and whether it is a viable human or pig “embryo” which is then “destroyed”, which they seem to be implying, or growth of individual organs for harvesting. Following this, it is unclear on what aspect of the process that the “critics”, or the paper itself, feel is “offensive to human dignity.” Is it the idea of terminating an embryo, of a pig “embryo” with human organs growing in pig or organs being transplanted from a pig to a human?
Bias of the article: Once again the sources who provide the views published are unnamed “experts”, “critics” and “others” and there is no detail as to where the scientific information in the article came from. There is an attempt at balance with “supporters claim…” that this could aid those on organ transplant waiting lists but these thousands of patients are not the focus and overall the article is aiming to shock readers into thinking this is a step too far.
Topic of article: International Affairs
Headline: UK special forces take frontline role in Syria
Authors: Sara Elizabeth Williams in Amman (Jordan Correspondent), Michael Evans (Reporter)
Aim of the article: The article informs readers that, in addition to training and intelligence gathering, UK special forces are now directly involved in combat to support the New Syrian Army (NSA.)
Agenda of the article: Following up from the paper reporting last week that special forces “destroyed two Isis suicide vehicles” this article goes on to focus on another example of UK special forces’ involvement in the decisive village of al-Tanf. The article is supportive of this additional role of special forces and of the NSA’s “fight” and simplistically paints good as NSA and British special forces and bad as “Assad’s army” and Isis. The article also uses language to this end: Isis “seize” areas and introduce “armoured vehicles packed with explosives” and the NSA “take” those same areas back and defuse those vehicles. The article also works to criticise the Prime Minister when it highlights that this is all occurring despite him “failing to secure enough votes” for airstrikes in Syria in December 2015 as special forces “do not require parliamentary approval.”
Bias of the article: The article gives legitimacy to the New Syrian Army by giving their opponents the names “President Assad’s army” and “Isis” only, which could be confusing for readers. With the exception of highlighting the No Airstrikes vote, the article represents a positive view of this new role of special forces which is reflected in those who are cited: unnamed British “military commanders” seem to be provide the bulk of the information with a quote also provided from First Lieutenant Mahmoud al-Saleh. There is assumed prior knowledge of the situation in Syria, as the paper sees it, including the role of Isis and there is no representation of any alternative views for example of Syrian civilians.
Front page images from: http://en.kiosko.net/uk/
Reviewed by: Alice Edwards