Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Immigration
Headline: Tell us the tooth
Authors: Jack Royston (National Newspaper Journalist), James Mills (News Reporter)
Aim of the article: To report on the concerns over the ages of child migrants entering the UK
Agenda of the article: The article is openly unconvinced of the age of the reported ‘children’ and includes a large picture with a caption offering the reader to examine the characteristics of the person – a slightly dubious call in terms of a moral argument, but made more confusing by the fact that we are just asked to believe that this is one of the immigrants and not offered any background information. The paper is demanding dental tests for the migrants to prove ages, supposedly supported by ‘MPs’, yet they only quote a single MP who has asked the same thing. The point of the article seems to be that the asylum seeking system is broken as it lets liars in and we should be afraid of these liars who would pretend to be children to enter our country. There is no consideration of the plight of asylum seekers or input from other viewpoints, but purely a story aimed to create concern in the readers who would believe the border controls are not working properly. Perhaps the logical conclusion following this is to close the borders to asylum seekers if they can’t be trusted? Certainly a point which is in keeping with the Sun’s rhetoric.
Bias of the article: The lack of quotes or points from an opposing viewpoint, and the use of opinion rather than fact makes this article hard to evaluate for facts. The paper regularly offers its own take on events to influence the reader and clearly has an agenda in the content of its report.
Topic of article: Brexit, Economy, Politics
Headline: May given dire warning over customs union
Authors: Anushka Asthana (Political Editor), Rowena Mason (Political Correspondent), Owen Bowcott (Legal Affairs Correspondent)
Aim of the article: To inform readers about the warnings given to the Government cabinet regarding the potential impact of Brexit on the economy.
Agenda of the article: The article begins by explaining the numbers behind the title and where they have been calculated from. The purpose of this is an attempt to carefully estimate the potential effect leaving the EU could have on the British economy through more thorough logic and use of known statistics. Too often the discussions around Brexit have been based on fanciful theories of how Britain will negotiate and use its ‘bargaining power’ or focusing on the wildly incorrect numbers that the original Leave campaign had quoted, and yet all the time ignoring the more concrete estimations which had already been completed. By laying out some of the issues a withdrawal from the EU free trade bloc would have, a very real possibility, the article hopes to present readers with a simplified understanding of how difficult and potentially damaging this current process could be for Britain.
Bias of the article: The article does little to present alternative opinions or statistics to support leaving the EU, which may have allowed a more balanced understanding of the debate. The studies quoted are referenced appropriately, making it possible to check them and the paper has searched out additional input from parties outside of the government to give some context to the figures quoted.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Economy, Politics
Headline: Pension blow for 5 million
Author(s): Ruth Lythe (Chief Reporter for Money Mail section), Daniel Martin (Chief Political Correspondent)
Aim of the article: To report on the recently announced changes to Pension plans in the UK
Agenda of the article: The article’s is written to make readers angry about the changes in pension plans in the UK. It begins with a sub-title which calls the plan a ‘U-turn’, which is a proxy for saying that the government lied and is now going the completely opposite way, before calling the annuities ‘rip-off’ to ensure that readers now they are in essence having money stolen from them by the government. Personal money, and especially pensions which are seen as being saved up due to working hard, have extremely emotional links for those that hold them and the hope is that by informing the readers of the wrongs being done against them the paper can mobilise some form of protest. What is interesting is that for a paper which has so often supported Brexit, it does a good job of attacking the current Conservative government and ignoring the fact that these changes in pension plans are almost entirely due to the fallout following the Brexit vote.
Bias of the article: There are no quotes from government ministers to explain their decision, nor does the paper afford any space for explaining the previous plan by Osborne for pensions, so that we are able to judge the extent of a “U-turn’. There are few statistics to back up any claims of ‘rip-off’ either.
Topic of article: Crime
Headline: Child couple found guilty of murders
Authors: John Simpson (Crime Correspondent)
Aim of the article: To report on the conviction of two teenagers for murdering a 49 year old woman and her 13 year old daughter
Agenda of the article: The news of this crime has become front page since the two teenagers became the youngest people to be convicted of murder in the UK. The details of the murder are gruesome and shocking, especially given the ages of the children involved. It seems that the moniker of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ has taken off when describing the two teenagers, as this draws a comparison with the romantic and evocative tale of the two American criminals. The article paints the murderers as ‘cold and calculated’ – describing how they committed the crime and then, seeming undisturbed, had a romantic evening together. This helps paint a damning picture and is almost certainly going to capture the imagination of the public, who despite being appalled by the actions will no doubt want to know more. The use of two large pictures of the victims also helps to create an emotional tie with the reader, as you feel much more personally affected by the crime when confronted with images of the deceased.
Bias of the article: The article reports the details given in court of the case, although it does not include any quotes from the police or from those involved in the case, except a short statement reportedly made by one of the murderers. The fact that this is a legal case report would perhaps impart some impartiality to the facts, although the tone of the article is overwhelmingly aimed as painting the murderers in a specific light to go with the Bonnie and Clyde narrative, whether this is justified or not.
Front page images from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs/the_papers
Reviewed by: Sam Hewitt