Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Crime, Celebrity
Headline: Beaten, broken, betrayed
Author(s): Simon Boyle (Associate Showbiz Editor), James Beal (US Editor)
Analysis: Report on Mel B and her husband’s domestic problems and accusations made by her regarding abuse she received from him. The Sun loves a good celebrity gossip story and while these are surely sad circumstances, with Mel B allegedly beaten and abused for many years during her marriage, the paper manages to turn it all into money. They harness the public’s interest in the lives of celebrities, as well as the morbid love of violence and crime, and place it front-page. The picture of Mel B showing her bruised and swollen jaw is juxtaposed with a snarling picture of her ex-husband, giving the impression of an angry and evil man. The paper also bullet points the nastier aspects of the accusations made by Mel B, so that prospective readers will be immediately drawn to pick the paper up. While domestic abuse is a serious subject, the Sun is quite happy to objectify women on page 3 and make money off of their pain.
Topic of article: Environment, Health
Headline: Revealed: the illegally toxic air at schools
Author(s): Sandra Laville (Senior Reporter), Matthew Taylor (News Reporter), Helena Bengtsson (Editor for Data Projects)
Analysis: Report on an analysis of air pollution levels at schools around the UK and the consequences of the findings for children’s health. The article narrowly outweighs the neighbouring picture and article on the deadly chemical attack in Syria, saying something about the importance that the paper has attributed to this story. The report is based on exclusive work done by Greenpeace and the Guardian, and the desire to demonstrate their ability to create news is something that the papers hold very dear. By splashing it out on the front page they are hoping to show the reader that in order to get cutting edge reporting they will have to come to the Guardian. The subject of the analysis being children and schools addresses a very important concern of families and indeed most everyone – the safety of children. The report could have mentioned the high levels of air pollution in England, as demonstrated recently by the warnings in London, but this would not evoke such a strong protective emotion compared to when we hear that the places where children are meant to learn and socialise and be safe are suffering from similar air pollution. The article mentions that these high levels of pollutants have been shown to impact lung development and so this article could be seen as a way of ensuring that public attention is raised to the point that there can be a push for something to be done about the situation. Additionally the writers are very critical of the governmental policies that have led to the air pollution levels, quoting a withering analysis of the near criminal failure of the current attempts to address the problem. As a long-standing critic of the Conservative government the Guardian obviously want to point out that these worrying levels of pollution would not be found if there had been more stringent restrictions in place. There are quotes from the government and numerous other MPs addressing the issues, on both sides of the argument.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Economics
Headline: PM: I’ll protect diesel drivers
Author(s): Jason Salmon (Reporter), Jason Groves (Political Editor)
Analysis: Report on Theresa May’s comments regarding impending tax rises for high-emission cars and the people this will affect. The Mail portrays Theresa May as the protector of the average English person, a common trope with the paper who was recently accused of objectifying women by commenting on the legs of Mrs. May and Sturgeon. A staunch supporter of the PM and an important ally in presenting a good front to the public, the Mail can be relied on to spin the story their way. The article lays blame at the feet of everyone but the conservative government for the debacle surrounding false assumptions on the safety of diesel cars. Tony Blair’s chief scientist (whatever that means) is wheeled out after admitting some part in the scandal, but the specific details are brushed over, before targeting the ‘climate-change obsessed ministers’ and the new mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Watch out all who displease the Mail, you may find your name linked to a major scandal! While the paper is blaming everyone remotely linked to the left, they are also carefully constructing a powerful mentality of ‘us and them’ for their readers. It’s us, the protectors of the average citizen who represent your wishes, against the lying scientists, the scheming MPs and thieving lefties who want to take everything from you. It alienates people and makes them fearful, allowing easier control and the Mail is a master of this, while hiding it behind the face of ‘real’ news. There is little balance in this article, with all quotes from opposing viewpoints framed as ‘stunning admissions’.
Topic of article: International News, War Crimes
Headline: Outrage against Assad after nerve gas attack
Author(s): Catherine Philip (Diplomatic Correspondent), Bel Trew (Egypt Reporter), Hannah Lucinda Smith (Freelance Journalist)
Analysis: Inform readers of the recent nerve-gas attack and bombings that killed up to 100 people in Syria. The main page features a large picture of a child receiving medical care, presumably following these attacks. At any point, seeing a young child suffering will evoke strong emotions of pity and sympathy for the child, and anger towards those that inflicted the pain. And in this picture the child is staring straight at the camera, looking directly at the reader and almost imploring them to help. This is one of the first examples of reporting and open condemnation of the brutal attacks carried out by the Assad regime in Syria, and it feels like the media here has just woken up to the terrors of the Syrian people. There were banal descriptions of citizens in rebel controlled areas being moved away from fighting in Aleppo, and when they discovered evidence of mass genocide and death camps these were reported in smaller stories. Now the article adopts an angry and wrathful tone, mentioning the emergency meeting of the UN and the widespread uproar from major leaders in the West. There is constant reference to deadly attacks in 2013, which were 10x worse than this one, and yet I struggle to remember any papers reporting on this incident. Overall, the article is attempting to inform readers about the cruelty of the Syrian regime and possible implore leaders for a substantial response to the attacks. The only question remains – what will this response be? Armed invasion of the country will surely be taken off the table following the events in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it was only a week or two that US bombs killed hundreds of innocent victims, so what other options are left?
Front page images from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs/the_papers
Reviewed by: Sam Hewitt