Papers Reviewed: The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Politics
Headline: We want May in TV debates, say voters
Author(s): The Independent (newspaper)
Analysis: Report on a poll that claimed the public were in favour of seeing Theresa May participate in television debates before the General Election in June. The Independent leads with a quoted demand as if it is coming directly from the public voice, an effective tactic when reporting the results of a poll. The stance of the paper is that May must be afraid of something for her to avoid the debates and that by avoiding the debates she will be going against the will of the people. The paper does not mention which poll they are quoting on the front page, whether this was done by the paper or an independent group. The picture posted on the front is an unflattering photo of a squinting May, giving her a slightly confused look which may serve to make is easier to distrust and point the finger at her as avoidant of discussing the real issues. At least that is what it seems the paper would like the readers to do, and as the Independent is a strong supporter of Labour this may not be too hard for their readers. The front-page ends by giving the last word to Labour, allowing them to publicise their standpoint on May’s avoidance and giving readers a useful way to think of May’s stance on the debates – if she doesn’t want to take part then she must be ‘running scared’.
Topic of article: Education, Politics
Headline: MP’s condemn ‘wasteful’ free school policy
Author(s): Sally Weale (Education Correspondent)
Analysis: Inform readers about a recent report that detailed the failings in funding and maintaining both free and state schools in the UK, as well as discuss the implications this has for the government’s educations plans. The Guardian, long a supporter of Labour, features a damning report and analysis on one of the Conservative party’s major policies over the past few months, namely the delivery of education, with this focusing specifically on the practise of building more free schools across the country. As the general election run-up finishes it’s first week, the papers have begun to examine specific policies put forward by the major parties and it seems like education could be a major battle-ground in the election. In regards to this the Guardian gives a full expose to the report published by a cross-party committee that slams the Conservative’s history on education. The mention in the first paragraph of ‘cross-party’ is important to inform readers that this is not just a labour backed smear of their opponents but rather a researched and considered consensus opinion. The article focuses mainly on the different criticisms by the report on the funding of free schools, hoping to show the public that the Tories, despite their claims of being fiscally responsible and good leaders are actually spending far too much money on a system that does not work while neglecting massive areas of education that could be funded with what they waste. The article is well written and attempts to analyse the stories behind numbers quoted, with quotes from the committee that wrote the report. However, it could have contained a comment or quotes from the Conservatives to balance the viewpoints out.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Crime
Headline: Maddie police chasing ‘critical lead’
Author(s): Chris Greenwood (Crime Correspondent), Vanessa Allen (Reporter)
Analysis: Inform readers about the latest advancement of the Madeleine McCann case and the most recent lead being followed by the Police. The McCann kidnapping case is a tragic and drawn-out nightmare for the family, but it is also a favourite story for the tabloid media. Knowing that most readers would feel some form of personal connection or fear regarding the story of a young, cute girl stolen from under her parents’ noses during a holiday, whenever a new lead of accusation comes out in the case it is splashed all over the front-pages. In this case, as the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping approaches the Mail feels it needs to inform everyone about a vague lead that the police are now following up but will not comment on any further. A large picture of the infant Madeleine alongside the main story helps to form a sympathetic bond between the reader and this poor, innocent girl who has been missing for so long. It can also be argued that this case has been seized upon by the media as the perfect example of devious foreigners and difficult to handle European countries, as reporting has repeatedly focused in the ‘burglars’ at the Portuguese sea-side resort and the poor cooperation or failings of the local police department. What better time to remind readers about the dangers of the continent then on the eve of an election which based on the on-going negotiations to, in some form, keep these dangerous foreigners out of the country.
Topic of article: Economy
Headline: Borrowing falls to lowest level since Brown years
Author(s): Philip Aldrick (Economics Editor)
Analysis: Report on figures released by the Office of National Statistics that show Britain’s borrowing has fallen to levels closer to those seen pre-financial crash of 2008. The Times goes with a headline that serves to bolster the Conservative’s claims about their command of the economy, and in this instance it seems the paper is banking on most people’s impression of the following report being influenced by the positive spin introduced in the headline. The bold headline and subheading present an image of an economy and government who have performed miracles by wiping out a huge amount of debt in such a short time, debt often ascribed to the Labour party. What is interesting is that the paper includes a reference to the ‘Brown years’, perhaps giving some credit to the previous Labour leader but this seems overshadowed by the insinuation in the subheading that the government has rapidly reduced the debt. But when a reader continues into the main body of the article they quickly find out that these levels referred to were found on the eve of the financial crash in 2008, hardly a ringing endorsement of confidence, and that they are only at these levels because they do not take into account a bill which will be paid in the next financial year. The article uses numeric values to help people get their head around the values, but there is little analysis of the underlying trends and true meaning of the numbers, only a short warning statement from an economist that can be easily avoided. The overriding impression given by the article is that the current government have done a good job reducing the borrowing deficit, when an analysis of some small facts hidden among the words could indicate something completely different.
Front page images from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs/the_papers
Reviewed by: Sam Hewitt