Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: Entertainment/popular culture
Headline: Wazza off the razza
Author(s): Simon Boyle (Showbiz editor); Richard Moriarty
Analysis: This article centres on the well-known football player Wayne Rooney, who is described as “troubled” following recent drink-driving charges and marital issues. The article is an exclusive report on the “ultimatum” that Wayne has given his wife, Coleen – that he will give up drinking if she goes on fewer holidays. An image of Wayne drinking a beer is juxtaposed with a large image of Coleen, wearing a bikini, which is intended to demonstrate the differences between their current lifestyles. The issues are phrased dramatically, with Wayne’s commitment to stop drinking framed as “a bid to save their marriage”. While a source is cited who corroborates the story to some degree, confirming that both Wayne and Coleen have issues with aspects of the other’s lifestyle, the extent of the problems are not supported, and the identity of the source is unknown. The description of the article as an “exclusive” gives it a level of intrigue, which can be seen as a tool to promote sales.
Topic of article: Politics
Headline: New leak of Brexit papers reveals fissures between Britain and EU
Author(s): Jennifer Rankin (European Correspondent)
Analysis: Further details of Brexit position papers are given, following leaks to the press, focusing on potential points of contention including the Irish border. Five position papers are expected to be published over the coming days, including one on the border between Ireland and the UK. According to the leaked documents, the responsibility for managing this border will be the sole responsibility of the UK. Key points of the leaked documents are detailed, all of which (the article suggests) indicate that the EU is taking an approach which focuses purely on the UK’s exit from the EU, an approach which is described as “spurning” lead negotiator David Davis’s idealised approach of flexibility and creativity. The phrasing of the first sentence gives the impression that the EU is somewhat at fault, and perhaps even taking an aggressive stance in the Brexit negotiations, for instance through describing their position papers as “combative”. The article takes a pessimistic view of Brexit, focusing on the complexity of the issues raised and the potential negative outcomes. The emphasis on the “technical minefields not covered during the referendum campaign” seems to be used to undermine the legitimacy of the referendum, by suggesting that (leave) voters may have been unaware of what their choice entailed. The Irish border issue is claimed to be the “biggest conundrum” of Brexit, and the article mentions the impact that Brexit may have on Ireland. For instance, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, is quoted as describing the impact of Brexit on Ireland as “extraordinarily negative”. Further, it is suggested that the proposed solutions to these issues are inadequate, being “denounced” as “completely confused” and “economically illiterate”, although the article does not identify the source of these quotations.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Health
Headline: Doctors: we won’t take on any more patients
Author(s): Sophie Borland (Health Correspondent)
Analysis: Following a BMA survey, this article reports that more than 50% of GPs want to close their lists to new patients. As a result of the survey, the BMA is to decide whether to tell GP surgeries to temporarily close their lists, in a “show of protest” against government demands for increased services, such as additional evening and weekend work, without increased funding. The article describes this as a “drastic measure”, noting the significance for those who are moving home or do not yet have a GP. Whilst closing GP lists to new patients would potentially have a significant impact, both on individuals and on other medical services (which presumably would see a greater demand if patients are unable to see a GP), the headline seems a little premature, as support for not taking on additional patients is only supported by a fairly minimal majority of those surveyed, and the BMA have not yet decided whether GPs should go ahead with refusing additional patients. Further, if this does happen, it should only be on a temporary basis as a form of protest rather than a long-term decision. No BMA representatives, government representatives or medical professionals are cited within the front page, all of whom could have provided insight on this issue.
Topic of article: Domestic affairs
Headline: Crackdown on university pay
Author(s): Rosemary Bennett (Social Affairs Correspondent), Nicola Woolcock (Education Correspondent)
Analysis: This article reports that universities are to be fined if they pay their vice-chancellors more than £150,000 p/a (“Theresa May’s salary”) without justification, which will be enforced by a new watchdog. The decision is to be announced at an upcoming Universities UK conference by Jo Johnson, the universities minister. The article suggests a “growing outcry” over the high wages of vice-chancellors, particularly amongst former and current ministers, coupled with public scrutiny over university spending following the continuing increases to student fees has led to this decision, although an alternative narrative is raised through quotations from a vice-chancellor, who suggests the decision is politically motivated. The article is fairly balanced, featuring quotes from Johnson’s speech, relevant statistics relating to current wages of vice-chancellors, and the voices of vice-chancellors who are defending their salaries, for instance by comparing their wages against those of footballers, as well as international institutions. The vice- chancellor of Oxford University was cited as accusing politicians of making an inappropriate link between vice-chancellor salaries and increasing fees, perhaps as a means of appearing to address the issue. She suggested instead that significant increases in running costs were the cause of increased fees. Her salary of £150,000 was noted, in comparison to the salary of the position-holder 15 years earlier, which was £100,000. The current running costs of Oxford University were given at £1.4bn which she claimed was “far higher” than it had been 15 years previously, although the real numbers and the percentage increases were missing from the report.
Reviewed by: Evelyn Jager