Media Studies Essay Essay, Research Paper
The Sunday Times is a highly regarded newspaper, tending to be very conservative and highly informative. It is aimed at those who are interested in all the details about current affairs. The Sunday Express is a tabloid newspaper. These are papers that appeal to people who may just want to scan the news quickly, in order to have a good idea about events happening around the world, without giving up great amounts of time to read lengthy articles. They are contrasting in the way they deal with presenting the news to their readers. Evidence of this can be found through comparing how the two newspapers documented the inferno in a cable train in a tunnel in the Austrian alps, on Saturday 11 November 2000. 170 people were burned alive due to finding themselves trapped as the train caught fire. Only 18 people survived, and it is said to be the worst accident in alpine history. It was reported by David Dillon for the Sunday Express and by Peter Conradi and Michael Woodhead for The Sunday Times. At a first glance, the layout of the article in The Express is much more effective than the article in The Times at attracting the readers attention. There is a bold, dramatic headline, typed in enormous, capital letters. It is punchy, and straight to the point, simply reading, “INFERNO”. In The Times, the letters are much smaller, and not in capitals. The headline is longer, therefore the powerful message is not as instant, “Tunnel inferno kills 170 skiers in Alps”. However, this headline is straight to the point and creates a great shock within people due to stating that 170 people were killed. Readers become emotionally involved and extremely interested when they realise people have lost their lives. In The Express is not instantly clear that people have died. The use of the word “kill” is powerful and hard hitting. If the word “die” had been used instead, the effect on people would not be as dramatic. This article in The Express is the only article on the page, with the exception of two advertisements. This ensures the reader is not distracted by another story. In The Times, there are several other articles and advertisements to take the reader´s attention away from the main headline. The Express uses a bold, thick border around the article, making it stand out further. In The Times, there is a border, yet it is less effective as it is very thin and not very bold. There is just one column of text in the Express article. The article is dominated by a large photograph of one of the survivors, bloodied, looking sad and shaken. It provokes the interest of the reader, making them want to read about the story. The same scene is used in The Times. It is portrait, showing most of the woman and the two rescuers. In The Express, the photograph is landscape, showing the woman and the two rescuers from the waist upwards. I feel the photograph in The Express is more effective at a glance, because it causes you to focus on the woman´s face and her expressions, as well as the shocked expressions on the rescuers and people around the woman. It is not necessary to see the people from the waist down. It does not convey any extra emotion or information, other than the flecks of blood on the woman´s ski suit showing that the injuries were horrific. The Times uses two photographs, where as The Express only uses one. The second photograph was of the tunnel in the Alps. It helps readers to visualise the scene of the accident, yet because the tunnel is not photographed on fire, it does not have a dramatic effect on readers. It breaks the three column long article down, making it look less wordy and more interesting.
The Times newspaper concentrates more on delivering accurate information, than presenting it in a way that will instantly attract the attention of readers. However, its headline and pictures do provoke interest, and cause readers to become emotionally involved. The Express is obviously very keen to draw in the reader´s interest instantly, making them want to read on. Factual information is sparse on front page articles. A large amount of small print can put off many readers, therefore a great amount of the details are saved for later pages. In The Express, there is punchy sub heading to give readers more information about the accident and make readers want to find out more. There is no sub heading in The Times.
The language used in The Express article´s sub heading is meant to grip readers and make them feel deep shock, and want to read on. It makes the severity of the situation clear instantly, “170 feared dead as blaze sweeps packed ski train in Austrian alps”. By saying “blaze sweeps packed”, it makes it clear to readers that the train was full of people. One can visualise the fire rapidly spreading through the train. The images one gets from those few words are very dramatic. The opening paragraphs from each article are very different. David Dillon of The Express immediately engages the reader, making them feel empathy. His opening statement is as follows: “POLICE face the harrowing task today of identifying 170 young skiers burned alive in a blazing Austrian cable train”. He is emphasizing the tragedy of the accident, by using words like “harrowing”. He then states, “Many victims are believed to be British”. This makes readers feel extra concern, as the fact that people from their country have died makes the tragedy feel closer to home, and bring on thoughts such as “that could have happened to me”. It is a hard-hitting end to the paragraph, letting that fact sink in. Dillon is really trying to make people feel the pain of the victims by expressing every fact dramatically; “burned alive”. Peter Conradi and Michael Woodhead of The Times begin with a long sentence stating the number of people who died and details of how it happened, “AS MANY as 170 people-some feared to be Britons-were killed…”. They seemed keen to place emphasis on the number of people who died, by saying “AS MANY as”. It is interesting that they should choose to use the word “Britons”, as oppose to “British”. This is evidence that the language used in The Times is more formal than that used in The Express. There are many detailed facts, perhaps of little interest to the majority of people, – even in the opening paragraph, “a funicular railway packed with weekend skiers caught fire”. As with The Express article, the opening paragraph ends with a hard hitting, emotive statement, “Many of the dead were children and teenagers”. This causes one to feel increasing sympathy and sadness for those involved, due to the fact young people had lost their lives. In The Express, Dillon claims that all of the skiers were young. By not giving this fact a sentence of it´s own, the fact that young people died, does not sink in as well, “Identifying 170 young skiers”. Dillon could have exaggerated this fact, as it does not correspond to the information given by The Times. Throughout the article in The Express, the emphasis is on people; what the victims endured, “engulfing tourists in temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Centigrade”. The tragedy is always conveyed in a negative way ,“only 18 people escaped”. The language is graphic and descriptive; “engulfing”, “to reach the burning compartments”. They want people to understand that there was no way anything else could have been done to save people, “Rescuers battled in vain”. This illustrates just how awful the accident was.
They included statements from survivors to enhance this fact, “there was no chance of life for those trapped inside”. Dillon did not include any quotes from survivors telling of their ordeal, on the front page. He used quotations from a Salzburg governor to emphasise the severity of the fire, “spread at raging speed – like a fireplace”. There is not very much information on the front cover. What information is included is not very detailed. The style of writing is very basic and easy to understand, for example; ‘people who managed to scramble free´. The vocabulary is accessible to most people. The rest of the article is continued on page four. This seems long way from the main article. David Dillon is still trying to keep people interested by ending part one of the article in mid sentence, “He said the result was a”. Readers would be interested in knowing what was said next. The general tone of this article is frantic and energetic. It comes across as urgent is interesting to read, making the reader feel shocked. In The Times, the language is very factual. Every fact is detailed and accurate, “just after 9am local time (0800 GMT) about 1,800ft inside the Kitzsteinhorn mountain, southwest of Salzburg”. The Express lacks this detail. It fails to mention the exact location of the accident. They may consider small details irrelevant to the type of reader this newspaper appeals to. Many of the terms used are complex, and probably not widely understood, “asphyxiation”. The language is very formal, more so than in The Express, “closed automatically did not appear to have done so”. It´s tone is more calm and conservative. It does not sound as dramatic to read, as The Express article was. The reporters appear very distanced from their own personal views, although in an accident like this, personal views would not make fact distorted, as most people would feel the same about it. They do not seize every opportunity to exaggerate descriptions themselves. Instead, they include eye-witness accounts of the event, “people screamed in fear as they desperately tried”. This is a very emotive quote. Because it is an account of a survivor- someone who was involved, it has a more powerful effect on the reader. Conradi and Woodhead just tell the factual detail. They do not hype up the stories. This is typical of The Times. The journalism is usually unbiased, fair, and covering all sides of a story. I personally prefer the article in The Times. I feel it gives a more accurate, detailed view of the events. The journalism is less hyped up. I found I did not need over the top language and ridiculously huge headlines to feel emotionally affected by the issue. The facts are enough. I found the eye-witness accounts moving, and the presence of two pictures helped me to visualise the event more clearly. The Express article was less informative. However, it was very dramatic and eye-catching, and the language was very emotive. It gives adequate coverage of the event to inform someone about the tragedy, without making losing people´s interest with small details. I found this issue extremely shocking. It always hits me when I hear of so many people dying; so young, in such immense pain. I feel great empathy for the people grieving for their loved ones. It makes me think deeply about how precious life is, and how quickly it cannot be taken away from you. I think what has happened is very tragic. People lost their lives, just enjoying themselves on a skiing weekend. No one can ever be prepared for an event like that, and it will cause much devastation amongst so many people.