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I am going to discuss the way that two newspapers, a tabloid and a broadsheet, approach portraying the same subject. The articles I have chosen to compare discuss the eighth victim of the Washington sniper.





As only about 70% of the readers continue to read the first paragraph, the headline is an important factor of the article.


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“The Sun” uses the headline ‘ Victim No8’. As the headline is short and straight to the point it helps to provoke a reaction from the reader. It makes us feel as though more victims are to come and instils fear into the imagination. The letters are in uppercase, are bold and in a common font. A subheading is also placed directly underneath the headline. It is detailed and informative, using simple understandable language, and has a slight effect of pyramid writing to it. The words vary in height to the headlines. The word ‘fear’ is used as it describes the feeling of the entire community in Washington. The headline in The Sun contains a number written in the form of a digit whilst in The Independent the numbers are written as words.


Unlike in “The Sun”, the headline in “The Independent” is longer, yet does not, and cannot go into a lot of detail. It does not include a sub line and is quite small in comparison to “The Sun’s”. As it uses a variety of upper and lower case letters it is not as attention grabbing as a headline with all uppercase text. Due to the absence of emotive language the headline does not encourage a personal response and cause the reader to feel sentimental.


The positioning of the article usually depends on how interesting the subject is and the subject’s importance factor. The article in “The Sun” is on the fourth page of the newspaper and takes up approximately one third of the page. It is a long article and is divided into several paragraphs underneath subheadings concerning the subject matter. This helps to keep the readers interest by breaking down the information therefore simplifying it. It has three columns of text and a full column of images. The photographs are boxed and have small captions of writing underneath describing the events in the picture. Bordering them helps section them off from the article making them easier to look at and understand.


Whereas the article in “The Sun” is large and has an air of importance surrounding it, the article in The Independent is small and unappealing to the eye. It does not contain any graphics and is short length wise, but it is a front-page article therefore it would usually be read anyway even though it appears to be uninteresting. The text is divided into two columns and a small font has been used.


Both articles have a by-line and both are paragraphed to introduce a formal element.


Emotive, powerful and descriptive languages are the key elements that both provoke reactions from us, the readers and make us want to continue reading the article.


“The Sun” displays all three key elements in the first paragraph. The use of powerful adjectives such as ‘maniac’, ‘slammed’ and ‘gripped’ generate reactions and make the readers feel as though they have been affected and are personally involved. The Sun also uses personification to inject feeling into the text. The phrase ‘gripped by panic’ is an example of personification. It has the effect of making us realise how much everyone is affected by the attacks and that the panic is a widespread emotion. It makes us feel we share a part of that emotion, we are not just reading about it.


“A bullet slammed into his chest”. This is the emotion packed phrase that illustrates what happened as the Sniper claimed his eighth victim. The use of the word “slammed” has the effect that the child was not just shot but was inhumanely, savagely gunned down. The imagery ‘slammed’ could also be symbolising the boy’s confidence and the community’s hope being taken away. The story is written in informal register, as people in social groups C, D and E would probably read the paper. The whole story displays powerful language and this has the effect of making the reader feel emotional and sympathetic. The article has an air of being dramatised as it uses hyperbole. This helps to make the reader want to continue reading and aids in stressing the importance of the subject being discussed.


In comparison, The Independent is detailed, informative and gives a deeper explanation of what happened. Unlike “The Sun”, it deals with facts and does not appear to be trying to rouse personal responses or reactions. The article is written in formal register. As it is an article in a broadsheet paper it is more likely to be aimed at social groups A, B and C therefore it uses complex words and the text is not always simplified.


Both articles use pyramid writing but whereas “The Sun’s” headline and sub line are quite informative and cover nearly all aspects of the pyramid, The Independent does not cover all aspects until ten lines into the first paragraph, not including the headline.


Like the writing the photographs in “The Sun” are enthralling and full of emotion. The images have so much packed into them it is almost as they say more than words. The graphics, one family, one political and one community, show us that everyone is affected by the shootings and that no one, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, is safe from the Snipers’ wrath.


In a column of their own and bordered the images snatch the readers mind. All of the photographs depict people but their faces are not clearly seen. Their heads are hung, making it hard for us to see their expressions. Their bowed heads could symbolise the lost hope as yet another victim is claimed. Both sexes are present in the pictures, which again shows us that no one is spared from the pain and fear.


As “The Independent” lacks images it appears to lack emotion but the absence of illustrations has a hidden message. It could represent that the area under discussion is too horrific to be depicted and that the use of photographs could be an exploitation of the citizens of Washington’s grief.





Both of the newspapers are aiming to sell their papers to different audiences. “The Independent”, being a broadsheet paper, is targeting their newspapers at higher social groups and more widely educated people. This is shown in the writing as it uses more complex words and is written in a more formal and informative way. In “The Sun” the main target audiences are the lower social groups and people with a lesser education. In the writing this is shown by “The Sun’s” use of less detailed writing and instead of explaining things to give a very detailed account, things are written emotionally and are simplified so that they are easier to understand.


When a newspaper writes an article it aims to inform the reader about the subject, challenge certain relevant points and also, make the read enjoyable, therefore entertaining the reader. Certain newspapers handle these different aspects better. For instance, it is usually true that a broadsheet newspaper such as “The Independent” handles the informing side of things better and a tabloid paper such as “The Sun” is usually better at the entertainment side of things. This is shown in the Sniper article as “The Sun” plays on peoples raised emotions and makes people feel sentimental when they read the article whereas “The Independent” sole aim is to inform people and this is showed as it does not contain much emotive, descriptive or powerful language in it’s text. These key points are what the newspapers rely on to sell their papers. “The Sun” relies on people feeling emotional and enjoying the read and “The Independent’s” sole aim is to widen the reader’s knowledge of the Snipers Shootings.


In my opinion, “The Sun”, the tabloid paper, portrays this particular subject better as it plays on people’s raised emotions. I feel that the broadsheet paper, all though it handles the facts better, does not have a sentimental atmosphere and therefore seems uninteresting and lacking of emotion. I think that as “The Independent” is a more balanced article it does give a more informative read than the tabloid. “The Sun” aims to play on people’s emotions, as that is what ensures high newspaper sales and also encourages people to talk about the article. As the people talk about the article and the newspaper, the newspaper is being advertised by word of mouth. After taking this into consideration I still feel that “The Sun” handles this particular subject best. I do realise I may feel that the tabloid handles ‘The Sniper’ subject as I am in the lower social groups and I am a fifteen year old student. I feel that if the subject being discussed was not such tragic event it is probably best to read a broadsheet but I do also believe that if the matter being talked about is upsetting to many people across a nation, the readers want to feel that emotion when they read the article and a broadsheet paper is not as capable of sending out that message as the tabloid paper is.





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