SHORT ESSAYS ABOUT ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS
by Giovanni De Sio Cesari
In this short essay I compared two
articles, one from “THE TIME”, the
British longest-running newspaper, and the other one from the
“MIRROR”, a tabloid of very large
Their topic is a terrible event: the
death of three brothers in the fire of their house.
The background is the long “war”
between catholic and protestant people (more than 4000 deaths in 30 years of
struggles): Protestants, usually, celebrate the victory of the battle of the
Bayne with big parades. This year the Protestants have been banned from the
parade in the nationalistic street Garvaghy road in Co Armag because of the
growing tension between the two fringes.
In Dumcree, a mixed area with a
protestant majority, there have been some threats against the Catholics. Many of
them in the days before the terrible event,
had received a bullet with these three words on it:” get out now”.
In the night between the 11th and the 12th
of July a petrol bomb was sent spinning in the house of the catholic Christine
Quinn. She escaped but her kids died in the fire. The mother of the children is
Catholic, but their fathers are Protestant; the children grew up as protestants,
and just some hours before the tragedy, They had helped to prepare bonfires for
the protestant celebration of the battle of the Bayne. The mother and her
partner managed to escape, but
because of the heat and the smoke, they couldn’t reach the children.
This terrible event provoked a strong indignation from both sides.
THE TIMES is made of a smaller
number of pages (24) , while the
pages of the MIRROR are nearly the double (47).
The prices of the two newspapers are
the same (30 p); usually the price of the “quality papers” (broadsheets) is
higher than the one of the
“popular papers” (tabloids).
Looking inside the articles, we can
find out that in THE TIMES the writer is qualified as “ chief correspondent”,
and so we can think there is an editorial office, while in the MIRROR the writer
is just a name without qualification; there
isn’t an editorial office, but just a journalist sent there for the event.
Talking about headlines: both of
them are not easy to understand; you should already know the events, the
background and the frame to understand them.
The headline of THE TIMES:
“ Child victims of blazing hatred among red, white and blue”. To
realise what the headline is talking about, you are supposed to know the meaning
of the three colours, and what is “the blazing hatred”. As usual the verb is
The headline of the MIRROR is even
harder to understand: ”We are burning our kids on the altar of hatred”. It
doesn’t show the event, in fact it is a statement of a leader, as the same
article explains later on. You can understand the headline only if you already
know the event.
In the MIRROR there are six pictures,
in THE TIMES there is only one: the educated reader of THE TIMES doesn’t need
pictures, while the less educated reader of the MIRROR is attracted by the
pictures, sometimes the whole article is just an excuse to publish the pictures.
To draw more attention from its
readers, the MIRROR has five paragraphs with different typographic characters:
in this way the readers can read only the parts of the article which
contain the important points, while the readers of THE TIMES, who have a good
reading capacity, will read the whole article.
The layout of THE TIMES seems more
accurate than the one of the MIRROR. In
the MIRROR the paragraphs haven’t a real order: in THE TIMES there is a real
order according to a logic: the comments of the most important leaders are
separated from the article, in another
frame with the headline “BLACK MORNING”: in this way the reader can
read the facts first then the comments of the common people and of the relatives,
and so he can have a clear idea of the political position.
In the MIRROR, in a very confused way, all the comments are
mixed together (common people, political speakers
In the MIRROR there is a piece of
news that in THE TIMES is not reported: a football boss ( KEN BATES) offers a
reward to find the killers. The news has scarce importance; perhaps an emotive
outlet. While THE TIMES doesn’t mention the news at all, the “MIRROR”
gives a great importance to it ( big headline apart from the article, picture of
Ken Bates), in the article Mr Bates seems to become catholic (“now I’m
lapsed catholic converted”): we can well understand
that the “war” between Catholics and Protestants is not a matter of
real religion but just ethnic hatred, but everything is good to capture the
attention of the emotive reader.
In both articles direct speech is
used. This is strange because indirect speech is used usually in the “quality
papers” . I think this is because
both articles use other sources such as a press agency, and so they have the same words: for instance the mother’s
words are the same in both articles; the meaning of this is that neither of the
two journalists spoke to the mother
The conclusion is that the articles
have not as many differences than they usually have: I think this is because the
event is so terrible, so painful that the people fell only the pain and so the
political points are left out.
Anyway the differences between the two news papers are clear: THE TIMES has educated people as its target, who like reading, and are able to understand the main question. The MIRROR has as its target less educated people, unable to understand the main question, but much more interested in the simple and daily aspects of life