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Media Studies

www.curriculum-press.co.uk

Number 013

British National Newspapers – An Overview • • • •

The aims of this Factsheet are to: • Introduce the topic of British national newspapers • Analyse a selection of British national newspapers using media concepts • Define key terms associated with British national newspapers

• British newspapers are an important and well established part of British culture. They are responsible for informing the public of regional, national and global news, as well as helping to shape and influence public opinion on important social, moral and political issues. National newspapers are distributed throughout the country and can be divided into three genres: • • •

Tabloid Newspaper Analysis The masthead is bold allowing the audience to identify the newspaper without detracting attention away from the splash headline ‘Cowell Sacks Louis’. While the use of humour in the strap-line ‘the axe factor’ directs the audience towards where the narrative will take place. The language and mode of address of the newspaper are ideologically leading: ‘Man who thinks this [image of an old car] is sexier than this [image of a Page Three www.thesun.co.uk/newsint- model]’, informal, ‘Punch cop in CCTV storm’ and emotive ‘Cowell archive.co.uk/ Sacks Louis’.

Tabloids (red-tops): The Sun; The Star; The Sport and The Daily Mirror. Mid-Range Tabloids (black-tops): The Daily Mail and The Daily Express. Broadsheets: The Times; The Guardian; The Independent and The Telegraph.

Starting your analysis A good starting point when analysing newspapers is to identify the media language or technical codes that the text uses to address and create meaning for its audience. Beginning your analysis with media language should help you to identify the genre of the text and the intended target audience. The media language will also help you to identify the representations that are being used in the text and aid your evaluation of how representations can help shape the texts narrative and ideologies. Many students forget that texts are shaped by the institutions that create them. Because institutions have their own agenda and ideologies when creating a text for public consumption you must try to also incorporate your understanding of these issues into your analysis.

The headlines for each feature use simple lexis to quickly direct and position the audience. The headline story focuses on ITV firing X Factor judge Louis Walsh and host Kate Thornton. The headline restricts information and allows the audience to believe that Simon Cowell has personally fired Louis Walsh. Although the story is not an exclusive the newspaper has used this feature as its headline story. The use of ‘Cowell’ and ‘Louis’ positions the audience to show sympathy towards Louis and see him as an individual who has been mistreated. ‘Louis’ holds personal connotations for the audience, allowing them to view him as a friend and an innocent victim of Simon Cowell. The use of ‘Cowell’ is impersonal and holds connotations of authority, reinforcing Simon Cowell’s ‘Mr Nasty’ TV and tabloid press persona.

Exam Hint : - Media language is simply the choice of layout, images, sounds, language and text an institution has chosen in order to convey meaning in their media product. In print based media, the media language is a combination of text, layout choicest and images. Because of this it is very common for students to only describe what they see. The examiners reports state that not analysing the effect media language is having on the overall text will cause students to lose marks. It is essential that once you have identified the media language you must then analyse the impact it could have on the target audience.

Definition Exclusives are a popular device used by tabloids to attract mass audiences. Exclusive stories are covered solely by a newspaper that has secured a deal with the person(s) involved with a shocking or publicly appealing current event. Exclusive deals are generally kept confidential by the newspaper involved until the morning of publication to prevent rival www.thesun.co.uk/newsintnewspapers breaking the story. archive.co.uk/

Revision Point: Key Features of the Tabloid Press • • • • •

Dominant use of images to direct the narrative. Use of informal language and mode of address to the audience. Emotional and personal response to the news stories featured. Simplistic in their mode of address and written style, using images and large headlines to convey the narrative quickly to their audience Tabloids often use binary opposites i.e. good versus evil, to quickly attract and position audiences.

Sensationalised or exaggerated versions of current events. Tabloids tend to foster and uphold public opinion and are very often responsible for starting moral panics regarding controversial issues. Use of soft news over hard news stories. Exclusive interviews. Tabloids focus mainly on the personal impact of a story as opposed to examining the overall effect an event has had.

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Media Studies

013. British National Newspapers – An Overview

www.curriculum-press.co.uk

The image used under the headline anchors the audience to the preferred reading of the text, representing Louis Walsh as the victim of Simon Cowell. The image is positioned off-centre with Simon Cowell furthest away, insinuating that he is less important to the narrative than Louis. This reinforces the generic conventions of the tabloid press focusing on the personal impact of a story and not providing a balanced viewpoint. The proxemics in the image show Louis standing over Simon with his hands placed on his shoulders. This holds connotations of Louis being loyal and supportive while Simon’s lower position and facial expression reinforce his deceitful nature and lack of overall importance to the narrative. Ideologically the newspaper seems to be reinforcing public opinion regarding the character of Simon Cowell as a dishonest and spiteful individual who will betray friendship in order to continue making money.

Her positioning in the frame shows her gazing into the camera with her head slightly tilting down, connoting her vulnerability and innocence. She is being represented as the innocent and brave victim and the narrative reinforces these visual representations. Ideologically the institution seems to be denouncing the policeman’s abuse of his authority and lack of respect towards women. Reinforcing the need for women to be protected and for those in positions of power to respect and not abuse the role they play in society. The primary target audience for The Sun appears to be men of varied ages and backgrounds. The car feature acts as a lure and will probably appeal to a combination of loyal male audience members who purchase The Sun partly because of the Page Three feature and men who are intrigued by the presentation of the feature. The X Factor feature appears to be aimed at the newspapers floating readership and will probably attract a wide variety of potential readers due to its connections with a popular mass market TV programme.

The second feature focuses on a man who prefers renovating old cars than dating women. The images used to anchor meaning in the text show an old car versus a stereotypically beautiful and busty Page Three model. The headline uses arrows to direct the audience through the headline and images so they are guided towards her cleavage. The image of the car is shown unfavourably and although it is positioned centrally it is smaller in scale than the image of the model. The model although positioned off-centre acts as a lure to the target audience due to her size, positioning and the way she is represented as being sexually confident and available.

Exam Hint :- Tabloid newspapers are often viewed negatively by both the public and other media; this means the positive role they can play is very often forgotten. Campaigns such as Sara’s Law and the more recent campaign by The Sun for the increase in serving British soldier’s wages are just a few examples of how the tabloid press can play a positive role in society. The examiners reports state that they are expecting you to provide a balanced point of view regarding newspapers; therefore it is important to be able to present both the positive and negative aspects of the tabloid press in your exam response.

The newspaper uses a variety of media language to position the audience to the newspaper's ideological stance. Ideologically The Sun has promoted Page Three for many years and this feature reinforces their support of it. Instantly, the audience are positioned by both the informal and emotive language of the headline which is anchored to the images, reinforcing to the audience that the man involved is crazy for not finding a Page Three model attractive. The narrative and w w w. t h e s u n . c o . u k / n e w s i n t headline appear to be taking a archive.co.uk/ mocking tone and the images used in the headline reinforce this opinion.

Revision Point: Key Features of the Mid-Range Tabloid Press • • • • • • • •

Activity Devise a list of the media language/technical codes that are used on the front-page of any tabloid newspaper. Using the list as your starting point, analyse the effect that each element is having on the text. How does the institution responsible for producing the text help to shape the newspapers representations and ideologies?

Examine the effects a story has had upon the family and/or the national impact of a story. Use a combination of hard news and soft news stories. Some news features will be sensationalised to attract audiences. Hard news features often contain a bias towards family values and the preservation of British culture. Use a combination of images and text to convey the narrative but unlike tabloids the image does not replace the narrative. Are more sophisticated in their mode of address and written style in comparison to tabloids. Use of binary opposites to attract and position audiences. Cultivate and defend public opinion regarding controversial and important social and political issues.

Definition Hard News Hard news is characterised as important global, political, and economic news stories that are current.

The final feature is an update of a previous headline story of a young teenage mother who while on a night out was assaulted by a policeman who was on duty. The use of the words ‘cop’ and ‘storm’ hold connotations of drama and excitement and the simple lexis directs and positions the audience towards the purpose of the narrative. The image used in the article is of the young woman punched by the policeman. She is framed centrally, indicating her importance.

Soft News Soft news is characterised as ‘lighter’ news features for example celebrity gossip, human interest stories, charity and awards events or novelty news features.

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Media Studies

013. British National Newspapers – An Overview

www.curriculum-press.co.uk

Lord Levy is not posing for the camera avoiding direct eye contact and he appears to be unwilling to cooperate with the photographer. The use of this image emphasises Lord Levy’s importance in the article while his pose could hold connotations of guilt or suspicion.

Revision Point: Key Features of the Broadsheet Press •

• •

• •

Broadsheets provide a comprehensive and serious version of news events examining the national, global, and social implications of a story and the news agenda has a hard news focus. The mode of address and written style is formal and authoritative. Soft news features are occasionally reported on but they will not be sensationalised and will have a hard news focus. For example, the racist allegations made surrounding Channel Four’s Celebrity Big Brother (2007) examined the impact the programme was having on Britain and multiculturalism not on the celebrities involved. Soft news features will not report on trivial celebrity news stories but will instead focus on the serious arts i.e. theatre and literature or prominent Royal figures. The narrative is conveyed mainly using text although images are used to break up the large amounts of text on the front-page.

The feature directly next to the lead article ‘Judge refuses to gag Guardian’ works alongside the lead article. This article documents how The Guardian had to fight an injunction to print their lead article on Lord Levy. The article contains no image and instead details how the newspaper was successful in beating the injunction and printing the story. These two articles combined underpin the ideological stance of the newspaper, free speech and truth. These ideologies could also be representative of their www.telegraph.co.uk/news/index/jhtml target audience.

Broadsheet Newspaper Analysis

The masthead is bold and positioned so the audience can easily identify the newspaper. The headline is written in Standard English and the mode of address is formal and authoritarian. The narrative is linear and is not written from a personal or emotional perspective and offers a balanced perspective.

The ideologies displayed on the newspapers front-page are also representative of an audience who are concerned with environmental issues and national and global news. The narrative uses binary opposites in a less overt way than the tabloid press. It represents the newspaper as the hero fighting for free speech, truth and justice while those working against these ideologies are portrayed as the villain. The target audience for the newspaper appears to be aimed at both genders and would appeal to a generally mature audience who take an interest in national and global current events.

http//digital.guardian.co.uk AQA/WJEC/OCR? Each of the awarding bodies has previously used a newspaper front-page as a text in the unseen examination. Therefore it is important to familiarise yourself with the media language and generic conventions of each newspaper genre in preparation for the exam. You should also examine the layout and content that broadsheet and tabloid newspapers use when considering newspapers as a coursework topic.

Linited bias or puns appear in the headlines, underpinning the seriousness of the feature and the subject matter. The mode of address, written style, limited use of images and hard news features identify the genre of the text as a broadsheet newspaper. Above the masthead is a portrait shot of Jeremy Paxman with him directly looking at the audience, this holds connotations of his dominance and importance. The image is anchored with a quote from Paxman regarding the state of England’s littering problems ‘there isn’t a road in England not spattered with evidence of what an ugly, thoughtless people we are becoming’. This quote reinforces Paxman’s outspoken TV persona and acts as a lure for the audience regarding the article he has written.

When analysing the newspapers, consider contemporary issues and debates such as sensationalism, privacy and accuracy. You should provide a balanced argument and use examples of current news issues or debates covered by both the broadsheet and tabloid press. You may also be required to examine the representations of celebrity in the Tabloid press, providing a critical discussion on the relationship that has been forged between celebrities and the tabloid press, while also evaluating the impact this relationship has had upon tabloid audiences.

The splash headline ‘Cash for honours inquiry: key document names Lord Levy’, offers an update on the long running story of the Labour Party’s cash for honours scandal. The strap-line ‘memo from Blair aid says peer tried to influence her’ provides more detail on the nature of the feature. It acts as a lure for the audience and insinuates that the newspaper has exclusive evidence that sheds new light on the scandal. The image used is central to the layout and is cropped to make Lord Levy the main focus.

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Media Studies

013. British National Newspapers – An Overview

www.curriculum-press.co.uk

News Values News stories in tabloid and broadsheet newspapers rely heavily on news values. News values are an important theoretical part of any analysis because they can help to identify the ideologies and news agenda of the institutions that produce a newspaper. Using the frontpage of The Sun newspaper the table below offers an example of how an analysis using news values could be approached. If you begin your analysis by using a similar table it could help you identify which news values are relevant to your analysis. This method will also help you to avoid describing what is in front of you and instead help you to evaluate the effect that news values are having on your overall analysis.

Activity Apply Harcup’s news values (below) to the front-page of a newspaper of your choice. What is the main value of your newspaper? How relevant are Harcup’s news values when analysing the news agenda of your newspaper? Do you feel your newspaper has a specific news agenda? Does your newspaper conform to its genre? If so how does it do this?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/newsint-archive.co.uk/ Harcup’s News Values

Description of example from The Sun (above)

How is news value applied?

The Power Elite

Government & the Army

Detailing how government are over taxing public and not supporting the army with proceeds.

Celebrity

David Beckham

Sympathy felt for Beckham as audience feel he’s leaving because he is no longer England captain & not due to the money offered in the USA.

Entertainment

N/A

N/A

Surprise

Potential pay-as-you-go taxation on the roads

Potential tax increases, this could anger the audience.

Bad News

Road price shock & Beckham leaving.

Tax increases & loss of a national sport hero.

Good News

Army pay increase

Troops deserve pay rise & audience have helped them achieve it.

Magnitude

Road price shock

Could be very expensive/loss of individual freedom on roads.

Relevance

Beckham leaving

World cup/national sport hero, very popular with public.

Army pay increase

War in Iraq/troops need support for morale Majority of

Road price shock

audience drive-informing them of tax.

Follow Ups

Beckham & Army pay increase.

Stories heavily monitored by the paper.

News Agenda

Soft news focus with some hard news issues being raised

Generic conventions of tabloid press, personal focus throughout features.

Exam Hint :- The examiner does not expect you to apply all of the news values to your textual analysis. All you need to consider when applying the news values is which ones will help further your analysis and are relevant to your argument. Once you have decided which news values to use it is important that you do not just simply describe the definition of the news values but instead analyse their effect. Acknowledgements: This Media Studies Factsheet was researched and written by Emma Cairns Curriculum Press. Bank House, 105 King Street, Wellington, TF1 1NU. ISSN 1351-5136

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13 British newspapers