This assessment asks you to demonstrate your understanding of news values and the demands of distinct audiences and platforms, by undertaking a comparative analysis of the coverage of a major news story in the British print and online media.
Anytime after June 1, 2012, find a breaking national or international news story that interests you and that is covered in both the ‘quality’ and ‘popular/tabloid’ British daily press, as well as online. The best kind of story to look at is likely to be one which involves a conflict of opinion or perception, perhaps based around a policy issue, political row or controversial event/statement, but any piece of breaking ‘hard’ news (such as a major crime, high profile death, etc) is also likely to work for this purpose. Avoid sports stories.
Your task is to compare and analyse, in 1,000 words, how the story has been treated in three different places: a quality paper (Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent), a ‘popular/tabloid’ paper and a website (the website can be EITHER the site of one of the papers you have analysed OR a site with no sister newspaper, such as the BBC).
The structure of your analysis is broadly up to you, but make sure that you:
1. Briefly describe the story, explain when and how it broke, and indicate to what extent and why, in your view, it was ‘news’.
2. Explain how it was treated by each outlet. Your principal focus should be on textual analysis – ie the angle, structure, language and tone of the writing itself (in headlines and body copy). You might also briefly consider things such as placement, presentation, extent of coverage, and (online) interactivity, searchability, etc.
3. Consider and explain what the distinctions and similarities in coverage tell us about:
a. The readership of each newspaper/site
b. The characteristics of print and online news publishing
c. The ethics and competence of the journalists who produced it.
You should attempt, where appropriate, to relate your observations to reading you have done on the unit or as research for this assignment. Harvard reference your sources, including a bibliography at the end. References and bibliography are NOT part of the word count. Please also submit cuttings of the newspaper articles and the url (web address) of the page/pages analysed online.
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