The British Press Essay Research Paper It — страница 2

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content. As well as news items of the day – the big political word of the day (e.g. an update on the London Mayor situation), disasters (e.g. the 1984 Ethiopian famine) newsworthy celebrity events (e.g. the death of Princess Diana) and the day’s sports news – the tabloid press more often than not has a big piece(s) concerning what have become tongue-in-cheek stereotypes: sex, violence, public figures in compromising positions or merely going about their everyday lives, and often a paper ‘campaign’. Often these topics take precedent, or are given as much importance as, for example, the Mozambique floods or a stock market crash, if these items have no particular ’sensation’ value. Take for example, The Sun’s front page of April 4th 2000 (see attachments). On a day

when the broadsheets and the television news were concentrating on Ken Livingstone’s controversy over the inquiry into breaking company law and its impact on his role as London Mayor and the other big story, the computer giant Microsoft being taken to court, its shares falling massively and the consequential impact on today’s millions of PC users, the Sun’s front page shouted “OWN A DONOR”. Far from being an empathetic piece on the hundreds of people who are saved by organ donation, or a concentration on the waiting list, the article was concerned mainly with being proud of its paper … “Today The Sun makes newspaper history with the launch of a groundbreaking health campaign”. This pushing of the papers corporate identity and its ’services to society’ is a

common trait of tabloids. Very regularly the tabloid press turn important issues into commercial ventures and ‘blow their own trumpets’. The other front page story was headlined “SEX CHAIN SNAPS UP KNICKERBOX” and typically added a full length picture of a model in her underwear – an attention grabber, granted, but is the story one which warrants taking precedent over important political news? So, why do the tabloids sell as much as they do – The Sun is Britain’s biggest selling newspaper with a readership of over 10 million; yet it still is bombarded with criticism. Perhaps those who criticise the “gutter press” are merely unimpressed with the content – but many people clearly are impressed! Tabloids often use sexual elements or intimate and ‘gory’

details to make a story more interesting to a reader. Having witnessed a shift in the emphasises of the tabloids, the readerships have come to expect and want more stories which are viewed as being sensationalistic. By their use of such detail and ‘punchy’ language, the empathy and genuine human-interest of often appalling stories of crime and violence is lost. Soothhill and Walby1 studied the abundance and structural reporting of ’sex crime in the news’ and one of their main points is that the fact that although “there is a complicated relationship between what is printed in the newspapers and what people come to believe” and that people do not “passively and uncritically absorb all that they read”, the reportage of sex crimes does have a baring on what people

believe and aids in misconception and sensationalism as regards serious issues. “…the nature of reporting obscures the real nature of sexual violence: it underestimates the extent of these crimes, and reports on unusual cases, for instance those in which the rapist is a stranger and serial rapists” (pp. 157) The 24 January 2000 issue of The Mirror reports a story headlined “RAID VICTIM ELAYNE, 26, DROPS DEAD OF SHOCK”. The story concerns the death of a woman after discovering her home had been broken into. This is obviously a lamentable incident, but the writer (Ian Key) uses language such as “she just collapsed on the floor” and quotes a friend of the deceased saying “I wish they had got in because I would have had a go at sorting them out!”; these examples are

mere instances of the writers insensitivity towards the plight of the victim and her relatives. The author seems to ‘rub in’ the fact that the thief did not even enter the house and so the shock was not so great as to warrant a death, but he doesn’t do this in the sense of ‘what a needless death’, the references are almost mockingly ironic. The media industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. A massive proportion of Britain’s population own and watch a television a regular basis. With the ‘globalization’ of television and the vast array of channels, news and entertainment are just the press of a button away for most people. With access to the news always at their fingertips, are people beginning to rely on the popular press for