Compare the online versions of The Sun and The Times

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Traditionally, if you wished to find out the latest news, you would have to pay a visit to your local shop to buy a newspaper, or in some cases wait for delivery during the morning or evening paper round. When newspapers were first in production, electricity was a marvel yet to be discovered, but by the 1990’s technology had advanced so much that the internet was becoming increasingly accessible for families and businesses alike.

Many newspaper companies quickly became aware of the internet’s increasing popularity, and so numerous websites were launched, dedicated to providing the news for the general public in a free and readily available way. The two websites I will be analysing are “The Sun” and “The Times”. “The Sun” is a tabloid newspaper. It is known to sell an average of 3,121,000 copies per day, with 7,900,000 daily readers, of which 56 percent are male and the other 44 percent are female. The target audience of this newspaper is mainly the lower- and middle-class members of society.

It contains many stories related to celebrities, scandals, gossip and local news from within the UK. Although it does cover the more important global news stories, it tends to concentrate more on the UK itself. “The Times” was a broadsheet newspaper, yet switched to “compact size” in 2004 in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. It is known to sell an average of 692,580 copies per day, yet has a much larger number of daily readers. The target audience of The Times is mainly the middle- and upper-class members of society.

Though it also contains many stories related to the UK, it also contains a large quantity of global news. I feel that it is important to make some reference to the differences between the physical newspapers and the online versions. Firstly, the actual newspapers do not tend to be as colourful as the web pages, mainly in the case of “The Times”. This may be due to the fact that printing in colour can be rather expensive, so keeping this to a minimum will help to cut costs for the newspaper companies, and to keep the prices as low as possible for the general public.

Also, it is traditional for newspapers to be in mainly black and white, with just a small number of pictures. Also, using the internet means that user interaction is much easier. Leaving feedback for stories is a very simple task, as generally you can leave comments instantly. If you only read the physical newspaper, it makes this a much more time consuming task, as you would have to write a letter, then post it to the newspaper, and wait for several days, or even weeks, before a decision was made on whether or not it should be published.

This means that the internet is much more useful for audiences with less free time, as it only requires a short amount of time to log on to your computer and post a comment. Interaction between newspapers and readers is more tedious and much more time consuming. With the websites, if there is a particular story you are interested in, you can click on a link to read the whole story, which is very quick and simple, whereas with a newspaper you may have to leaf through many pages of stories which do not interest you to find the one you were looking for.

This makes it a far less tedious task using the websites rather than the newspapers, however this does depend on factors such as age, as the younger generation tend to be much more web savvy so can navigate around internet sites much more quickly and internet connection speed, as if you have a slow connection the time you could save would be much decreased. The newspaper is much more user friendly compared to the internet sites, as if certain people, especially the older generation, are not very web-savvy, they could save themselves the trouble by simply buying a newspaper.

I believe that the “Times Online” website is much easier to use than “The Sun’s” website, as the hyperlinks are arranged in a very easily understood way and it makes it clear where you have to click to find what you are searching for. “The Sun’s” website has hyperlinks which are set out in a much more complicated way, and as, in some cases, slang is used to mark these hyperlinks it can be difficult to understand which one you need to click to navigate to the required page.

However as the target audience for “The Sun” is younger than that of “The Times”, this suggests that “The Sun’s” readers will be more web-savvy, so should be able to handle a more complicated website. This does not, however, mean that every reader of “The Sun” will choose to use the website, as there will still be some older readers who may not understand how to use the internet so will decide to read the physical paper. I believe that the main stories chosen show a lot about the particular newspapers.

For example I checked on both websites to find that the main story on “The Sun’s” website was regarding the Rhys Jones murder trial. When I looked on the “Times Online” website I found that the main story was regarding the present economic crisis and the G7 ministers. In order to find the Rhys Jones story on the “Times Online” website I found I had to look underneath the main story for a link. This suggests that for readers of “The Times” this story was not the most important of the day.

This could be true, as the middle- and upper-classes generally tend to be more interested in the stock market, as many of them, especially the upper-class, tend to have certain amounts of their wealth invested in shares. This could show that the purpose of “The Times” is to deliver the national news, as well as the larger global stories, whereas the purpose of “The Sun” is to deliver emotive stories to their audience. When I clicked on the links for the Rhys Jones story, I immediately noticed contrast between the two websites.

On “The Sun’s” website, the story took up almost the whole width of the page, whereas on the “Times Online” website, it only took up half the width of the page. This, again, relates to the importance of the story to the readers. The headline on “The Sun’s” website was “Dying moments shown on CCTV” and the opening line was “THE heartbroken father of tragic Rhys Jones watched his son’s fatal shooting for the first time yesterday – on a video shown to court.

If this is compared to the headline on the “Times Online” website “Father of Rhys Jones watches son shot on time-lapse CCTV”, and also the opening sentence “The father of Rhys Jones sat in a hushed courtroom yesterday as the killing of his 11-year-old son by a hooded gunman was shown in graphic, time-lapse CCTV” we can see that “The Sun” uses much more emotive language, for example “heartbroken father” and “fatal shooting” whereas “The Times” has used “father of Rhys Jones” and “the killing”.

This helps to make their audience really feel for Rhys Jones’ father. As “The Sun’s” language is more emotive, I believe that they wish to forge a strong connection with the audience and so this helps them to fulfil their purpose of delivering more emotive stories. This is not the case with “The Times” however as generally readers of this newspaper have different interests to readers of “The Sun” and so prefer to read stories which are more concerned with global news, rather than emotive stories.

I believe that by having less emotive language, this helps “The Times” to fulfil their purpose as, although I believe this is to deliver more global news, I do feel that the story of Rhys Jones’ murder is of interest to many people in the UK, and so readers would want to find out the latest coverage although it is not global as such. I believe that the “Times Online” website looked more like a physical newspaper than “The Sun’s” website. This is because it is mainly in black and white, with several coloured images on the home page, to represent the front page of a newspaper.

However, the layout was very different to that of a physical newspaper, as it was arranged in small sections with links to other pages, rather than having larger sections containing the whole story. On the other hand, there were very few advertisements containing animation on this webpage, so this helped to make it look more like a physical newspaper. The only advertisements were for “The Times Business Directory” and “The Times Golf Club”.

These advertisements are specific to their audience as the middle- and upper-class members of society are generally more likely to be business owners interested in listing their company in a reputable business directory. Also, they golf is seen to be a sport which appeals more to people on a higher income, so a golfing advert on the “Times Online” we3bsite would be much more suitable than the same advert on “The Sun’s” website. These advertisements were in neutral colours, e. g. green, brown and black, and so this helps to make the page appear more prestigious, appealing to the older and wealthier audience.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, it is more traditional to have the majority of the paper in black and white. “The Sun’s” website was rather different to an actual newspaper. On the website, some parts of the text were in red, whereas in an actual newspaper all of the text is in black, unless it is a title or within an advertisement. Also, on the website, the information seemed very crammed in. This may be to give their readers the impression that the website is bursting with stories. These methods will tend to work better with “The Sun’s” readers, as the average reader’s age is younger than that of “The Times”.

Also, there were several flash images and marquees at the top of the page, and several bright and eye-catching advertisements for “Coral Online Betting”. I feel that this advertisement is specific to “The Sun’s” audience as they appeals more to the younger members of society, as gambling is rather popular with them, as are the brighter and more upbeat advertisements. The links on “The Times” website were for: news; comment; business; money; sport; life and style; travel; driving; and arts and entertainment.

If you clicked on one of these it split into smaller sections to make it easier to find exactly what you were looking for. This would appeal to the older members of society, as the layout is simple to come to terms with, and is set out in a very classic way. The different sections would each have a different purpose, e. g. news is there to inform their readers, arts and entertainment is there to entertain. On “The Sun’s” website there are links for: travel; health; mobile; motors; Mystic Meg; Dear Deirdre; page 3; fun; woman; TV; showbiz; sport; news; and video.

Again, if you clicked on one of these it split into smaller sections. As some of these sections were named with slang terms, such as “motors” or “showbiz”, it appeals more to the younger members of society. Also, it is harder to find what you are looking for, but generally the younger audience tend to be more web-savvy, so this should not cause any problems. Again, the different sections will have different purposes, e. g. fun for entertainment, Dear Deirdre for advice. The colours used on “The Times” website were prestigious colours, such as grey, black and blue.

This helps it to look rather classy and appeals more to the older and wealthier members of society. The colours used on “The Sun’s” website were very bright, with mainly black font, but important parts in red, and many borders and text boxes in red. This helps it to appear more upbeat, so appeals to a younger audience. Also, on this website the pictures tended to be large and numerous. This, again, helps to appeal to a younger audience. However on “The Times” website there tended to be rather small pictures, and few of them.

This, again, helps the site to appear more prestigious, and appeals to an older and wealthier audience. In conclusion, I feel that the although the newspapers are very similar with regards to the layout of hyperlinks etc, overall they are rather different, as they both use different techniques to appeal to their audience, e. g. “The Sun” uses more emotive language and puns, and “The Times” uses more formal language. They also use different techniques in order to help them fulfil their purpose. On the whole I feel that both newspapers are very effective in addressing their target audiences and fulfilling their purposes.

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