The difference between a tabloid and broadsheet

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I have chosen to analyse and compare two articles on the same topic, one from a broadsheet and the other from a tabloid newspaper. Both of the articles discuss the same issue of the Lewis Hamilton racism row, and how Spanish “fans” were racist towards him during a test session in Barcelona. The topic engages me because I find it interesting how tabloid and broadsheet newspapers deal with racism in different ways.

Aim:

The main aim of my project is to find out how a tabloid and a broadsheet newspaper deal with the topic of racism. I would like to compare and find differences on the type of lexis and features used by both newspapers, and how they affect the story that is being told. I predict that a broadsheet newspaper uses far more formal lexis and gives more detail. I also think that a broadsheet newspaper does not contain bias, and displays both sides of the argument. I think that a tabloid newspaper, on the other hand, would contain more simple lexis, and would make plain judgements without displaying both sides of the argument. I would expect a tabloid article to contain more bias.

Data:

I will be using two newspaper articles, one from ‘The Sun’ and the other from ‘The Times’. Both articles are on the topic of the Lewis Hamilton racism row, and both were published on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008. The article in the tabloid newspaper appears on the front page as a main story, and continues on page 6. In the broadsheet newspaper, the article appears on page 68 of the sport section. This tells us that The Sun obviously regard this story as being very important as it appears on the FrontPage, whereas The Guardian doesn’t think that the story is a major one for the day, as it does not appear on the in the earlier pages of the newspaper.

Analysis of article from ‘The Sun’

Graphology:

The article that I am analysing appears on the front page of The Sun, as a main story being published on that day. A large, bold headline appears under the phrase ‘F1 Racism Storm’, reading ‘A load of Prix’. This is clearly a homophone, as there are two meanings, two spellings but identical sounds of the word ‘prix’. The word ‘Prix’ could be considered as taboo lexis if it was spelt differently. A sub-heading appears underneath this reading ‘Lewis blasts Spanish bigots as fury grows’, with ‘blasts’ being an example of journalese. A contrast appears between the two small photographic images shown on the front page. One shows Hamilton with a sad-looking face, and immediately next to him is one of the fans who were taunting the racing driver.

The story continues on the sixth page of the newspaper with an emotional headline used to draw the reader’s attention, underneath this is a large image of the driver appearing upset. Beneath the headline is a sub-heading which briefly describes what the article is about. Two other smaller images are present on the page, one showing the racists, and one showing Hamilton shaking hands with his ex-McLaren team-mate, Fernando Alonso. The article consists of only one column of text, built up around three main images.

Phonology:

The article in the tabloid newspaper contains several quotes and pieces of speech from different people. Quotations have been obtained from the Sports Minister and Lewis Hamilton himself. The speech used by these two people is in first, opposed to second person. Evidence such as ‘I thought’, ‘I never’ and ‘I’d like’ are examples of this and are used to convey emotions and feelings across to the reader.

Elision is used throughout the article, as they are normal speech characteristics, for example, ‘I’d like’ and ‘It wasn’t’. This makes the speech more informal which may be different to what is contained in a broadsheet article.

We can assume that the tone of Lewis Hamilton’s speech is quite sad and upset, which we can see from the speech “I feel quite sad”. I would assume that the tone of the Sports Minister is quite angry, as the quote ‘”I’d like to see our government make a really big issue of this”‘, sounds quite judgemental and authoritative, and makes himself want to be seen as being tough on racism.

It is clearly evident that this tabloid article contains several pieces of spoken language, as well as written language.

Lexis/Register?:

The type of lexis used within the article is quite core and simple. Monosyllabic words are used throughout to make it more understandable by the target audience, such as ‘track’, ‘right’, ‘host’ and ‘black’. Many disyllabic words are also used, for example ‘branded’, ‘bigots’, ‘twisted’ and ‘couldn’t’. I would expect more monosyllabic words to be used in a tabloid newspaper, to appeal more to its target audience. A small selection of polysyllabic words has also been used by the author, such as ‘championship’, ‘counterpart’ and ‘authorities’.

The register of the text is quite informal, Standard English is also used throughout the article to convey different views and opinions, and generally tell the story.

Taboo lexis is used in a part of the article, but the full words are not actually said, some of the letters are replaced with small stars (*). The example of this is ‘”Black S***”‘ and ‘”F****** black”‘.

Journalese is used heavily throughout the article to add more drama to the story. Lexis such as ‘twisted’, ‘taunted’, ‘stripped’ and ‘jeered’ are examples of this feature. I would expect more examples of journalese to be present in a tabloid article rather than a broadsheet one, because broadsheet newspapers are usually more formal and far more factual.

A lexical field of abusive language is present within the article. Words such as ‘”black s***”‘, ‘”f****** black”‘, ‘twisted’, ‘taunted’ and ‘vile’ are all examples of this. There are certainly no examples of specialist/jargon lexis, as tabloid articles use quite basic language so that their articles can be understood by all age ranges.

Semantics:

The headline of the article itself ‘A load of prix’ introduces to us the first piece of humour within the article. This is in the form of a homophone. The word ‘prix’ has two meanings, two spellings but identical sounds to another word, which is of taboo lexis.

Also on the front page, a contrast is apparent between the two small photographic images. One of them is a picture of Hamilton looking sad and upset, and the other an image of a fan taunting him. This is a contrast because they show the images side by side, displaying the two angles of the main article.

Connotations of particular words are used strongly in this article to give wider associations or implied meanings. The insult ‘taunted’, which is in the sub-heading on page six of ‘The Sun’, gives an implied meaning of many other verbs such as bully, harass, insult, tease etc. Another adjective in the same sub-heading ‘twisted’, gives connotations of other words such as abnormal, cruel, bitter and sick.

Bias may be apparent in this article in the form that the reporter is not telling us, the readers, why Lewis Hamilton has been getting racial abuse. In all circumstances racial abuse should not be tolerated in any way, but what the reporters don’t really tell us is if Hamilton did anything to the Spanish fans to provoke what they have done to him.

Grammar and syntax:

First person opinions are used throughout the article to make it more realistic and authentic to the reader. They are also used to give opinions, judgements and feelings on specific issues that are being discussed. ‘”I feel quite sad”‘ is an example of a first person opinion being used to show emotion. ‘”I’d like to see our government….”‘, on the other hand is an example of a first person judgement.

Proper nouns are used throughout the article to tell the audience places, and people speaking. ‘Barcelona’ is an example of a proper noun being used to tell us the setting. ‘Saturday’ is an example of a proper noun giving a time, and ‘Lewis Hamilton’ is an example giving the name of a person who is speaking. A small quantity of abstract nouns are used to display the main topic of the article, ‘Racism’, and also emotions of Lewis Hamilton, ‘sad’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘sickening’

Modal auxiliaries are used throughout the article to convey different moods, possibilities and attitudes. ‘”The sports authorities must…”‘, is an example of the modal auxiliary ‘must’ be using to make a strong argument. ‘”The fans should….”‘, is also an example of the modal auxiliary ‘should’ being used, but this time isn’t as much of an emphasised factor.

Pre-modification of nouns is also used in several places in the article to add extra emphasis on particular phrases; ‘big issue’ is an example of this from the text. Pre-modification is also used in tabloid newspapers to try to emphasis something strongly, or to make the article appear more attractive to the reader.

The complexity of the sentences, as expected in a tabloid newspaper article, are quite simple with very few being complex. The complex sentences are still easy to read as clauses are separated with commas and hyphens. The main two sentence types that appear within the article are declarative and imperative sentences. Declarative sentences are used to make statements within the article, for example, ‘Some even mocked him with black make-up, wigs and t-shirts…’. Imperative sentences are used to give orders or strong suggestions, for example, ‘”I’d like to see our government make a really big issue”‘. Minor sentences do not occur in the newspaper articles as they are usually found in spoken texts. Ellipsis also does not appear because it is a written, not a spoken text. The syntax of the article is Standard English throughout.

Analysis of article from ‘The Times’

Graphology:

The article that I am analysing in the broadsheet newspaper appears on page sixty-eight in the sports section of ‘The Times’. A fairly large bold headline appears at the top of the article, this describes what the article is about in a very formal tone, without using any humour in order to attract attention. Two small sub-headings appear beneath the headline which gives two main important factors that will be discussed further in the article. Underneath this, they tell the readers who wrote the article, which shows they are obviously very proud of there reporters.

The article consists of four main columns of text, beneath of which is a large photographic image. This image shows a picture of the racists who were taunting Hamilton, and is followed by a caption detailing further what the image is about.

Phonology:

Spoken language is used throughout the broadsheet article in the form of quotations from other people. Ideas and thoughts have been obtained from the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, in relation to what views he has on the racist abuse Hamilton has received. He talks in the first person ‘I was shocked…’ and also makes use of declarative sentences ‘…should not be tolerated…’ A footballer also gives his views on the abuse Hamilton has received, he talks in the first person but used more colloquial lexis and contractions, ‘…the face-painting and stuff’, is an example of colloquial lexis. Contractions such as ‘I’m’ are used.

The Spanish Motor Sport federation also give their views and opinions but speak in a more authoritative using formal and Standard English sentences. Lewis Hamilton uses the first person to display he’s emotions and feelings ‘I feel…sad’, ‘I am in love…’ and ‘I imagined’ are all examples of this.

Clearly, spoken language is used alongside written language to voice views and opinions from different people and organisations.

Lexis/Register:

The lexis used within the article is more complex and polysyllabic, as the general audience of the newspaper is businessmen and older readers. Few monosyllabic words are used throughout the article such as ‘with’, ‘was’, ‘some’ and ‘there’. We see more disyllabic words coming in to the article such as ‘August’, ‘Spanish’, ‘Measures’ and ‘happen’. Quite large selections of polysyllabic words are used within the article which you would expect in a broadsheet newspaper. For example, ‘spectators’, ‘authorities’, ‘unacceptable’ and ‘demonstrate’ are all instances of this from the article. As well as being polysyllabic, they are also Latinate.

The register of the text is very formal; Standard English is used throughout to convey different views, opinions and emotions from other people. There are no examples of taboo lexis in the article, which is what you would expect from a broadsheet newspaper.

A general lexical field of motor racing is used throughout the article as it is about a famous racing driver, ‘grand’s prix’, ‘Circuit de Catalunya’ and ‘Mclaren Mercedes garage’ are all examples of these. The article does not really contain jargon lexis, although it is made apparent that through reading through the article, you are expected to have a general knowledge of motor racing to understand the story more clearly.

Abbreviations are used for within the article, for example ‘FIA’ is short for the sport’s world governing body, and ‘RFEA’ is shortened from the Spanish motor sport federation. These make the article easier to read because you do not have to keep re-reading the same name of organisation.

Semantics:

Connotations of particular words within the article are very rarely found, but there are a couple of examples. ‘Taunted’ has connotations of bully, harass and insulted, with ‘appalled’ having connotations of disappointed, upset and also angry. Figurative language such as similes, metaphors and personification, are not present in the article which you would expect in a broadsheet newspaper, as they are usually far more formal and informative. Bias occurs in a small element of the newspaper article, in the form that the reporter doesn’t explain if Lewis Hamilton did anything to the Spanish fans to provoke what they have done to him. Repetition is apparent in the way that the views different people have on the topic are similar to each other. For example, the sports minister says ‘Racism should not be tolerated…’, and similarly the RFEA say ‘…will have no tolerance with them.’ Humour isn’t evident in the article because it is from a formal, broadsheet newspaper.

Grammar and Syntax:

First person opinions are used throughout the article to convey the different moods and opinions that others have on the topic. ‘I was shocked…’, ‘I’m disappointed…’ and ‘I imagined….’ are all examples of these. Third person judgements are also made by the RFEA organisation, ‘…the federation will have no tolerance…’, which makes them seem more authoritative and as if they really do care about this problem.

Pre-modification is used throughout the article to emphasise particular nouns, for example, ‘”sickening images”‘, ‘serious concern’ and ‘strongly support’. Pre-modification isn’t used as much in broadsheet newspapers as they are trying to report on the story as honest as possible, whereas tabloid articles will always emphasise and exaggerate certain factors. Modal auxiliaries are also used throughout the newspaper article to convey different moods and attitudes to certain issues. For example, ‘”Racism should not…”‘, ‘”There should be no room…”‘ and ‘…this affair could result…’

The majority of sentences are complex and each contains many clauses, the longest sentences contain up to four separate clauses. Declarative and imperative sentences are used throughout the article to make statements and give orders. An example of a declarative sentence could be ‘The British driver was booed and racially insulted…’ clearly this sentence makes a statement about what has happened. ‘”Racism should not be tolerated…’ is a sentence that gives an order, so is imperative. Exclamatory sentences are not used as the article is based around a serious issue, and also examples of interrogative sentences can not be found.

Different types of nouns are also used throughout the article. First of all, Proper nouns are used to describe to us people who are being involved in the article, and also the location of where the incident has taken place. ‘Rio Ferdinand’, ‘Britain’, ‘Circuit de Catalunya’ and ‘Lewis Hamilton’ are all examples of proper nouns. Abstract nouns are used fewer in the article to show feelings and emotions, for example, ‘Shocked’, ‘sad’, ‘love’ and ‘truth’. The syntax is in Standard English format which is what you would expect from articles in a broadsheet newspaper

Comparison of Broadsheet and Tabloid newspaper:

The graphology of the tabloid article uses large and prominent photographs to make the story appear more eye-catching. The photograph on the broadsheet newspaper is still quite large, but not as prominent and eye-catching as The Sun’s layout. The headline of the tabloid article is also big and bold and consists of only four words; it is also quite humorous with the use of a homophone. The broadsheet article headline is not very big, and contains language that is formal, factual and informative. Finally, on the tabloid article, dense text is avoided with the story being quite short and paragraphs being brief. On the other hand, the broadsheet article contains four main blocks of text containing complex sentences and large paragraphs.

The tabloid article primarily uses simple, direct and monosyllabic lexis, and avoids using polysyllabic words. It contains many examples of journalese to dramatise issues more and is quite informal. Bias is also made more obvious in the report. The broadsheet article, on the other hand, uses complex sentences containing more polysyllabic words. It is far more formal and factual, without using any examples of journalese. Bias is within the article but is made less obvious compared to the tabloid newspaper.

As already said, the tabloid newspaper contains short simple sentences, but if there are compound sentences, they are usually broken up with hyphens or commas to make it easier to read. Pre-modification is also used densely within the article, with simple connectives also being appearing. Again, broadsheet newspapers contain longer and more complex sentences, and the punctuation is more formal and complex. Pre-modification is made use of less in this article, although it is still used in few places.

The tone of the tabloid article is quite forceful to the reader; in trying to make them believe what they are saying is completely correct. A light-hearted approach is also taken with the use of humour, such as the homophone headline. The tone in the broadsheet article, on the other hand, is more moderate and restrained, without the use of humour or puns. The story is taken more seriously compared with the light-hearted version that the tabloid presents. The broadsheet article does not directly address the reader and remains more impersonal, the tabloid article takes a more conversational tone with its audience.

Conclusion:

Through evaluating and analysing both articles from a broadsheet and tabloid newspaper, I feel as if I have successfully achieved the aims I set out for myself beforehand. My main aim what to find out how a tabloid and a broadsheet newspaper deal with the topic of racism, which I now have successfully discovered. In brief, The Sun takes a far more light-hearted tone in dealing with the topic, adopting features such as humour. The Times, on the other hand, takes the issue far more seriously and deals with it in a formal manner. I also predicted that the broadsheet article would use far more formal lexis, give more detail and contain less obvious bias, which I have proved to be correct. For the tabloid newspaper, I thought at the beginning that it would contain more simple lexis, making judgements and containing more bias, which I have also proved to be true.

Overall, I feel that after successfully completing my project, I have achieved all of my aims, and have successfully proved my predictions to be correct.

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