TV news & Newspapers

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The aim of this media coursework is to analyse the different methods of reporting important international news. The two methods I will be analysing are TV and newspaper (broadsheet and tabloid).

I will start by analysing the Channel 4 news coverage.

On the 11th of September 2001, two passenger airliners flew into the world trade centres in New York.

An American Boeing 767 passenger crashed into the north tower of the world trade centre, 18 minutes later another Boeing 767 appeared on the skyline and subsequently flew into the southern tower.

It was not long after the first plane crash that rescuers, paramedics and fire fighters arrived on the scene ready to aid the many thousands of people who were trapped in the blazing inferno.

People were jumping out of windows, to certain deaths, in a last ditch attempt to save themselves from the flames which had rapidly engulfed a large portion of the building.

An hour later the collapse of the two towers, was the ‘coupe de grace’ to New York burying the rescuers on the ground under a torrent of debris.

As the towers collapsed the crowds, which had gathered to watch the proceedings, fled to escape the death like cloud of smoke and dust, which was rapidly engulfing the city.

As survivors and eyewitnesses emerge from the dust like ghosts out of the mist, news reporters jump in there faces wanting to know what happened, if they were in the building and what they thought of the attack. These people are distressed and in a state of panic, an interview from them adds to the drama of the scene.

It is harder to broadcast live at the time of a disaster than it is to broadcast the news after the incident has occurred. This is because there is no assurance that there will be new information to report on. Even so Channel 4 broadcasted live at the time of the attack for a short period, opting to broadcast the main brunt of their news report on the attack at their normal broadcasting time, 7:00 pm. Broadcasting the main part of their report on the attack provided channel 4, 5 hours to produce reports and organise interviews with experts.

Channel 4 uses senior presenter John Snow as the front man linking a series of interviews with experts and different correspondents in New York and Washington D.C. Snow is juxtaposed with an image of the Trade Centres and acts as narrator providing a narrative. The video footage is shocking and distressing, it shows the type of action you would see in a Hollywood blockbuster, such as Die Hard or deep Impact.

Most of the video footage used has been bought from US news channels like CNN, NBC, or Fox News.

During the broadcast slides bearing facts and information to answer our questions, along with shocking and distressing yet captivating video footage is shown.

Footage from other countries is shown. In a video clip from Palestine a crowd of women and children are seen jumping around in a state of excitement waving the Palestinian flag in the air. It is not clear what is going on in the scene but the reporter commenting on the scene informs the viewer that the people are rejoicing because of the attack on America. The reporter is now speculating and presuming that the Palestinian crowd were celebrating because of the attack on the World Trade centre in America, while really the people may be receiving free food or other items.

In some news reports bought from American TV stations, New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani is shown with Alan Reiss, Trade Centre director who gives an estimated number of possibly casualties ( 50 000, on an average day there are 50 000 office workers and visitors in the trade centre.

During the Broadcast presidents and dignitaries from different countries broadcast speeches condemning the terrorists, which committed the attacks on America.

“Their barbarism will stand as their shame for all eternity”

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

US president George Bush is shown making speeches with fellow American’s of all ages and races behind him, this symbolises America’s power and that the terrorists aren’t able to break America’s unity. This action is called ‘doughnuting’.

The President’s first speeches start of with the use of war like rhetoric and superlatives. The threats are not aimed at on specific terrorist group or organisation, as no one has admitted responsibility and not with drawn their statement, a Palestinian group admitted responsibility for the attack but later quickly with drew from the statement.

He uses words like ‘hunt’ and ‘punish’.

“The US will hunt down and punish those responsible for these attacks”

His speeches become more meaningful and structured using words such as, ‘unity’ and ‘freedom’.

Every opportunity is taken to repeat the video footage and to reinforce the sheer affect of the attack. The anchorman John Snow says “If you have just joined us” this gives them a reason to repeat the video footage, buying time for the news crew to prepare the next story, news report or interview.

Footage from the attack on the Pentagon in Washington D.C is also shown, this footage is dramatised like the New York attack was. Very little video footage of the Pentagon is shown as all there is to see is the aftermath, there is no video footage of the attack, and therefore it isn’t as striking and compelling to watch as the attack on the Trade Centres. This is also the case with the Pittsburgh plane crash, there wasn’t anything exciting and griping to watch, there was only the aftermath and cleanup. The video footage of the Pentagon and Pittsburgh is only shown towards the end of the video repetition cycle.

During the Broadcast the usual advertisements, which normally grace our screens every ? 15 minutes are done away with. It is evident that the use of autocue is used as channel 4 has had 5 hours to prepare the reports and therefore can take advantage of the equipment.

During the broadcast John Snow interviews a number of experts and we listen to two New York Correspondents.

The expert’s role is to provide information, which isn’t common knowledge, his or her expertise. The dictionary definition of ‘expert’ is: ‘One, who is skilled in any art or science, a specialist, a scientific or professional witness’

In cases such as this it is difficult for the ‘expert’ to fulfil his or her role, this is due to the fact that the experts know just as much as the people watching the news coverage do and there isn’t any new information in circulation, they can merely respond to the visual and verbal coverage and try to create the effect of meaningful debate. The experts can only share their expertise on a subject and tell the viewers as much as they know. A consensus opinion is often formulated due to the lack of hard evidence. The experts hold credentials such as; Professor, Ex-advisor, Former Secretary of State, these give the experts an air of importance and credibility.

The process of interviewing people, on the surface, gives credibility to the coverage, but often merely fills in time. Channel 4 interviews people from a number of backgrounds, military, academic and political.

James Rubin Former Secretary of State

Rubin was interviewed on a London street,

He didn’t ‘shed any light’ on the incident, but instead tried to change the subject. He tried to ‘talk the interview through’, and reduce the amount of questions John snow could ask him. I don’t think James Rubin was worth getting into a studio. Rubin gave the political side of the attack.

General Sir Michael Rose

Sir Michael was interviewed in a studio; he gives us the militaries side of the attack. He co-ordinated attacks in Bosnia and other civilian situations where military assistance has been required. John snow raises the question of retaliation, Sir Michael gives a number o options, bombing being one of them. Sir Michael is more informative than James Rubin, giving interesting and useful information about what might happen next, what the next step forward would be.

Professor Paul Rogers (Bradford University, Counter Terrorism expert)

Professor Rogers gives us his expert opinion on the attack from a studio. The professor gives us the academic point of view, as he is an expert on counter terrorism at Bradford University. I feel he tried to answer on of the more important questions; who committed this atrocity on America?

Defence Secretary of State General Colin Powell gave a statement at a press conference, whilst in a meeting about world safety, he had time to consider what to say and talk about specific points.

The rest of the Channel 4 broadcast, continues in a cycle,

Video footage ?==> interviews ==> report by John Snow

This cycle is repeated like the video footage is to refresh the facts of the incident and to once again inform any one who had just started watching the news broadcast.

Unlike TV news, newspapers can only report news the next day, and is not up to the minute, breaking news.

Of the two mediums newspaper coverage can be in greater depth and can show evidence of in depth consideration.

After an incident of this magnitude it is often the case that the two different types of newspaper, Tabloid and Broadsheet, appear to sing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. This is due to the lack of diversity in information available to the newspapers, the same information that is available to the TV news companies. Speculation plays a large role in the journalistic industry, especially when there is a lack of information available to the writer.

The newspapers had 11 hours to prepare the stories and articles of the day’s events.

The tabloid newspapers usually focus on and make news of paltry and trivial matters often associated with the rich and famous.

These stories rarely make it onto the pages of a broadsheet newspaper such as ‘The Times’.

The Daily Star was just one of the many tabloid newspapers whose front page was dominated by a powerful image of the World Trade Centres in New York, engulfed in flames, along with the image there is a war rhetoric such as; “The day America realised it was at war with terrorists”.

The Daily star’s stories and articles about the atrocity where very similar to the reports in the Broadsheet newspapers. Both Tabloid and Broadsheet newspapers agree on the usage of visual materials, such as photographs. The most common photos used are the most powerful image, those being of the world Trade centres on fire, and collapsing.

In both newspapers graphic images are used, these graphics are ostensive, and speak for themselves; there aren’t any words to describe what happened on the 11th September 2001.

The Tabloids, try to sensationalise the story, they only offer the facts. Whilst Broadsheet newspapers provide background information, such as previous attacks on the Trade Centre, they also provide information on terrorist groups that may have committed the atrocious act on US as well as the facts.

The facts used where the same in both newspapers, they were set out in a different format, the number of casualties involved in the incident was an estimated number, 50 000. This estimate was the same in both newspapers.

The reporter for ‘The Times’, who covered the story, was James Bone. He is a feature writer and covers most of the events in New York. You can tell that he isn’t a front-page writer because his story is to ‘flowery’ and descriptive, he has written the story in a novelistic way.

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