There is a large range of daily newspapers available across the country, aimed at a variety of different audiences. Roughly, these papers can be divided into two general categories – broadsheets and tabloids. Broadsheet describes the large pages of newspapers such as ‘The Times’ or ‘Independent’. On the other-hand, the tabloid is the ‘small, condensed, sensational newspaper’, such as ‘The Sun’. The newspapers, and the broadsheets in particular, can also be divided into different political camps.
For example, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ is largely conservative, and has been nicknamed as ‘The Daily Tory-graph’. Broadsheets are considered to be the more reliable of the two, presenting the facts as they are and the information unbiased. The tabloids, however, give brief, opinionated news stories that are printed alongside celebrity gossip. As a result, the tabloids have a lower reading age than the broadsheets. The three newspapers from which these articles are taken are ‘The Star, ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Daily Mail’. ‘The Guardian’ is a liberal broadsheet, aimed at younger, executive people.
‘The Star’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ are both tabloids; however, ‘The Daily Mail’ has tendencies towards the spheres of the broadsheets, with more complex articles and stories, and has a slightly rightwing political stand. ‘The Star’ is a typical kiss ‘n’ tell tabloid. This provides a good range of newspapers and articles. The three articles that make up Fighting Talk are all about a boxing match for the world title between Frank Bruno, a Britain, and Tim Witherspoon, from America. It is interesting that the differences between each article begin with the headline.
The different headlines for these articles also reflect the different styles of papers that they are each from. Both the tabloid newspapers use alliterative headlines: ‘The Star’ has the simple BRAVE BRUNO FALLS, with the name Bruno being emphasised with the use of another B word, brave. The headline for ‘The Daily Mail’ is the slightly more sophisticated FANS HAIL BRUNO AS TITLE BID FAILS. Here the Hail and Fails have the same sounds, and Bid also begins with the Bruno B, to emphasise his name. Fans and Fails also begin with the same letter.
In ‘The Guardian’, the headline for their story about the match is BRUNO LEFT IN A WASTELAND. There is no alliteration here, but in its place is a metaphor, describing the boxer’s failure as an unwanted place – which indeed is what it is for Bruno. It is also interesting to note, that none of these headlines mention the boxer who won, Tim Witherspoon, and this is because the British press are more interested in their own fighter rather than a foreign winner. Indeed, as will be seen later on, some of the articles make very little reference to Witherspoon at all.
As all the articles are by the British press, their key focus throughout is Bruno. However, whereas two of the articles do cover the fight in some detail, the third, ‘The Star’, concentrates almost entirely on Bruno the man. It is written as if the journalist was present in the dressing room after the match. However, this conflicts entirely with ‘The Guardian’, which says that Bruno was ‘locked in his dressing room away from the media’. ‘The Daily Mail’ is the most detailed in its coverage of the actual fight. It gives a blow-by-blow account from the early rounds until the very end. It accounts for almost every punch:
Knowing the fight was slipping away from him he shook Witherspoon with his good punches and dropped his guard to put extra weight into another right. A split second after it landed Witherspoon connected with a countering right. … Witherspoon landed two more rights. There was a left hook then four more rights … ‘The Daily Mail’ also mentions Witherspoon (though not by name) relatively early on in the article, and also gives the names of the referee (Isidro Rodriguez) and Bruno’s manager, Terry Lawless. Rodriguez is only mentioned briefly, but it is the only article in which he is mentioned.
‘The Star’ mentions Witherspoon only once, and that is not even in the context of the fight, but uses him and his dressing room as a comparison with the bleakness of Bruno’s defeat. The article BRUNO LEFT IN A WASTELAND also gives a description of the fight (which is missing in BRAVE BRUNO FALLS), however it is not in as great a detail as FANS HAIL BRUNO AS TITLE BID FAILS, but it does give some advice to the boxer. This can be typical in sports coverage, as it allows the journalist to show his or her own insight and personal knowledge on the subject.
It is unlikely that Bruno will want to read the article, and by then the advice will be useless, as the fight is, by now, long over. Each article devotes some column-inches to the fans, and one of the easiest points of comparison here is the number of fans that each journalist maintains were watching and were interested in the fight. ‘The Star’ dramatically writes that it was ‘a nation’s longing to see a Briton crowned king’; here it is implied that everyone is interested in the fight, because of the great weight of importance and majesty that it carries with it.
‘The Guardian’ narrows the crowd down to ‘thousands’, which is considerably smaller than a nation, but it is the ‘The Daily Mail’ which gives the most exact figure – putting the crowd at 42,000. This is unusual as you would expect the broadsheet to be the most accurate. However, when it comes to quickly giving the details of the fight, the broadsheet does do it best. In one paragraph (the second in the article) ‘The Guardian’ informs the reader of who Bruno’s opponent was, which association was organising the fight, where it was and when.
It answers all the important, factual questions very quickly, and also using longer, complex sentences – the obvious markings of a broadsheet. The opening paragraph, indeed, is a metaphor (relating to the headline BRUNO LEFT IN A WASTELAND), and the opening line is a simile ‘Frank Bruno was like an intrepid explorer trekking the icy waste’. The reporter continues in this vein, describing losing the fight as slipping ‘into a crevasse’. The media compares him to an ‘intrepid explorer’ because an explorer pursues victory for the sake of glory for his country; in a similar way Bruno’s bid for the title ‘raised the hopes of thousands’.
In a different way, ‘The Star’ also compares Bruno to something else. Although the evidence is unreliable, the writer of BRAVE BRUNO FALLS maintains that the theme from The Greatest Story Ever Told was being played in Bruno’s dressing room after his defeat. This would imply to a reader of ‘The Star’ that Bruno was as great as Muhammad Ali, but also that all great heroes will peak, and then fall from grace at the end of their life. It seems, to Bruno, that this is the end of his life as a boxer.
All three of these articles adopt a similar attitude to Bruno – they are proud of him, and do not think of him as a failure. ‘The Star’ hero-worships the boxer, indeed, it seems that the whole article is devoted to appraisal for the loser. The journalist here begins by comparing Bruno to Muhammad Ali, and then moves on to prove that Bruno is upset, not for himself, but for the fans (‘a nation’) ‘I’m just disappointed for all those fans. I feel I have let them down’, he is quoted as having said.
This shows no sign of personal pride smashed, but a public-spirited regret to others. Indeed, ‘The Daily Mail’ picks up on this, the article beginning ‘The only thing Frank Bruno lost at Wembley in the early hours of yesterday was a fight’. This implies two things, firstly that everyone is still as enamoured with Bruno as they were before the match, and second that it is not that important a match – it is referred to as just ‘a fight’, nothing special. Both these papers are trying to prove that Bruno is keeping his dignity.
Although ‘The Guardian’ is equally keen to show Bruno in a good light, it does not shy away from also citing how good the winner, Witherspoon, was. Round by round the rigidity of Bruno’s boxing contrasted with the swinging street-corner style of the man from Philadelphia. The reporter even goes as far as saying that Bruno ‘proved to be no more than drawing board material. ‘The Daily Mail’ also picks up on this, saying that it was ‘a classic clash of Street Fighter and Gym Fighter’: both journalists agree that the opponents were unfairly matched, and although Bruno was good, he was not yet quite ready.
This is in complete contrast to ‘The Star’, which instead of giving broadsheet facts, states in tabloid fiction: But don’t feel guilty, Frank, we told him. There’s no shame in giving a performance full of strength and courage that at least showed the world one Briton with the heart of a lion. Not only is that event entirely made up, but moreover it implies that Bruno had a good chance of winning, which both the other, more respected papers, think was fated to be a loss for Bruno.
The language in the three articles is different due to the nature of the different papers which they are published in. ‘The Star’, being a tabloid, uses shorter words and sentences. Most of the paragraphs are just one sentence long Frank Bruno’s dream of conquering the world had ended some two hours earlier. This is an example of one of the shorter paragraphs in the article. In the tabloids, editors encourage their reporters to use simpler words to make the article easier to read. They also encourage sub-headings throughout the article. Both the tabloids here use sub-headings.
‘The Star’ has Disappointed before it describes (briefly) the events of the fight and Bruno’s words afterwards. Disappointed refers to Bruno’s words later on, ‘I’m just disappointed for all those fans’. ‘The Daily Mail’ uses the sub-heading Mindless. This comes just a paragraph away from the end of the article, after the description of the events of the fight, and Mindless is used to imply that, for Bruno, it was mindless to go on fighting. Indeed, after the subheading, the end of the fight is described, ‘the towel [was] thrown by Terry Lawless’.
‘The Guardian’ does not use sub-headings, and the article BRUNO LEFT IN A WASTELAND is certainly the most articulate. It begins with a swooping, opening metaphor (not apparent in either of the other two articles) and uses longer sentences. For example The way in which Tim Witherspoon, the World Boxing Association champion, had suddenly turned their heavyweight fight at Wembley Stadium in the early hours of yesterday – reducing Bruno to a crumpled heap, his face distorted and swollen – had magnified all the doubts about the British hope’s fighting skills.
This is all one sentence (the one, mentioned previously, in which all the information is given), and is longer than two paragraphs from the article in ‘The Star’ put together. It is also interesting to see how each article seems to use very similar words to describe the defeated boxer. Here he is described as a ‘crumpled heap’, which is a typical phrase when it comes to describing the victim of an attack. ‘The Daily Mail’ describes Bruno as ‘slumping as he took the last two’, and in the almost twee article in ‘The Star’, ‘Terry Lawless, sat sadly alongside his beaten fighter, …
the big man sprawled next to him’. The language here gives the impression of a mighty hero having fallen – which is exactly the tone that the three different reporters are trying to create. Personally, I do not like these articles, however I do think that BRAVE BRUNO FALLS is very funny, because it seems so implausibly false. ‘The Guardian’ reveals that there were no press present in Bruno’s dressing room, but the writer for ‘The Star’ makes out that he was present, comforting Frank Bruno, whilst listening to melancholy music and offering advice.
As a piece of sports commentary, BRUNO LEFT IN A WASTELAND is very well structured, providing perfectly the right balance of straight facts and description of the men and their conflict. Beginning with a metaphoric simile also sets the article apart from the others, which are more straightforward. It also includes a rather more reliable quote from Witherspoon, which suggests that this reporter had good access backstage. FANS HAIL BRUNO AS TITLE BID FAILS, the third and final article, is a combined mixture of the previous two.
It does not contain all the traits of the tabloid, but neither is it highbrow enough to be a broadsheet article. The reporter is clearly a very knowledgeable person when it comes to boxing, but it does mean that the writing becomes a little stilted and dull to read. The description of the fight, though detailed, does have the feeling of reading a shopping list. Collectively, these articles provide good contrast with one another, and an interesting insight into the different styles of newspapers and articles. Nevertheless, they were not the most thrilling read of all time.