To compare the way three news publications, The Times, The Mirror and Newsweek, an American weekly news magazine, reported the same incident. The Times is an English daily “broadsheet” newspaper, known for its accurate, in-depth and impartial reporting of news, both in the UK and throughout the world. Whilst it would be very difficult for the paper not to show any bias in any of its reporting, it tries to present the reader with the facts, and let him or her come to their own opinion. The Mirror is an English daily “tabloid” newspaper.
It is more concerned with domestic news, or international news that has a direct effect on the UK. Because of this, it tends to report news from a British point of view, often using nationalistic or patriotic language. Its articles are not usually as in-depth as the Times, and contain shorter sentences, with more basic, emotional language. Newsweek is a weekly American news magazine. Because of this its reports are mostly about events that happened at least a few days ago. Whilst the language used in this article would suggest that its target audience is quite well educated, it looks at world events through American eyes.
Each newspaper reports the basic facts of the incident, although the differences in style can be seen straight away from the headlines: Times “20 die in cable car after jet cuts wire” Mirror “20 skiers killed as jet slices cable car wire” Both reports give an immediate, accurate impression of what happened Newsweek “Blood on the Snow” We can’t tell from this what happened (although we are more likely in real life to know, as it written 12 days after the event) The Times tries to look at the incident from several different points of view.
It quotes from an eyewitness, an official in charge of cable car operation, The Pentagon, a rescue worker, a local resident, and the Italian Deputy Defence Minister. These quotes are however, mainly used to confirm information that has already been offered to the reader, rather than being used as the only account of the event. It gives some background information as to the activities of the US air force in the area, and the feelings of local residents who had been complaining for a long time about low flying in the area.
The whole report is presented in as factual a way as possible, trying to avoid blaming any particular party. The Mirror report contains much of the same factual information, but it relies more on first hand accounts from eyewitnesses to describe the accident, and particularly the scene afterwards. It quotes a British couple who narrowly missed being involved in the accident, the local police chief and a fire services spokesman, the US Defence Secretary, the Regional President, and a local hotel owner.
It gives the nationalities of the dead people, as well as their sex, again this is trying to make the accident more personal for the reader. Each British paper contains information that the other does not, but this not crucial in creating the overall impression of what happened. For example, The Times reports that the accident would have been much worse had it happened in the morning, as the car would have been packed with skiers. The Mirror talks about the “huge metal hook weighing several tons”, which smashed down through the roof of the car.
Newsweek devotes very little of its article to the reporting of the accident itself. There may be two reasons for this. Firstly, it was printed 12 days after the accident, and the facts are much more likely to have been reported elsewhere already. Secondly, it is an American publication, and it does not want to give an in-depth account of an incident for which the blame is being laid at the door of America. It concentrates on more background information about the US operations in Italy. It quotes local villagers as having seen both US and Italian planes flying dangerously low in the area.
It is the only report to contain a sentence such as “The known facts didn’t immediately add up to a crime”, taking the viewpoint of “innocent until proven guilty”, whereas it knows that the vast majority of reports in European countries will look at the incident from the totally opposite point of view. The language used to describe the accident demonstrates on many occasions that each newspaper has its own defined target audience. The main contrasts in use of language are between the two British papers, which both focus heavily on the accident itself, rather than Newsweek, which has a different purpose altogether.