- Zina Christofi
Critical Evaluation Essay on Maria Miller’s resignation as the Culture Secretary
In this essay the author will analyze the story of the resignation of Maria Miller as Culture Secretary in the 9th of April 2014. The author will see in depth the different approach over this story, between online websites and printed newspapers. Also, the essay will investigate how this story has been treated in accordance to various platforms; for example, the use of multimedia, space devoted, updates, etc.
One of the most important platform to see is the space devoted to the story. Most of the times the story that is on the front page is a long and highly important story, that not only deserves to be on the front of a newspaper, but also be continued on further pages (Keeble, 2005). In the article of the Culture Secretary resignation, the Daily Telegraph has devoted half of its front page on the 9th of April 2014, on Maria Millers resignation. The story continues on half of the page two and half of page six, where a picture and several quotations have been used. The newspaper has used two different headlines, one on the front page and one on page six. The headlines are bold, big and black, attracting the eye of the reader. Furthermore, the story also covers a part on 19 with letters from readers to the editor. The title on the front page is as big as the logo of the newspaper, in order to attract the attention, but there is no picture. In contrast, the newspaper has published one picture on the next part in page six, where a big picture is covering most of the section devoted for the story, while near it there are several boxes with highlighted quotes over the incident. On the Daily Telegraph website, the story is also among the top new, since it is the first one you see. A picture is attracting the attention, while the word ‘live’ near it leads the reader to the assumption of continuous updates.
One of the most important strengths of a website story is that it is updated over the day, while a newspaper story is printed, distributed and cannot be edited later on the day. In accordance to Ward (2002:19, 23), “Online newspapers have faster access to far more information than previously, and can enchase both the research and reporting process.” The Daily Telegraph website has treated the above story with updates on every 90 seconds. They are using a timeline to present the new information they receive and update regularly the story with new facts, information, photographs, videos and also further reactions from British politicians. Their live coverage over the story started at eight o’clock in the morning and continued updating until 7 pm at the same day.
Many newspapers chose to print a wide range of correspondence from their readers and use these pages as forums of opinion, dialogue and debate (Richardson, 2007). Through this technique the newspapers allow their readers to feel a sense of importance and as a result they are the most popular features of a newspaper (Gregory and Hutchins, 2004).
The Daily Telegraph newspaper has published several articles on page nineteen (‘Letters to the Editor’ section) for Maria Miller’s story. One big letter is analyzing the story in depth, while other smaller have been published under a specific section for this story. In contrast, the newspapers website has a modern section of comments where the reader can argue and discuss about the story, and at the same time debate with other readers. Furthermore, the website also has a live link with their twitter account, in which people retweet their opinion, while the website adds the most important of them as an update under the story. Through modern technology, the website also offers a ‘Share’ bottom for Facebook users who can share the story and in sequence discuss about it with their online friends. The difference between the two stories in this platform is that the editor is choosing which letters to publish on the newspaper; to be interesting and follow the news agenda of the newspaper (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2002), while online the reader can comment his opinion and publish it immediately under the comments section; unless if it is inappropriate.
The use of sources is another important platform for news stories. For many journalists an interview is the basic ingredient for a story (Harcup, 2004), since it covers the news angle and attracts the reader’s attention (Boyd, 2001). In accordance to that, the Daily Telegraph has used several interviews for its article of Maria Miller’s resignation. They have published quotes form Miller herself, British MP’s and gave emphasis to ‘Tories’ quotes. ‘Tories’ quotes were placed near the picture of the woman in page six, and were highlighted inside an italic and bold text. Approximately they have used ten different sources. In contrast, the website of Daily Telegraph also used the same sources. However, the website interviewed more politicians during the day from all the political parties, updating the story’s details and as a result concluded to have approximately forty different sources.
The writing and use of language between a website and a published newspaper varies. The newspaper has more length and provides a deeper analysis, in a continuing article. In contrast an article in a website is straighter forward, provides only the most necessary information and gives emphasis on multimedia use, that the essay has analyze above.
According to Pape and Featherstone (2005:176), “Online journalists must keep the language simple and direct.” Online article about Maria Miller in the Daily Telegraph website followed this platform and also used active sentences, avoiding at the same time short forms, like: won’t, don’t, etc., except in the cases of direct quotes. Furthermore, the online article was consisted of short sentences following the guidance of Pape and Featherstone (2005:176) that, “Online less is more”. In addition, the online story used a standfirst (text under the headline) to emphasize new information added to the story. Furthermore, the online story used bullet-points and subheadings to break up the text. The printed article also avoided to use short forms words. However, in contrast with the online article, the newspaper used lengthy sentences to describe the event and had a big constructed article. Also, the printed article did not break up the text, but instead divided it in short paragraphs to help the reader.
In addition, an online article shall not use commas, semi-colons, since they are difficult to be identified on screen (Pape and Featherstone, 2005). The online article of Daily Telegraph avoided to use semi-cons, but used several comas, mainly because of the amount of quotes used. Instead the journalist used a dash, which stands out much better, as Pape and Featherstone (2005) believe. The printed version on the contrary, avoided to use any dashes and preferred to have plenty of commas.
Both articles, in the printed version of the Daily Telegraph and the one in the website had a narrative content that followed the sequence of the events as they occurred in the actual story (Richardson, 2007). However, the printed article used the ‘pyramid’ structure for the writing of a hard news story, which places the most important information at the head of the story (Franklin, 2005). Online news is also using the ‘pyramid’ structure, but in this case, the Daily Telegraph website has used a timeline to describe the events. They did start with the most interesting information on the story, but since they created a live blog over the report, it meant that the most basic information of the story stayed at the bottom, because updates were taking place during the day, and had to be placed on the top.
Most of the National newspapers are using pictures to emphasize the important stories, while the websites are having a far richer multimedia use. In accordance to Pavlik (2001:217),
“New media technology means content can be presented in a far richer way than possible in the traditional mediums of print and broadcast.”
The above belief leads to the creation of contextualized journalism, which uses multimedia, interactivity and customization (Reddick and King, 2001).
In its article for the resignation of Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, the Daily Telegraph newspaper has only used one big picture of Miller in page six, where it analyzed the story in more depth. In contrast, the Daily Telegraph website has a wider approach over the story, in accordance to the use of multimedia. They have published a big image on top of the story of Maria Miller, and while scrolling down they have published several different images of the Culture secretary, the Prime Ministers and other politicians who have spoken about the incident. Furthermore, they have used a collage of images from previous newspapers front pages that talk about Maria Miller and her expenses scandal. In addition, the website has used videos with interviews of politicians talking about the incident, and by late at night they created a video that described the facts of the story from the beginning, through images. Furthermore, in their website they published statistics about politician’s expenses.
As it has been stated before, online journalism is using short sentences and publishes only necessary information. In sequence, online newspapers are using more pictures and other multimedia platforms (more than the printed versions) in order to colorize the article and attract the visitor to click on the story and read about it. Pictures add information, animation and emotion to the story (Keeble, 2005). Also, pictures allow the reader to extract information easily. Another important reason on why online newspapers are using more pictures is the lack of space in a printed version of a newspaper. The Daily Telegraph has used only one picture because they had to fit all the information they had in the space provided for the story. Writing is lengthier on a newspaper and the pages are allocated in accordance to contents, while on a website there is unlimited space for images and videos.
Stories around the Culture Secretary were concerning the media for weeks, before its resign. The Daily Telegraph website links the previous stories with the one on the 9th of April 2014. In their article they presented photographs from previous headlines of the newspaper that wrote about the Culture Secretary; they link the previous writings with the one that the author analyzed in this essay, presenting that the newspaper considered previous incidents around the person. They presented six old front pages and stated that the Daily Telegraph also covered the incident of Maria Miller on previous publications. On the printed version of the article, the journalist referred to an article of the newspaper the previous day that was talking about Maria Miller’s scandal and its impact over the Tory MPs. Furthermore, the newspaper had a small section over the previous day article and refereed to it as a connection inside the main article about the resignation of the Culture Secretary. Additionally, the article was linked to previous articles about the woman, which were published by other newspapers.
In conclusion, both printing and online version of the above story have used similar platforms on their approach towards the story. However, each one of them used each platform on a different way. Both of versions have used images and devoted enough space for the story. Though, the online version used several multimedia (videos, graphics, etc.) in order to give emphasis to the story. Furthermore, both versions had an opinion section and used a specific presentation of language, but each one of them had used the above platforms on the most suitable way for a website or a newspaper. The only platform that was used just on behalf of the website approach was updating, since the online story had updates through the day, in contrast with the printing version which had updates only until the printing of the newspaper.
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