On the Thirty-first of January 2000, Dr. Harold Shipman was convicted for murdering fifteen of his patients. The following day this story flooded the front pages of both The Sun and The Express. I intend to discuss both of the front pages, looking closely at their reactions and portrayal of the case. I will also look at the perspectives of both papers and journalistic and marketing devices used to entice the reader into buying the paper. I will first examine The Sun and then move on to The Express. The Sun’s main headline reads “HE KILLED 141.
” The headline is written in very large sized writing and is in capital letters. It is written in a thick, bold font and the headline covers a reasonably large section of the page so it can be seen from a distance. The “HE KILLED” is written white and is very striking. The “141” is written in bright red on a black background and so stands out. Red is effective as it usually associated with blood, it is fiery and fearsome and makes the reader realize just how ghastly this is. The red just adds to the stunning ness of the accusation and because of this the reader is made curious and invited to pick the paper up.
This is not just because the red makes the title stand out but also because of the seriousness of this allegation. At the top right hand corner of the page there is a brief heading. Similarly to the main title this is used in good effect. It says “SHIPMAN SENSATION” and then below this “Britain’s Biggest Mass Murderer” These lines contain a great deal of alliteration, this puts more emphasis on the title and gives it a deeper meaning. It is suggesting that Shipman killed his patients in a very horrible way, again it makes Shipman sound even more evil by saying “Britain biggest” as if he has made some kind of record.
The “Shipman Sensation” is a little out of context; a more appropriate choice of word could be scandal. By saying “sensation” the newspaper is saying that Shipman is proud of what he has done or perhaps that is The Sun’s motive. At the bottom of the page written in very small print there is one of The Sun’s many devices to persuade the reader to buy the paper. It says “Full Coverage: Pages 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 plus 8-page pullout” It could have just said pages 2-9 but by mentioning all the pages separately it sound like there is more information on the story.
This is a clever technique deployed by The Sun. By writing “plus an 8-page pullout” The Sun is making an even more bigger issue of it as if it were a significant point in History. A pullout is something you keep to remind you of a big occasion of great importance, The Sun is making the reader feel that Shipman has done something so vile it should be memorable. The pullout also gives the reader even more reason to buy the newspaper, to obtain this pullout. This small part of the newspaper supports the outrageous claim made by the headline.
Both papers merge both fact and opinion but The Sun manages to hide the fact very well and show the opinion so that people believe this scandal to be a lot more frightening than it really is. The Sun’s headline says “HE KILLED 141. ” This is an exaggeration and is not a fact. The use of the number 141 is very effective as it is a large number, furthermore 141 sounds like a randomly chosen number and so is more believable as a fact. The 141 also looks symmetrical on the page and therefore attracts the readers eye and is a very good choice of number.
If you look more closely just beneath the photograph it says “…. the last thing up to 141 patients saw before he killed them with lethal injection. He was convicted for 15 murders yesterday” this is written in minute print so the reader does not see it. Putting this in small print is a good technique used by The Sun because the reader is only likely to spot it after he or she has bought it. When reading the small print one can see that the 141 was just an opinion made to look like a fact. “He was convicted of 15 murders yesterday” this fact verifies that the number 141 was just an opinion.
” The evil eyes of Dr. Harold Shipman… the last thing up to 141 patients saw before he killed them.. ” This is again an opinion, nobody was present to check what the patients saw before being killed, it is another effective tactic used by The Sun to make the story more interesting and dramatised. The part at the bottom that describes the full coverage of the story could be a fact, to prove this you simply have to look inside and read pages 2-9 and see if there is a pullout. At the top of the page it reads “Britain’s Biggest Mass Murderer. ” This audacious statement cannot be verified as a fact.
The Sun disguises its use of opinion as a fact in order to present a terrifying portrait of Shipman as a calculating mass murderer. The Sun uses a great deal of emotive language all to good effect as the reader ends up seeing Harold Shipman as some kind of monstrous murderer. At the top of the page is a heading that reads “SHIPMAN SENSATION” this is followed by “Britain’s Biggest Mass Murderer” This heading is very prominent and effective, it uses alliteration that accentuates the sentence. The alliteration makes the heading sound haunting and the reader is unlikely to forget it, this will encourage the reader to buy it.
The use of the words Shipman sensation make it sound like the murders were an achievement to Dr. Shipman and something remarkable, this creates a sense disgust and hatred for Shipman. Below the photo in small print it says ” The evil eyes of Dr. Harold Shipman” This description of Shipman’s eyes as evil makes it sound like Shipman is a horrible, vile murderer that gets pleasure in killing people. The use of Dr. is also put to good effect. A doctor is a kind, helpful being that one would trust, this would make readers feel unsure and more suspicious. By doing this The Sun is only elevating the seriousness of the situation.
The Sun includes two photographs of Harold Shipman. There is one small photo at the top of the page and one large photo in between the main headline. The large photograph works very successfully. It is right in the centre of the page and is well-defined and cannot be missed. The picture focuses on Shipman’s eyes. This is very effective and makes Shipman appear evil. His eyes look directly at the readers in a devilish way. This makes him look evil and intimidating and it makes the reader feel threatened. The way he looks directly at the reader might make the reader think that he or she is next on Dr.
Shipman’s list. This brings about unease and insecurity in the reader. The photo is meant to arouse a feeling of enmity and detestation towards Dr. Shipman. The photo works very well with the small print beneath it, the evil eyes were the last thing that the patients saw before he killed them. When reading this after seeing the photo the reader is even more intimidated and feels more hatred for Shipman. The photograph itself works well. He is wearing glasses that makes him look as if he is hiding something and his eyes are half closed, this makes him look more frightening.
The smaller photo at the top of the page is next to the headline “Britain’s Biggest Mass Murderer” This headline is plain and ordinary, it not supposed to create any feeling of hatred for Dr. Shipman it is a simple photograph of the face of Harold Shipman. It looks very similar to the type of photo that one would have on a passport. It is very small and shows Shipman as a normal if anything innocent person. Perhaps The Sun is using the opposite approach and saying that he is still a human being and should be given a chance. The layout of the page is simple, yet it is effective in holding the readers attention.
If looked at in a landscape view it can be seen that The Sun’s front page is laid out in thirds. The first third contains the “HE KILLED” the second third contains the photograph that focuses on Shipman’s eyes and the final third contains the 141 in red colour. Around this layout is a black border. Having the photograph in between the headline is effective, because Shipman appears as though he is trapped and is angry with the reader because of this. The Sun’s front page has very little amount of writing on it and limits the amount of the story being told to the reader.
It tells you that he killed 141 but does not go into that much further, because the reader is kept in suspense he or she wants to find out more and buy the paper. The variation in size of the words is used to brilliant effect, The Sun gets across exactly what it wants to the reader, by putting the facts in small print and the opinions in large. The use of photography is also very effective, The Sun portrays Shipman as evil and it makes the situation sound a lot more dramatic. The Express on the other hand takes a slightly different viewpoint from The Sun.
It uses a different technique and is more open-minded in it’s approach. The Express contains a lot more writing than The Sun but still leaves the reader wanting to know more, it does this through its main title which says “SHIPMAN: DID HE MURDER 1,500? ” It is written in a normal serif font, the writing is narrowly spaced out and not as thick as the writing used in The Sun’s headline. As with The Sun the headline is in capitals, this is primarily because of the importance of the words. Instead of accusing Shipman the headline of The Express asks a question.
This is a clever way to allure the reader in as the question automatically suggests that the answer is inside the paper. The number 1500 is even more extreme and outrageous. It, unlike the 141 from The Sun is most probably rounded up and used just to make the headline seem more horrifying and makes the reader want to find out if this is actually true. The title is more dull than The Sun’s headline and is written across two thirds of the page. Just above this headline there are a couple of sentences of writing in small thick white capitals in a black background.
It is mainly factual and generally sums up the case more honestly and openly. It says “Britain’s Biggest serial killer is jailed for 15 murders and now faces another 23 charges. But a coroner fears this family doctor may have killed many hundreds more. ” This is generally factual information with a little bit of opinion, it is successful due to its reliability and uses effective wording. Again there is a good use of alliteration in the first two words “Britain’s Biggest” This helps the sentence to flow and is a clever way to gain the readers attention. Also the use of the Coroner is effective and creditable.
A Coroner is someone who can be trusted and is reliable, he or she also has a good understanding of the case and is likely to look at it open-mindedly and in the most virtuous way possible. Therefore the general public are like to believe that Dr. Shipman may have killed many more. The headline that is contained in The Express is neither fact nor opinion, it is asking a question. This does engage the reader and makes him or her want to go in and read more to see if it true. The title also does create the idea that Shipman murdered 1500 to be a fact or at least a possibility.
Also the use of such a large number makes even more of a mystery and the reader is drawn in as to whether its true or not. The heading at the top of the page involves both fact and opinion. The first part “Britain’s Biggest Serial Killer” this is not a fact, it is an opinion because it cannot be proven. The next few words are factual and are about the only pieces of factual information written by The Express. “………. is jailed for 15 murders and now faces another 23 charges” this is all factual information because it has happened and is still happening.
The general public are already aware of this information, it has most likely featured on the news on the previous night. “But a coroner fears this family doctor may have killed many more. ” This is the opinion of the coroner. It maybe a fact that there is coroner who fears that Dr. Shipman may have killed many hundreds more but the sentence remains an opinion. More information such as the name of the coroner has not been specified, so the sentence is less reliable and was probably made up by The Express in order to sell more copies because the statement supports the rather extreme suggestion made in the main headline.