The massacre of Dunblane was a horrific tragedy in which many young innocent children were killed. The coverage from various newspapers came to an enormous amount, each one written and presented in different ways. In this essay will compare and contrast the coverage of the Dunblane tragedy by two The Sun and The Independent newspaper. They are two different types of newspaper, The Sun is a tabloid and The Independent is a broadsheet. This gives them very big differences. Broadsheets usually have many more stories on their front page than tabloids.
A tabloid headline is much bigger than a broadsheet headline and there are fewer pictures on a broadsheet newspaper than a tabloid. Broadsheets always contain more per story than tabloids and are less colourful. Broadsheets have longer more detailed headlines, whereas tabloids have short headlines. A broadsheet is much bigger than a tabloid and usually costs more. Both stories were covering the Dunblane killings. It happened on Wednesday 14th March 1996 in the small village of Dunblane in Scotland. A man broke in to an infant school and shot dead 16 pupils, all ages between 4 and 5.
After killing their teacher he proceeded to shoot himself. The independent has the headline ‘Massacre in class P1’. The editor chose to use these particular words to evoke emotions in the reader. Massacre is emotive language that helps the reader to understand just how bad the killings were, it is also using imagery to conjure very bad pictures up in the readers head. The ‘class P1’ is used instead of ‘in infant school’ or ‘at school’ because it makes the reader think more in depth to understand it. The Sun uses the headline ‘Pray for them’; this is a sad and thoughtful headline.
The word ‘pray’ is religious, or sometimes used to describe desperation, it uses imagery and emotive techniques to make the reader feel sad and create the image of desperation and prayer. ‘Pray for them’ makes the reader feel sympathetic towards the children and their parents, and makes the reader feel like the writer of this article is addressing them, because they are being told to do something. Both papers chose to use a school photo of class P1. I believe that they chose to use this picture because it shows all of the children smiling and looking happy.
It makes them look like contain warmth and innocence, which in turn makes the reader feel emotions such as anger and feel upset that this could happen to such innocent and young children. Personally I feel that this was a very good picture to use and the newspapers were justified in their decision to use this picture because it shows the children smiling and happy, instead of mourning parents or bloodstained walls. However many people believe that the newspapers exploited the children in the pictures in order to capitalize on sales.
They believe that the newspapers were out of order trying to capitalize on the horrendous deaths of such young children and that the consequences of using that picture may be devastating towards the mourning parents. Alternatively the papers could have used a picture of mourning parents, a picture of the crime scene or even pictures of the flowers that were left in remembrance of the victims. But these pictures were rejected because the mourning parents would have been extremely sad and dark and made people not want to look at it.
The crime scene picture would have been very bloody and many people would not have brought the paper. The flowers one would have been quite good because it would have evoked emotions in the reader however it lacked the sense of innocence and detail contained by the picture that was used. Both newspapers contain captions and subheadings. On The Sun it does not contain a caption for the main picture of Class P1 however it does have a caption under the picture of the murderer. It says ‘So evil… killer Tom Hamilton’.
This almost a fact, because anyone would say that he is evil however it is still an opinion because it is an emotion. The subheading ‘nation mourns as 16 children killed in their school gym’ is also a bit of an opinion because the ‘nation’ is not all mourning but it does start to make the reader feel emotional, however the part about the 16 children being killed is a fact. The independent has different sub headings and captions. They seem to lead with a more factual tone, ‘In 3 minutes 16 children and their teacher lay dead and a community lay shattered’.
The first half of this sentence is a fact, but the last part of the sentence, although it seems true, is still an opinion. The caption is very long and factual-‘Massacre of the innocent: Teacher Gwenne Mayor, who died in the carnage at Dunblane primary school, pictured with the first intake of her P1 class last September, many of whom were also killed. ‘ All of it is factual and it lacks the emotive language that is usually associated with newspapers, apart from the word ‘carnage’. Therefore I think the sun is more opinionated in its captions and headlines.
Both papers give us listings of what is contained inside, they do this because people want to read all the details and find out more. They do this because the western culture is brought up around watching soap operas and news reports that always contain bad goings on. The papers reasonably take advantage of this knowledge in order to sell more papers, however I do not think they exploit the situation. Nevertheless the western culture has the taste of reading and watching terrible things happen because it is their way of life, things like soap operas encourage this through their high popularity.
Personally when thinking about this it does seem wrong that such bad situations are being slightly exploited, and that people want to look at such despair and anguish. After the events of Dunblane an editorial by each newspaper was published. An editorial is an article or publication that is usually written by the editor and gives the personal view of that specific newspaper. Both newspapers have very different editorials. The editorial from The Sun uses a lot more presentation techniques to enhance the layout; it has bold headlines, subheadings, italics and underlining.
These help the reader to understand how the editor wants them to be read or felt. For example the italics are used to make statements that are true but make one realise just how unimaginable the event was. Whereas the Independent uses less presentation techniques, it only makes use of bold on the headline. Therefore I think that in terms of layout and presentation The Sun’s editorial is easier to read because it uses techniques that make it more accessible to how it should be read, or how the editor feels that the sentence should be felt.
However the Independents editorial is very plain, I think this is because it gets across a sad tone, and makes the reader feel the sadness because In both articles the editor’s have used lots of personal pronouns to address the reader. These include ‘us, we and you’. They are used to make the reader feel more involved in the story, as though they are being personally addressed. If the reader feels more important and involved then they are more likely to read on through the article. Both The Sun and The Independent contain many personal pronouns that address the reader, and once again make them feel involved in the article.
For example in The Sun the headline of ‘we weep for the little ones’ and ‘you could not imagine in your worst nightmare’. They would make the reader feel as if the article has been written to them and that it is written for that person specifically. This is also done in the independent-‘we assemble facts’ and ‘us to solve the same impossible puzzle’. However I believe the independent uses these personal pronouns in a different way; it utilises them to make the reader feel not just addressed, but addressed personally and it is talking about Britain as a community that the reader is part of.
The editor of the Independent also tries to make the reader feel included in the editorial opinion by proposing questions to the reader and both papers use emotive language. In my opinion the editor has used questions such as ‘Can school security be improved? ‘ and ‘How could it be? ‘ in order to make the reader feel involved in the article so that they think more in depth; thus evoking an emotional reaction in the reader such as guilt or sympathy. It also helps the reader to think of answers to these questions that will make them understand the opinion of the editorial.
The editors use emotive language to evoke emotions from within the reader such as ‘terrible loss and abiding grief’ and ‘violent slaughter’ (from the independent) and ‘slaughter of the innocent’ and ‘blameless, helpless children’ (from the Sun). These are used in order to get an emotive reaction from the reader and once again help them to understand how the editorial feels. Emotive language also helps to emphasise a point and put the shear astonishment of it across. The independent has taken a very sad and sympathetic tone. It is also very shocked and amazed, the newspaper doesn’t have any anger in the tone.
I feel they used this tone because it keeps the reader’s attention and does not infuriate anyone with anger; therefore the sad sympathetic tone is better in this situation, rather than angry ranting and raving. However the sun uses a more angry tone, with words like ‘madman Hamilton’. It has an angry tone against Hamilton throughout the article. It also has a slightly shocked tone, however this is overpowered by the anger. I feel The Sun chose to use this angry tone because it makes the nation feel the shock of this tragic event.
The angry tone may have been used because in their view Hamilton is a cruel and evil person and they want the readers to feel the same. The papers were trying to capture the mood of the people at the time, in order to sell as many copies as possible. Capturing people’s mood would help to sell newspapers, as well as evoke emotions in the reader. I do think that newspapers took the emotions of the Dunblane community in to account as they targeted how people were feeling by using interviews and mood, to sell more papers.
However in another sense they did not take the overpowering sadness of the parents and relatives in to consideration because they used photos that exploited the children’s innocence and happiness (the class P1 photo that showed them smiling and looking very happy like angels) and very emotive sentences that created a tone that would cause the parents to feel even more sad about the tragic deaths, and quite possibly outraged with the newspapers. Before the Dunblane tragedy gun laws in the UK were fairly laid back and were not strict enough in many peoples opinions.
However lots of newspaper coverage changed the nations view on gun laws and was helped along campaigns by political parties led to the gun laws being made a lot stricter after the Dunblane tragedy took place. From doing research on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that, although one may think that making gun laws stricter would reduce crime rates, it has increased gun crime rates dramatically and made the underground smuggling of weapons in to the UK increase.
In my opinion I think that The Independent covered the events at Dunblane most effectively because it contains a lot more of a detailed article and does not make gossipy judgements as easily as The Sun does. The Independent does use a lot of emotive language, however it is a lot more factual than The Sun. The only thing that I think lets down The Independent is the presentation of the editorial.
It has a very bland layout that does not use any presentation techniques in order to enhance the layout and make it easier to read; as The Sun does in its editorial. I also think the tone used by The Independent is a lot better than the tone in The Sun because it uses a less angry tone, thus not infuriating any of the readers. If I were the editor of my own newspaper I would have done many things differently. The photo used by both newspapers is good in some ways, as it evokes emotions in the reader because of the children’s innocence and happiness.
However many people were outraged at the use of this particular picture on the front page and felt that it exploited the children in order to boost sales. Therefore I would use a different picture, probably a photo of the school with flowers left by it, as this would evoke a sad and sympathetic response by the reader but not cause them to be angry. In the editorial of The Independent I would have included more of a point of view of how I felt about what happened, and used more presentation techniques, such as headings and bold font etc.
I would also not have n angry tone like The Sun did, as I think a sad tone would be better. Now that the Dunblane tragedy was so long ago, there is rarely any newspaper coverage of it. However at the time newspaper coverage made a big impact; it could change peoples views, change their moods by using tone and get laws to be changed. This shows that the media is a very powerful aspect of life, and in many ways has the power to control and distort.