ANALYZING MEDIA: Online Newspapers
A breaking crime story, new information about a controversial issue, or the latest from the presidential campaign trail ... You can expect to read about events and issues such as these in many national newspapers. Chances are, though, two national newspapers covering the same story are not going to give identical reports.
Consider a story about a plane crash. Two journalists covering this crash may choose to report different angles of the story. For example, one journalist may focus on the victims of the crash. Another may choose to report on the mechanical problem that caused the crash.
The two reports about the plane crash may also differ in length. Space constraints may prohibit one journalist from including background information in his report, while another journalist may be able to provide more in-depth analysis in her story. In addition, different sources may be interviewed or cited for each story.
Consult multiple sources.
This is why you should always get your news from different sources to find out about the latest stories. If you follow the coverage of a major story in several news sources, you'll probably learn more about the story. And you'll be able to draw conclusions about which sources are presenting the most informative and reliable news.
Pick an event or issue that's received a great deal of attention in the news lately, and examine the coverage of your topic in two different online national papersThe Washington Post and USA Today. Click on the links below to access these online newspapers. Use the Questions to Consider below to help you write a comparative analysis of the news coverage in these two sources.
As you write your analysis, remember that online newspapers-unlike their print counterparts-can provide links from a main story to other articles and media elements that relate to the story. Other articles may tell you about a different aspect of the story. Media elements, such as video and audio clips, may allow you to hear sources' opinions and see important footage. Such links in online newspapers may add up to more thorough, in-depth coverage.
Questions to Consider:
- How much coverage of your topic is included on each site? Is a story about your topic featured on the main page?
- Which angle(s) did the reporter choose to focus on?
- Is the coverage thorough? Are the basic news questionsthe who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story answered? Are in-depth analysis and background information provided? If so, how much?
- What sources are quoted or cited?
- Do you have the option of linking to media elements that relate to the main coverage? Describe these media elements. Do they provide additional information about the story?
- Which news source does a better job of covering your topic? In your analysis, you may wish to explain the pros and cons for each online paper.
An angle refers to the specific aspect of a news story that a journalist chooses to focus on.
Visual and audio components included in a news report to supplement the main text of the story.
The people interviewed or the documentation (published reports) cited in a news report.