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Media Coursework assignment: Comparing news reports – ‘Disaster in the Alps’

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Introduction

Joseph Ralphs Media Coursework assignment: Comparing news reports - `Disaster in the Alps' On the 3^rd February 1998 20 people fell 300 feet to their deaths after an American Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler jet cut through the wire that supported their cable car which was taking the skiers up mount Cermis in Cavalese, northern Italy. Cavalese, a popular skiing resort is situated near Trento and about 60 miles from the U.S base at Aviano. It was from this base that the aircraft was on a combat training mission for Bosnia when the accident occurred. I have collected Information from three articles all on this incident. They are: the 4^th February 1998's editions of The Times; a broadsheet newspaper, The Mirror; a tabloid paper and the 16^th February's edition of Newsweek, an American news publication. While all three articles are reporting on the same event, agreeing on facts such as place, date and numbers of dead etc. they all report in very different ways. The Times, a broadsheet newspaper reports in a way that is very typical to that type of publication. It uses calm, matter of fact language which convey to the reader that this is an article with all the information. Unlike the Mirror, whose quotes come more from British eye-witnesses The Times focuses on comments from Italian and U.S. government officials as well. The Mirror's style of reporting is very Tabloidese, archetypical of the publication, it's pacy, dramatic language helps to involve the reader and keep the article moving. ...read more.

Middle

As already mentioned, all the articles use different language. The Mirror uses punchy, dramatic and sensationalised language while reporting on the incident. Some of the imagery in The Mirror is quite blatant "The bodies were lying beneath sheets of metal, most of them were torn apart" The visual images this conjures up reinforces the Mirror's point of what a horrific event this was. The language contained within The Mirror article, written by Mark Dowdney, contains a lot of emotive adjectives, giving the details an even greater impact. The mirror concentrates on what happened to Neil Harmer and his girlfriend Stacey O'Donnell, two British holiday makers who were at the resort during the accident. The article returns to them repeatedly throughout, this gives the article a more British taste, showing how luckily they narrowly missed getting on that lift. As well as quotes from them there are also quotes from regional president Carlo Anderotti, a fire services spokesman and Christina Antoiazzi; owner of the Hotel Locanda La Cascata, which is situated just 100 yards from the cable car lines. The Times concentrates more on information given from government officials, such as Massimo Brutti, the deputy defence minister, as well as having quotes from the Pentagon and search and rescue workers. The fact that the excerpts used in this article are from more official sources gives the report a much more formal feeling. The language is more complex than that used in The Mirror and has a higher level of sophistication about it. ...read more.

Conclusion

The article also has a map at the bottom, showing in much more detail and close up the area of the accident. Beside the map is a photograph of an EA-6B prowler, the aircraft that caused the accident. The Newsweek article is the most simplistic of them all, containing no pictures, diagrams or maps. It is set out in three columns, of seemingly quite large print, headed by "Blood on the Snow" in bold and below, in smaller writing (but larger than the article writing) reads the introductory sentence. The Times' and The Mirror's articles engage the reader's interest much more than the Newsweek one. They both show evidence of where and what happened. Although both these articles contain much more information and more writing than the Newsweek one they are, thanks to their set out and language, much easier to read and absorb. The presentational devices seem to break up the writing, you look at them while you read, giving yourself a visual focus rather than just reading, in addition to this they give evidence to support the writing. In my opinion the article from The Mirror suggests the full horror of the incident most effectively as it concentrates a lot on the reactions of `real people', not only that but they're also Britons, giving the reader something to relate to much more than if they were foreign. The writing style of The Mirror's report is easy to read as it is in the style that I'm used to reading. The photographs, diagram and map give visual evidence to what you're reading and help you to understand more the tragedy that has taken place. ...read more.

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