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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
  • Word count: 2884

An investigation into the difference in readability between a tabloid and a broadsheet newspaper.

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Katherine Allen An investigation into the difference in readability between a tabloid and a broadsheet newspaper Introduction and Aims Readability can be defined as how easy or how difficult something is to read. If it were hard to read, one would say it has a high readability. I think it is possible to determine readability by the number of letters in a word or perhaps by the number of words in a sentence. Shorter words would be easier to read as they are more commonly used whereas as longer words may be more difficult to recognise. Longer sentences are likely to go into more depth so would be more complicated to read. There are different types of newspaper, aimed at different groups of readers. There are tabloid, quality and broadsheet newspapers. Some papers are published daily, while some come out weekly. There are also special issues that are in shops on Saturdays or Sundays. I have chosen to investigate The Independent, a daily broadsheet, and The Mirror, a daily tabloid, because I feel there will be a greater difference in readability between these than if I were to investigate the comparison between a tabloid and a quality newspaper, or a broadsheet and a quality newspaper. Broadsheets are aimed at the more intellectual reader - people who would buy newspapers for detailed, in-depth news stories. Tabloids are aimed at people who prefer only a brief overview of the main news stories, and more 'gossipy' articles. Therefore I would expect The Independent to have a higher readability than The Mirror. It is the aim of this investigation to confirm this theory, or otherwise discover reasons for its refutation. ...read more.


The Independent Median - 6 Lower Quartile - 4 Upper Quartile - 8 The Mirror Median - 6 Lower Quartile - 5 Upper Quartile - 8 Katherine Allen Stratified Sample The previous part of this investigation only took into account one section of the newspaper. This may not have given the whole picture of the difference in word length, as only certain sections were investigated. Carrying out a stratified sample would mean there is a representation of the length of words throughout the whole paper. To take a stratified sample I will first need to ascertain the different sections in each paper, for example, news, business, sport etc. I will then need to count how many pages there are of each section. There will not be the same sections in each paper but this will not be a problem, as it is a comparison between the overall newspapers, not the sections themselves. When counting the pages I will leave out those that are adverts or taken up almost completely with adverts. I will also exclude television guides and pages covered with tables showing sports results or similar. I don't think that the wording on those types of pages will be different in length, and often they are not formed onto sentences so the level of readability would be very hard to determine. I will take the number of pages in the section and divide it by the number of pages altogether. I will then multiply this number by 100, which is the number of words that I shall count from each newspaper. I am using this number of words in my samples because it seemed to give a wide spread of results during the last part of the investigation and I therefore consider it to be a reasonable number in order to gain a fair sample. ...read more.


Many pages had large pictures or advertisements taking up part of the space. I had to judge how much of the page should be counted, with no real way of measuring. Perhaps, in further investigations I would need to measure the images and work out exactly how much of the page was part of the particular section, in order to get a more accurate result. I do not think that readability can necessarily be determined by the length of words. This assumption that I made at the beginning of the investigation may well be false and could, therefore, invalidate the whole investigation. It would be true to say that, often, longer words are harder to read than shorter ones, but this is not always the case. For example, words such as 'augur', which are not commonly known or used, would, for most people, be harder to read than regularly used, longer words such as 'determinedly'. I think the readability also depends upon the order of letters in words, and the sounds they make. Another way of investigating the readability of newspapers might be to actually ask somebody to read the paper and either time how long it takes them, or count how many times they stumble over words, or make mistakes. It would be best if the person reading the newspaper were a child, as they are more likely to have difficulties in reading. I would have to get quite a few children to read, as it would not be fair to make conclusions after testing the theory on just one person. However, it would be very difficult to find a large group of people who are of the same reading level and, if they were not all of the same ability, this could invalidate the investigation. ...read more.

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