# 'Broad-sheets are more difficult to read as tabloid newspapers' discuss.

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Introduction

## Maths Coursework: Statistics

Different newspapers are written to suit different preferences. Tabloids are a lighter read whereas broad-sheets involve more ‘serious’ and detailed articles.

My hypothesis is that broad-sheets are more difficult to read as tabloid newspapers summarise events using less profound wording, which makes articles more easily understood than broad-sheet articles. Tabloids also try to attract and hold the attention of the reader more.

To see whether my hypothesis is true, I will have to compare statistically certain data between a broad-sheet newspaper and a tabloid newspaper concerning articles on similar topics and the size of certain varying texts.

The difficulty of the reading can be measured by certain factors: word length, sentence length, paragraph length, article length, the time taken to read an article, area of article on page, area of headline on page etc… I have decided, for the experiment, I will compare word length– the amount of letters in a word; sentence length– the amount of words in a sentence; and percentage area of headline text that makes up the newspaper page excluding margins, pictures and other texts. I have chosen these three factors as the longer the word or sentence, the more concentration is needed to read and focus on what is being said. However, the percentage area of a headline is to prove how much of the newspaper is dedicated to actual text, therefore more concentration is required, instead of just trying to attract attention to the actual newspaper on news-stands etc, not the news it consists.

Middle

0

4

14

1

0

0

1

= 4.76 = 2.58

Comparison of results

Mean | Standard Deviation | |

Daily Mail | 4.61 | 2.49 |

The Independent | 4.76 | 2.58 |

As there is not a big difference between the word length of both newspapers, I shall draw a frequency diagram. A bar graph will be sketched to show the frequency of each newspaper’s word length using the total frequency of all 3 article’s data from each newspaper.

Sentence length

Grouped frequency tables:

Cumulative frequency is found by adding each frequency to each other, it is the running total of the frequency.

The mid point is found through the class width. We can only estimate the mean by using the mid point as an estimate of how many words there are in one sentence of the Daily Mail or The Independent.

The Daily Mail: the number of words in every sentence that make up the 3 articles sampled.

Class width of No. of words in sentence | Tally | Frequency | Cumulative Frequency | Mid point |

1 – 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | |

6 – 10 | 13 | 14 | 8 | |

11 – 15 | 14 | 28 | 13 | |

16 – 20 | 15 | 43 | 18 | |

21 – 25 | 16 | 59 | 23 | |

26 – 30 | 6 | 65 | 28 | |

31 – 35 | 7 | 72 | 33 | |

36 – 40 | 4 | 76 | 38 | |

41 – 45 | 3 | 79 | 43 |

The Independent: the number of words in every sentence that makes up the 3 articles sampled.

Class width of No. of words in sentence | Tally | Frequency | Cumulative Frequency | Mid point |

1 – 5 | 0 | 0 | 3 | |

6 – 10 | 5 | 5 | 8 | |

11 – 15 | 7 | 12 | 13 | |

16 – 20 | 12 | 24 | 18 | |

21 – 25 | 14 | 38 | 23 | |

26 – 30 | 9 | 47 | 28 | |

31 – 35 | 13 | 60 | 33 | |

36 – 40 | 4 | 64 | 38 | |

41 – 45 | 6 | 70 | 43 | |

46 – 50 | 2 | 72 | 48 | |

51 – 55 | 2 | 74 | 53 |

Firstly, I will draw a cumulative frequency graph that accumulates the frequencies. I can use this to estimate the median as well as the Inter-quartile ranges. Using the same information, I will draw a frequency polygon by plotting the mid-point against the frequency.

Area and percentage area of headlines

When calculating the area of the headline, I will measure 9 headlines per paper. One headline per page for the first three pages of both news papers as well as the first three pages of the finance and sport sections. I shall ignore pages made up entirely of adverts or article word text, and simply use the next page as an example. The pages that share a headline like so:

When the area of the headline has been calculated, I shall divide it by 2 so that the 2 pages will share the same headline area and its percentage, though counting each page singularly. To calculate the percentage of the headline area: (headline area ÷ page area) x 100%.

The Daily Mail:

Total area of page = 985.5 cm²

986 cm²

100% = 986 cm²

Newspaper Section | ||||||

General News | Finance | Sport | ||||

Pg. Number | Area | % Area | Area | % Area | Area | % Area |

1 | 152.3cm² | 15.5 | ||||

2 | 152cm² | 15.4 | ||||

3 | 173.2cm² | 17.6 | ||||

75 | 88.4cm² | 9 | ||||

77 | 100.9cm² | 10.2 | ||||

78 | 86.3cm² | 8.8 | ||||

85 | 129.6cm² | 13.1 | ||||

86 | 78.3cm² | 7.9 | ||||

87 | 87cm² | 8.8 |

Conclusion

The Independent: % area mean = 4.77cm² standard deviation = 1.65

Daily Mail: actual area mean = 116.4cm² standard deviation = 33.67

Daily Mail: % area mean = 11.81cm² standard deviation = 3.43

From both the actual area and percentage area, it is obvious that the Daily Mail dedicates more of its page area to attention grabbing headlines than actual article text that informs. The histograms show this with the absence of The Independent data on certain scales of area.

From the histogram, we can find the probability of Headlines making certain proportions of the page as the area of each rectangle on the histogram relates to frequency.

Probability (Event) = frequency of event ÷ total frequencies.

Actual area

Probability = area of event rectangle ÷ total area

The Independent:

Probability (area between 90cm² and 150cm²)

= 5

Probability (> 120cm²) = 1 – 5 = 1

Daily Mail:

Probability (area between 90cm² and 150cm²)

= 2

Probability (> 120 cm²) = 1 – 2 = 2

These examples also show that the Daily Mail takes up more headline space.

My prediction was correct, my conclusion of all results support that The Independent uses more complicated language which requires more concentration which encourages difficulty whereas the Daily Mail’s page area is made up of more headlines than The Independent, suggesting that it attracts your attention to an attractive headline leading to read the less detailed article with interest. As the sentence length is smaller, it encourages easier reading and the reader continues read the article.

However, the conclusion is based on a very small sample of only 2 examples of braod sheet and tabloid newspapers. If more time was permitted, a wider investigation could have been performed with more examples of newspapers, investigating the size of photographs or pictures and seeing if there was any correlation between the size of pictures and sentence length etc.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Comparing length of words in newspapers section.

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