How Newspapers Reported the Story of Madeleine McCann

Authors Avatar by east-enders1 (student)

Madeleine McCann:- A Never Ending Story

The story is about a missing British girl called Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal on 3rd May 2007, whilst on holiday with her parents Kate and Gerry and her twin siblings.  She was taken from a ground room bedroom in a villa they were staying in whilst left unsupervised as her parents dined in a restaurant about 120metres away.  The story attracted huge media attention worldwide, and was widely covered by British newspapers.  Everyday new stories emerged as new evidence was discovered.  All newspapers, tabloids and broadsheets both took different angles as to how they covered the story.  Some newspapers reported her parents killed her whilst others reported eyewitness claiming to have seen the kidnapper.  

The coverage by tabloids and broadsheets differ.  The tabloids take a more direct approach in their coverage.  They make more accusations and are more speculative.  The headings are considerably larger than those in the broadsheet and are generally shorter and more ‘snappy’.  This is due to the fact they target the less educated reader in order to sell their paper.  Headlines such as ‘Maddie ‘Dumped in the Sea’, ‘Maddie Kidnap: The Proof’ and ‘Did you kill her by accident?’ show the assumptions and accusations they are making.  On the other hand, the broadsheets generally take a more factual, and informative approach.  Their headings are generally longer and talk more about evidence.  ‘Madeleine Suspect Quizzed for Ten Hours’, ‘Maddie Hair in Car Boot’ and ‘Police Want Answers to 14 Questions’.  These headings show the broadsheets providing more detail about the case and speculating less.  The difference in the way broadsheets present this story is that they target more educated readers.

The ‘Daily Star’ and the ‘Daily Express’ take a different approach to the story.  This is down to their target audience and the type of newspaper they are.  The ‘Daily Star’ is a tabloid aimed at young men who are interested more in sport than news takes a very direct and ‘out there’ approach.  The headings generally cover the whole page with little writing.  This is because they want people to buy their paper and read the story inside.  ‘Maddie police arrest 80 paedos’, ‘I saw man who took Maddie’ and ‘Maddie was not taken by paedo’.  These headlines are outgoing like many other tabloids are more speculative than informative and are just aimed at boosting sales rather than giving facts.  

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On the other hand, the ‘Daily Express’ takes a different approach.  The ‘Daily Express’ is aimed at middle aged readers and takes this story more seriously.  Its headings usually start with a bold ‘Madeleine’ with her picture and then present their headline.  This shows the paper informing their readers of the latest update with her case.  The headlines are usually followed by a small paragraph giving details on this update.  Their headlines are less speculative and more informative.  ‘We’ve let Madeleine Down’ and ‘Madeleine: She IS in Morocco.’  These headlines show the ‘Daily Express’ giving a more enlightening approach.


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