Compare the newspaper article which appeared in 'The Guardian' with the BBC 'Panorama' documentary about Dr Harold Shipman. Discuss the different presentational devices used by each and their effectiveness as pieces of media

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English Media Coursework

Compare the newspaper article which appeared in ‘The Guardian’ with the BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary about Dr Harold Shipman. Discuss the different presentational devices used by each and their effectiveness as pieces of media


Dr Harold Shipman, a previously trusted family doctor, was found guilty of murdering 15 of his patients, in February 2000. ‘The Guardian’ newspaper and the ‘Panorama’ television show both made in-depth reports of these atrocities. Both contained the same information and had the same purpose, but they are presented in completely different ways, and are intended for different audiences.

        In this essay I am going to compare the different presentational devices used and describe their effectiveness.

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The two different reports on Dr Harold Shipman contain roughly the same information, but they have presented the information that would apply to their target audience. They have also gone into more detail about parts of the case that they feel are important. The way that their reports were presented depended on the type of media they used. The newspaper, because it had limited space, had to make their report short and to the point, only including the most important information.  

The ‘Panorama’ documentary included interviews with the families of the victims, friends of Shipman and even a patient who escaped his wrath. The newspaper contained a few interviews, but because it was written, it couldn’t have the same effect as the interviews in the documentary. The interviews in ‘Panorama’ were much more convincing than the ones in the newspaper. The interviews take up less space in a television show than in a newspaper, so most of the time, the newspaper will only include the most important parts of the interview, or maybe even sometimes miss out parts of the interview to influence the readers mind.

        Harold Shipman’s final victim was Cathleen Grundy. Shipman killed her, the forged her will, and inherited her £386,000 estate. ‘The Guardian’ writes only a small sentence on this case:

“…and forging the £386,000

will of his final victim.”

Yet the documentary had a whole piece on the Cathleen Grundy case. It shows a re-construction of the murder, it shows the £386,000 estate that was in her will, and it also shows interviews with Cathleen Grundy’s family. This is significant because this case was the one that finally brought Shipman to justice.

        ‘Panorama’ was a special show, broadcasted after the watershed (9pm). This means that the show was deemed unsuitable for younger viewers. I agree with the makers of the show, the things that Shipman did were horrifying, and not for the ears or eyes of children. The grotesque details that were in the documentary were left out of the newspaper report, this is because they can’t control who reads their newspaper. They can’t go into too much detail as the information may offend some people.

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        The content of the newspaper article is mainly about Harold Shipman’s court trial, whereas the TV documentary focuses on each of his victims, and how he carried out his murders.

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        The words in the newspaper article are very negative of Dr Shipman. The words in the article are used to make Shipman look like a monster, with a sick twisted mind.

“…was yesterday convicted of

murdering 15 elderly female

patients, and may have killed

dozens more…”

By saying ‘dozens’, it doesn’t give an exact figure, leaving the reader thinking that he ...

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