The language of popular press
newspapers and websites
Why are people interested in the news?
Blumler and Katz suggested people use the
media to satisfy their needs. This is called
The Four Needs theory. It has four main
1. Escape and diversion from everyday life
2. Surveillance and information
3. Personal relationships
4. Personal identity
Popular press and the Four Needs
1.Newspapers and websites can provide an escape
from people’s own everyday life; the audience can
get involved with different news stories, they can get
carried away with the drama, the tragedy or the
excitement and forget about their own lives and
worries for a while.
2. Surveillance: newspapers and websites can provide
information about the world; the audience can learn
things, and find out what is happening ‘out there.’
Popular press – the four needs
3. Personal relationships: the audience can chat to each
other about events of the day, sharing opinions and
information about current events, celebrity news,
sports and so on. It provides an opportunity for
4. Personal identity: audience members can compare
themselves with people in the news, imagining how
they would react in similar circumstances. Some
people like to identify with a newspaper and
describe themselves as ‘a Sun reader’ or ‘a Guardian
• Institutions are the companies who produce
• They operate as profit-making businesses.
• They make money partly through the cover price of
the newspaper, but mainly through selling
advertising space in the newspaper / on the website.
• The advertising should appeal to the same specific
audience group that the newspaper targets.
• The audience are the people who read the
newspaper. Different types of people read
different types of newspapers.
• Each newspaper is aimed at a certain group of
people –this is ‘target audience.’
• Audiences can be divided by demographics –
this includes the age, gender, location and
class / income of the person.
Categorisation of News Stories
• Hard News – events happening at the time they are
reported e.g. death of a high profile figure, rise in
interest rates, acts of terrorism or war, serious
• Soft News – human interest stories e.g. lottery winners,
daredevil charity events etc
• Soft news provides light relief from hard news and
sometimes allows audiences to imagine how they
would react if they were in a similar position
• News tries to get audiences to identify with or connect
to the events that happen and Hard News cannot
always engage audiences as well as Soft News.
Galtung and Ruge – News Values
What makes a newsworthy
Stories which fit into these
categories are more likely to
make it into the news
• Continuity – carries on with a story that is already in the
• Familiarity – to do with people or places close to home –
sometimes the ‘local’ angle is played up e.g. the British
people aboard the plane shot down over the Ukraine or
the one that was flown into the Alps
• Elite Persons – to do with a famous or important person
• Negativity – bad news/suffering
• Conflict – war/fighting/argument
• Unexpectedness – sudden or unusual event
• Personalisation – a story with a human interest angle or
one that can be portrayed through how it affects a
• Consonance – fits with the way the institution or
audience already thinks
• Of course stories can have more than one of
these news values
• “Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 disappears
suddenly. All passengers are presumed dead.
Islamic terrorists suspected at first. Two British
people on board, feared dead.”
• This contains Unexpectedness, Negativity,
Conflict, Consonance and Familiarity
• First identified by Norwegian academic Galtung and Rouge in 1965
• Built on by Harcup’s News Values – reflect current trends in British
and Global News
• A. The Power Elite – news regarding powerful individual,
organisations and institutions
• B. Celebrity – people who already famous
• C. Entertainment – focus on sex, show business, human interest,
animals, unfolding dramas or offer opportunity for humour
• D. Surprise/Contrast
• E. Bad News
• F. Good News
• G. Magnitude – news significant regarding the volume of people
• H. Relevance – news concerning issues, groups, nations relevant to
• I. Follow-ups – bulletins on subject featured recently
• J. News Agenda – stories that set/fit the news organisations own
agenda such as informatioln/entertainment
• In media studies, media language means more than
just words. Media language means everything you
can see on a text.
• It includes words, font size and font style, pictures,
graphics and other images, layout and design, colour
and so on.
• Everything you see is part of media language because
it is all part of the way the text gets its message
across. When you read a media text, you respond to
colour, pictures, layout, design as well as the words.
• Label the front page of one of these classic
Sun front pages, or any other newspaper
front page, using the appropriate media
What’s on the front page?
• The masthead is the name
of the newspaper. It stays
the same every day. It
reflects the style of the
• Compare these mastheads.
• Which one is NOT from the
• What impression does each
masthead give of the
What’s on the front page?
• The picture – copy ratio is the amount of
pictures / images / graphics compared to the
amount of copy, or writing.
• Typically, popular press papers have a high
picture to copy ratio - a lot of pictures / images
/ graphics and not a lot of writing.
• What is the picture copy ratio on the front page
you have just looked at?
What’s on the front page?
• The headlines catch the attention of the buyer.
• Popular press newspapers usually have big, bold, dramatic headlines.
• Sometimes they are sensationalised or over-dramatic.
Which of these are popular press headlines?
How can you tell?
• ‘CROOK SMACKS HOOK’
• ‘HOW OUR AFGAN ALLIES APPLIED THE GENVA CONVENTION’
• ‘YOU’RE NICKED’
• ‘I’M FREE’
Media language of websites
• Home page – the main / first page
• Branding – the logos, images, graphics and colour-scheme which create the
recognisable image of the website / institution.
• Above the fold – what you can see on the webpage without scrolling down
• Banner – a horizontal section of the webpage, often with additional information or
• Sidebars – a horizontal section of the site, usually at the side of the page, often
containing separate or additional content.
• Banner ads / scrolling ads – adverts in banner form. Scrolling banners contain
• Frame – an area for specific content. A website will have several frames, each for
• Grid – the layout of the frames on the page, similar to the columns in a newspaper,
but are more adaptable.
• Links – allow you to navigate between different pages on this website, and to link
to other sites.
• Flash content – moving image content such as film footage and animations.
Newspapers and news-websites both have
• A print newspaper can be taken and read anywhere with no
technology needed. However, you do need a shop to buy it
• Websites can be downloaded anywhere, if you have the right
• Websites can include moving images and sound.
• Newspapers can be easier to read, with less information.
• It is easier to interact with websites through forums.
• Websites can be slow to load and awkward to navigate.
• Websites can be updated throughout the day to reflect
• Newspapers use up valuable resources in paper and in
distributing copies around the country.
Which is best?
• Do you prefer newspapers or news websites? Explain
why you prefer one medium over another.
• How do you usually access your news?
• Do you think people’s age, location or other factors
affect whether they prefer to access news through
print or e-media? Explain why.
• Conduct a survey of people of different ages – does
this affect how they receive their news?