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What about the authors? Redaction and composition

I cannot always read my favourite newspaper at coffee-time in our staff common room, because someone else has bagged it already! Never mind, there are others around, and reading various papers reveals their different styles and views. To spread three or four on the table and to compare their accounts is fascinating (but best not done in the middle of a busy coffee-break!). Although they are all reporting the same story with the same standards of journalism, none the less significant differences can be noted, especially in their coverage of political debate. One paper will always take the government’s side, another the opposition’s; this editor’s views are clearly conservative, while that one espouses liberal causes. Others may be known for their concern for specific issues, such as the environment or racism, and will seek to write things from that angle if possible. Often, these preferences are communicated through very subtle means – the use of a different word here or there, a change in the focus of the story, or the cumulative effect of running several stories over many days or even longer. There is nothing particularly sinister or underhand about this: people know the various papers’ interests, and make their choice willingly. Even in reasonably accurate reporting of current events some element of interpretation is inevitable. We recognize how writers build up their interpretation through the way they tell the story…

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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