By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin
- Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois
- Stock largely owned by Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo. Gordon and Co. and JPMorgan Chase
- Revenue: 2.01 million USD
- One of the largest broadcasting companies. They have 39 television stations across the country.
- National basic channel WGN America
- Regional cable news Chicagoland Television
- They own Food Network
- Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun to name a few.
- Based in Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
- It was founded by William Randolph Hearst.
- Revenue in 2014: 10 billion USD
- Owns a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, television channels, and television stations, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, Esquire,
- Owns 50 percent of cable network A+E, and 20 percent of the sports broadcaster ESPN.
Editors have the responsibility to inform and educate readers, but most importantly, they are responsible for the type of content produced by their news agencies. In this long-form review, I will analyze three news sources across three different platforms.
- Newspaper: The Los Angeles Times
- Digital : www.latimes.com/
- Magazine: Harper’s Bazaar
Newspaper : Los Angeles Times: “Revelry Turns Deadly”
A) Content Quality
The sources used were substantial and appropriate to the angle of the story, which was about how families and friends were coping — specifically through online platforms — with the tragedy. They quote a spokesperson of the Alameda County Sheriff ’s Department and families and friends of the victims.
The story was comprehensive because there was enough background information on the incident, the subsequent investigation, and additional info about the online platforms. The story was ethical because it didn’t display or include any inappropriate and graphic information and photos. It did include names of the victims, but it withheld the name of one minor.
The story was balanced by providing quotes from both affected people and officials, to show the effects of the tragedy and the efforts being placed by investigators to serve the community.
The story did not provide in-depth information on the investigation because it focused more on the families and friends. However, it did answer the most basic questions regarding the investigation and the number of victims.
B) Editing The News
I did not find any errors. However, the Times have a different writing style compared to AP. The story repeatedly referenced the day of attack as “last Friday,” instead of December 2. I’ve learned that we should only write Monday to Friday if those days are still within the same week.
The Times does this several times; in the third paragraph with “on Sunday,” when it should be Dec. 4.
The structure of the story was good with the most important information about the online platforms higher up in the story. The Times also had good, impactful quotes.
C) Composition: design and display
I believe the front-page design of the Times enhanced the overall story of the fire, but it came with a price. The use of six front stories related to the tragedy made the front more impactful because it showed how significant it was. It also showed how the staff covered multiple aspects of the tragedy, highlighting different public concerns, ongoing investigations, and the need to tighten safety at raves. The downside, however, was that the four “less important” stories had to run beneath the main dominant photo, which to me, was too small and was a bad design choice. However, this could be a matter of practicality.
The photo used was impactful and well taken, and successfully conveyed the message of loss and despair. It’s easy to understand what the main message of the story is without looking at the cutline. It was cropped well.
The headline and sub head effectively described the overall idea behind all the stories — showing how the incident caused multiple deaths and that investigations are ongoing — but it didn’t effectively convey the message of one particular story, and I think they came to that decision because there isn’t one main front story.
One way to improve the overall quality of the front page is to have one main story and have the rest that were related placed on the inside of the newspaper. People are more likely to focus their energy on one story instead of six, and some people don’t even try to make it to the inside of the paper. I think the powerful front photo doesn’t need to be complemented by five different stories. It’s also harder for readers to determine, which story is the main story that ties all the other stories together. I had trouble with that.
C) Editorial challenges
The biggest challenge in the editorial process for this article is the issue of determining which story is the “main theme” that binds all the different stories in the newspaper. I’m not sure if the number of victims had been updated at this point, but this particular edition — days after the incident — felt like it was lacking a main story that brought all smaller stories together. The Times, I felt, struggled with that, evident by their six story front, which, was cohesive, but it felt like they were trying to “do it all.”
The digital version of one of the stories definitely helped enhance its storytelling. There was a photo slideshow that featured the vigil and a video at the mini memorial built near the site where the incident happened. Visuals and audio enhance the reading experience because people process information from these mediums faster.
2. Digital : www.latimes.com/
A) Content Quality
The reporter successfully tracked down civilians such as doctors, teachers, students, emergency workers, and mothers who are living in Aleppo, a war-torn city that is collapsing. The article is about the survivors who currently still reside in Aleppo. The story was comprehensive because it included a diverse pool of sources from all walks of life with different perspectives.
It doesn’t detail the origins of the war or a timeline of the conflict, which might be a problem for readers who aren’t as informed about the war.
The reporter tried to be balance by talking to a member of the White Helmets and a doctor who is against the group. The writer was careful not to suggest in any way which side is responsible for the attacks on civilians because of how uncertain the situation is.
The story is ethical because there aren’t any graphic visuals. The audience can appreciate this story from the eyes of the civilians who, many, had struggled to go through their days in Aleppo. But at the same time, the complexity of the issue was not addressed; leaving an unanswered question of what the root of the problem is in the Syrian war — a complex issue that is hard to answer in just one article.
B) Editing The News
The error is there should be a period after said.
There should be a period after said in this one too.
There aren’t many errors except for the two above. Although this piece took a good look at the lives of Syrian civilians who are suffering, it isn’t extensive enough for readers who don’t understand the conflict, nor does it provide the latest update of casualties and the state of the country. I would have explored that depth and included data and more background information to explain the complexity of the issue.
B) Composition: design and display
The design and display of this article is clean and easy to navigate through. The minimalist approach with well placed photos and videos definitely enhanced the story. All these elements kept me interested, and the different platforms help tell the story in different ways. I would have liked to see more data and graphics, but I feel the narrative of the story was more about the stories of the civilians rather than the about the state of Aleppo.
I think the headline was effective, though it could have been shorter and snappier. The use of strong verbs such as besieged and collapsing in the subhead is very impactful, and describes how dire the situation is in Aleppo. It also helps the readers better understand what they can expect from the story: the voices of doctors, teachers, students, emergency workers, and mothers in Syria.
The poor-quality photos and videos are excusable because no reporter currently can be in Syria, so it’s hard to take better quality photos. However, the lack of quality also offers rawness to the visual elements of the story, showing that it came straight from the sources. My suggestion to improve the overall aesthetic look is by darkening the color of the cutline. Secondly, to make certain photos larger for variety.
The biggest editorial challenge to a story such as this is to first identify ways to make the conflict easier to follow, and also to report in a way that is still fresh to avoid desensitization. The war has been going on for some time and it involves a lot of different groups and countries, so it’s important to be able to distinguish the lines — who are the victims, how may people have died, what’s the latest conflict. Another challenge is being able to report ethically via social media. A lot of the content from this story was provided to the reporter via social media or through recordings because reporters can’t physically be there. A better way the Times could have approach this story is by making a series of stories from Syria, because of its complexity. This will help readers look at different stories related to the issue without having to read one long piece that might be challenging for readers to stay engaged.
The visuals — photos and videos — helped complement the story and made it more impactful.
3) Magazine: Harper’s Bazaar
A) Content Quality
The writer only talks to Keira Knightley. It is appropriate to talk to Knightley since the story is about her. However, even as a profile story, if felt too one-sided, and it lacked depth. The source was appropriate for the type of story. The reporting, however, wasn’t really comprehensive. Because it is a feature profile, the story didn’t really need to be objective. It is ethical because there aren’t any inappropriate visuals. The writer did, however, include a sentence where the subject said, “fuck.” There isn’t an underlying “question” or issue that needs to be resolved from this story because it’s meant to be more about the subject. The story made sense to me and was clear. The story serves well for Harper’s target audience — people who identify as strong and fashionable women — or people who enjoy soft news, or artist-related news. However, it would be less interesting for people who seek hard news.
However, overall, in this edition, Harper Bazaar manages to compile a list of well-written articles that despite not being “hard news,” still had some importance to them. They manage to highlight women in non-stereotypical ways, by featuring strong women — Olympic gold winner and bicyclist Laura Trott, actress Emma Watson, and academic award winner Vanessa Redgrave — in various fields talking about their achievements.
B) Editing The News
No AP errors, or errors in general. Harper’s does not abide by the AP rule. I liked how the writer started the article; the anecdotal style was effective, and a great transition into Knightley’s personal and professional life. No major structural changes was needed for this story, though I do feel that the writer was trying too hard to make Knightley appear likeable by giving too many complements to her.
C) Composition: design and display
The design of the magazine definitely helped enhance the story. The use of many large photos of the subject easily grabs readers’ attention. Harpers’ seem to stick to a more minimalistic and “traditional” design. They don’t use too much colors on their pages, sticking to black and white colored fonts. This is also evident though the photos that Knightley models in; her style is very fitting with the style of the magazine.
There are many full photos of Knightley. There are also two portrait photos of her that look amazing. The photos were cropped well, and toned well.
The font size was too small in my opinion. On the cover, the subhead says, “female leadership is always important,” under Knightley’s name and I think that’s a powerful and good use for a subhead.
There appears to be multiple headlines because the headline inside the page and on the cover is different. The inside one was okay, but not outstanding. The one outside would peak the interest of people more than the one inside. The headlines do give readers a glimpse of what to expect of Knightley being a feminist and a Broadway actress.It could have been better worded though.
The biggest editorial challenge for Harper’s are its native ads, there are just so many of them embedded in the article. It’s understandable that magazines depend on ads for money, but even in this article, where Knightley’s photos were accompanied by captions that included the prices of her outfit, it felt like they were deceiving readers and causing consumer confusion. The ad weren’t misleading because the products were just dresses, but I’d like to see disclaimers.
Both Hearst and Tribune do their best to reach their audience. They have two different audience — Hearst does reach out to younger generation compared to Tribune who serve older people . Bazaar does manages to reach out to women.
The type of company does influence the type of coverage that news agencies engage in. It even influences what kind of coverage is possible.