Inquiry: Read and review a Courier-Mail article
This week, we have been asked to review a Courier-Mail article and identify its problems, according to the journalistic guidelines we have been taught this term.
I am surprised at just how poorly written the article is.
Its problems include:
- The headline is too long, and it is boring and repetitive. ‘Train’ has been repeated twice and ‘Eagle Junction Train Station’ is unnecessary information.
Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2012, p. 284) say that headlines should grab attention, have a maximum of six words and avoid too much detail.
- The article is highly repetitive. For example, the first three sentences are almost exactly the same.
Online writing should be tight and therefore should have no room for repetition (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 283).
- The lead sentence does not include the 5 Ws and H.
These are spread throughout the article and should ideally be incorporated into the first two paragraphs.
- The seventh paragraph doesn’t make sense.
It also contains several unnecessary words and phrases (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 88).
- The article is contradictory.
For example, one sentence says that rescue services are continuing their efforts, then the next says that the woman has been freed.
- It uses gender stereotypes.
The Queensland Ambulance Service officer is referred to as a ‘spokeswoman’ instead of instead of a ‘spokesperson’ (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 98).
- It mixes tenses.
The eighth paragraph is written in present tense while the rest of the article is written in past tense.
The article meets the majority of the guidelines for reporting self-harm.
However, the journalist has not met one criterion, as they have failed to take care not to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes.
The second last paragraph says that a train full of people was at the platform when the incident occurred.
The final paragraph says that the incident was being treated as one of self harm.
The arrangement of these two paragraphs makes it seem like the woman was doing it for attention, which is considered an inaccurate stereotype.
I can only hope that this article was someone’s first draft that was accidentally published, and that it was not considered a polished final story by The Courier-Mail’s editor.
Ames, K 2016, Module 2: Identifying news, course notes, COMM11007: Media Writing, CQUniversity e-courses, http://moodle.cqu.edu.au
How-to-Annotate-a-Reading-Assignment n.d., digital image, StepByStep, viewed 25 September 2016, http://www.stepbystep.com/how-to-annotate-a-reading-assignment-109226/
O’Brien, C 2014, ‘Woman stuck under train at Eagle Junction Train Station, Brisbane’, The Courier-Mail, 10 September, viewed 25 September 2016, http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/woman-stuck-under-train-at-eagle-junction-train-station-brisbane/news-story/3fdffc6978a2cb47b0461d1dbb1177ad
Whitaker, W R, Ramsey, J E & Smith, R D 2012, Media writing: print, broadcast, and public relations, 4th edn, Routledge, New York.
Editing Note: One of my sentences has been reworded to remove repetition as per Catherine’s below feedback.