Week 11 – A problem article

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.


9 thoughts on “Week 11 – A problem article

Add yours

  1. Hi Taylor,
    Again, I think you have done some great work here.
    You have referenced your views very well.
    There is one word out of place in this sentence: “The second last paragraph says that there was a train full of people WAS at the platform when the incident occurred.” I have highlighted it for you.
    Hoping to be of help to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Taylor,
    This is a great in-depth analysis of the news article. It can’t be a good thing for a journalist when the critique on his/her writing is longer than the actual article!
    Good luck with your submission.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nicholas.

      I agree. I still shudder to think whether this really is considered a ready-to-print article by The Courier-Mail, or just some awful mistake.

      Thanks so much. You too :).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome job Taylor. You have completed this task thoroughly by using examples from the textbook, I’m really impressed and have learnt a lot from your work. One small thing I picked up from the guideline was the use of direct links to the 24/7 help services for online articles, something the Courier Mail story did not include. Best wishes. Tash

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tash, I appreciate your kind words :).

      Oh, I didn’t notice that. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.


  4. Hi Taylor

    Inquiry – Critique news story article

    Your critique and analysis are thoughtful and thorough. You have identified all the issues wrong with the article and provided specific examples and linked them to the textbook Media Writing by Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith, 2012.

    I thought it was insightful that you noted how the article could be perceived by readers. For example, you discussed how the two paragraphs about people on the train platform witnessing the incident could be sensationalising the story. It would be good to link this back to the purpose of journalism as reporters and their obligation to the public as the Fourth Estate.

    I have enjoyed reading your analysis and critique.


    Liked by 1 person

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