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Analysing Print Media

Traditionally, newspapers were split between tabloids and broadsheets, broadsheets being the larger, more serious papers that you had to fold to read. Now most newspapers are printed at the same size, but the broadsheet and tabloid values remain in place.

The gap between tabloids and broadsheets is a wide one. They look different, they contain different news, they have a different style of writing and they aim to attract different readers. However, the competition for readers is intense, and tabloids and broadsheets may steal tricks off each other in order to win the circulation war (eg) many broadsheet newspapers in Britain run 'Fantasy Football Leagues' which originated as a tabloid tactic.

Here are a few of the main differences:

Tabloid Broadsheet
  • Popular press
  • Advertising aimed at lower social groupings (C2,D & E)
  • Bold layout (eg colour on the masthead, very bold typeface, easy to read), with large, dramatic pictures
  • Language is informal, colloquial
  • Shorter articles, more pictures, less 'in-depth' reporting
  • Puns and jokes in headlines
  • More focus on human interest stories, celebrity gossip
  • Use of gimmicks such as bingo games, free travel tickets, online surveys to attract readers
  • 'Quality' or 'serious' press
  • Advertising aimed at higher social groupings (A,B,C1)
  • More sophisticated and formal language used in articles
  • Plainer layout (no colour on the frontpage, smaller typeface suggests readers will make more effort to read it), and subtle, possibly smaller, pictures
  • Longer articles, more detailed
  • Serious headlines
  • More focus on politics, international news, reviews of "high" culture e.g. opera, art exhibitions

The Front Page

Newspaper front pages evolved over several centuries, and many of the conventions have been passed on to the home page of a newspaper's website –effectively their Internet front page – as they need to fulfil the same functions. A front page or online home page must:

You will find most of these elements on the front page:

Masthead —the newspaper's name, often in traditional gothic lettering. It may not have changed for many years so it's the easiest way to identify a newspaper. An important part of branding

“All The News That's Fit To Print”—The New York Times

Slogan - a 'catchphrase' summing up the newspaper's philosophy or unique selling point
'Puffs' or 'blurbs' — colour bands that aim to attract readers to stories inside the newspaper or 'coming soon' features

Headlines — the largest typeface on the page for the most important stories
Sub-heads — in smaller typeface, sometimes italicised, that explain more about the story

Local School Rocked by Series Of Explosions

Lead story — highlighted as being of most interest to the most readers
By-line —journalist's name & details, often includes a photo, plus Twitter ID

By Clark Kent, Special Correspondent

Spending too long on the internet may ruin your eyes, medical researchers warned today. New evidence suggests that there is a definite link...

Secondary Lead — still an important story, but less so than the lead
Photographs!!!— They may illustrate the lead story, or be there to make a reader "turn to page 6..." Accompanying captions can be just as meaningful as the photographs

Menu — A 'table of contents' showing what is in each section and where to go to find articles inside the newspaper
Small/line ad — containing text only, no images

Display ad — includes a picture

Front Pages Around The World

If you want to know what newspaper front pages around the world look like on today (or any other day), the Newseum (in Washington, D.C.) has a special agreement with over 800 newspapers from cities in Alabama to Zambia to display their front pages each day on the Newseum website. You can browse them here: