Playing up, playing down

November 19, 2012 • Ethics and Quality • by

How have the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal covered Murdoch’s News of the World hacking scandal?Alessia Borrè of the University of Lugano has dedicated her bachelor thesis to this question. Making a direct comparison is difficult, as the Wall Street Journal remains a business paper. However when Murdoch incorporated the WSJ into his media empire, he increasingly repositioned it as a blatant competitor to the New York Times. Borrè’s research results are hardly ambiguous. The New York Times (along with the help of the Guardian in the U.K.) went to far lengths to ensure the global public took note of the scandal.

The Wall Street Journal was unable to neglect coverage entirely, although it certainly tried to downplay the news as illustrated by the careful word selection exhibited in reports. While the WSJ referred to the “matter” “saga” or “situation,” the word “scandal” was rarely used. To the contrary, Borrè found words like “outrage” “scandal” or “outcry”in the New York Times – terms which may describe the events much more precisely. It should be mentioned, however, that Borrè’s research is based on a very small sample of analyzed articles.

First published in: Schweizer Journalist Nr. 10 + 11/2012

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