In-depth analysis of 3 news articles

I decided to analyze three journalistic articles about the Quebec mosque shooting that occurred Sunday, January 29, 2017. The introduction in a news article is split up into two sections called the lead and the nut graf. The lead is the first sentence or paragraph of an article that tells the most important information. There are two different types of leads (and types of news stories). A news story is what is published immediately, where as a feature story is normally longer in text and is written long after an event to include all information known. A news lead gives the most important information, while a feature lead normally has a creative hook to draw the readers’ attention. The nut graf gives additional information that the lead did not discuss. Together, both elements answer the questions: who, what, when, where, and why.

I chose to analyze a Cable News Network (CNN) article, a New York Times article, and an article from the Washington Post. All three were published the day after the shooting.

The targeted audience for these three news stories would be people who are interested in the content—not only Canadians, but also Americans. The situation described in the articles is something that could possibly happen in the United States due to the current political divide between those who support Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban and those who do not.

There are five different modes that can be included in a text—linguistic, spatial, gestural, aural, and visual. The linguistic mode is made up of language, the spatial mode refers to physical arrangement of the content, and the gestural mode refers to the way movement creates meaning. The visual mode involves the use of images, while the aural mode involves the use of sounds. In this evaluation, I will discuss each article’s use of the spatial, linguistic, visual and aural modes.

The Spatial Mode

Linguistic Mode

Each article has its own way of using a concise title, telling the information, portraying the suspects and victims, and using a variety of sources.

Screenshot from CNN

The CNN article’s title states, “Quebec mosque shooting: ‘lone wolf’ kills 6, officials say.”  Just by reading the title, readers already know a little bit about the suspect. What does ‘lone wolf’ mean? Could it mean he was alone in nature—no friends, family, etc.? Or that a large group did not organize the crime, that he was alone in committing the crime? Neither of the other two articles takes the approach that CNN did.

Screenshot from The New York Times

The New York Time’s title reads, “Quebec Mosque Attack Forces Canadians to Confront a Strain of Intolerance.” It does a good job of telling exactly what the article will be about—Canadians confronting a strain of intolerance.

Screenshot from The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s article says, “Suspect in deadly Canadian mosque shooting charged with six counts of murder.” It lists the most recent and important information that the writer knew at the time.

The textual content of each source runs along the same line of giving the main details, such as who the shooter was, what he was charged with, when everything happened, and how the country (and others around the world) are reacting. Other than that, each article is different.

Screenshot from CNN



Screenshot from The Washington Post

Above is a screenshot of the leads and nut grafs from the CNN and Washington Post articles. CNN and the Post both show that these are news stories. They tell who the shooter was, how he was charged, where the event occurred, and so on. Both articles give all the details for the reader to know exactly what happened.

Screenshot from The New York Times

The New York Times had a feature lead that gave an interesting hook into the story and showed what the rest of the article is about: Canada. However in the nut graf (second paragraph), the article still gives the reader the most recent and important information about the shooting.

As was stated before, the main details of the event were included in each article. However, there were some details that were included by only one or two. The New York Times gives more detail on the divide in Canada of those who are anti-Muslim and those who are not. CNN focused on the attack and how it affected Canada. The Washington Post includes condolences that were sent by United States President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the city of Paris, and the Pope. All three articles end with important quotes about the attack, solidarity, and the Islam community.

From the CNN article:

Screenshot from CNN

From the New York Times article:

Screenshot from The New York Times

From the Washington Post article:

Screenshot from The Washington Post

The New York Times article only discusses one suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, who was confirmed and charged as the shooter. However, The Washington Post also wrote about and interviewed the other suspect who was released, Mohamed Belkhadir  was arrested due to a misunderstanding by the police, while CNN just mentioned him as another suspect. New York Times and the Washington Post both describe Bissonnette as a shooter, however The CNN article depicted him to be a “lone wolf,” yet The New York Times described him as “boyish” in the statement below:

Mr. Bissonnette, 27, who was also charged with five counts of attempted murder, appeared at the Quebec City courthouse looking boyish in a white jumpsuit. He was not charged with terrorism, which under Canada’s Criminal Code requires a broad proof of intent to intimidate the public.

Lone wolf tells the reader a little bit about his personality, however boyish downplays the fact that he is a murderer. All three stories tell of the victims. CNN lists them by name and age. The New York Times lists each person alongside their occupation. The Washington Post tells how many victims there were and includes a quote by Mohamed Labibi of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center, seen below:

Screenshot from the Washington Post

Each article uses an array of sources ranging from officials to social media posts. Every source used gives either more information about what occurred or speculated why the shooting happened. The Washington Post and CNN did something unusual by using multiple social media platforms as sources.

Screenshot from the Washington Post

The Post used various tweets to show how different people around the world, such as the verified Twitter account of Paris, stood in support of the Canadians shown above.

Screenshot from CNN

While, CNN not only used tweets to show what the Prime Minister and the province’s premier had to say in the aftermath of the attack, it also referred to a specific Facebook post to describe how the mosque had been targeted for being Muslim multiple times prior, as you can see above. Instead of calling the mosque or those who worship there and asking more questions, the journalists went straight to its Facebook page for information. Both uses of the social media are vital. The first use shows how social media unites the world because not only did Paris find out about the attack, but also in a matter of seconds condolences and support were offered. The second use shows that social media platforms are growing as news sources. Young people today log onto Twitter and Snapchat to see what is happening around the world. In response, journalists are beginning to use social media for the same reason: to find out what is going on.

The Visual and Aural Modes

 Each article was full of photos and videos. CNN used an emotional-driven video before their story that gave a full description of what happened (although one of the facts were wrong). It used music that gave the viewer a sense of fear and text alongside on street video interviews that encouraged the reader to send emotional support to Canada. The rest of the article inserted tweets, a map to show where the shooting occurred, and another video of a CNN broadcast to give even more detail about the event.

The New York Times also began the article with an emotional video, but it was made to make the reader angry about what happened. It started with the sound of voices speaking in another language and showed text to tell what the voices were saying. At one point, one of the men speaking blamed Donald Trump. Then, the video gave more text to tell what occurred alongside video interviews of those who were nearby the mosque. You can find the video below:

After the video, the article showed photos of those supporting Canadian Muslims, a map of where the shooting occurred, and a picture of the Prime Minister addressing a crowd near the mosque.

The Washington Post began their article with an emotional photo (seen below) followed by a video that gave text to tell the story of what happened and included sad music and the sound of sirens and people speaking. The video also showed photos taken at the scene. The rest of the article included a photo series, a map, and another video that shows more video interviews about what occurred at the mosque, followed by tweets from Paris and Jim Watson.

Photo from The Washington Post

Each photo and video were used to either draw an emotion out of the reader or to give more information. Photos, videos, and maps can tell more about an event than only using words by putting the reader in the moment and giving a full view of exactly what happened, that may not be able to be portrayed with just words.

All three articles do a good job of telling the reader everything they need to know about the Quebec mosque shooting. I do not think there is one that is particularly better than the others because each one takes their own angle on the story, whether that be the response of Canadians or the response from around the world.


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