By considering presentational, structural and linguistic devices, compare and contrast the ways in which Paradorn Srichaphan is portrayed in these two newspaper articles. “No time for girls” and “Paradorn – a tale of the unexpected” are two different articles that were printed in the papers on the same day, by the same publishers. They are both sports features about rising Asian tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan and so there are many similarities.
Since one is from the tabloid ‘Streats’ and the other is from the publishers’ broadsheet newspaper “The Straits Times”, there are many differences in the linguistic, presentational and structural devices used to portray Paradorn. Because of the difference in newspaper type and viewpoints, the two articles follow contrasting writing styles. As expected of most tabloid features, the article, “No time for girls”, follows a very informal register. There are many questions which are then answered through direct speech and the language is very colloquial.
The register in “Paradorn – A tale of the unexpected”, although very formal compared to the tabloid article, is informal for an article appearing in a broadsheet. This is due to the type of article it is, a sports feature. The article consists of numerous quotes from Paradorn and other people, which makes it seem informal. However, the actual article, written by the journalist, has a range of complex and varied vocabulary and syntax, such as “impromptu” and “confidante”. In both cases, the readers will be very selected and so, the journalists can afford to be informal.
The tone in newspaper articles is often determined by the register. The broadsheet article follows a formal, reported tone while “No time for girls” follows a fairly informal tone. A reason for this difference in tone is the source of the articles. The article appearing in the broadsheet newspaper is written by media giant AFP, which means that it has a worldwide audience. It is therefore very formal in both register and tone. The tabloid article is written by a local journalist. Since the audience is only the local community, he has chosen to make it informal.
Considering that he has written the article for a small audience, the article is a lot more personal. This would help the readers empathise with Paradorn and his sudden climb to success. Journalists often use a ‘pyramidal writing style’ to organise the information, giving the important facts at the beginning of the article and going into further depth later on. Neither of these articles uses this stereotypical writing style. Since they are both sports features, there is an abundance of relevant and trivial information throughout the pieces.
Although they don’t follow it strictly, the important information is given to the reader at the beginning of “Paradorn – a tale of the unexpected”. In the opening paragraph, the journalist has expanded on the heading and outlined the purpose of the article, to inform the readers of the unexpected success of Paradorn. Although the article in ‘Streats’ begins by directly addressing the title, the rest of the article does not follow the pyramidal structure. The opening is very colloquial and it therefore does not present the facts directly to the reader.
In the case of both articles, the readers could get confused while reading as there is no flow between the topics and paragraphs. The paragraphing in the article, “No time for girls” is not very consistent. Paragraphs sometimes change too abruptly and there is no uniformity in the changing of paragraphs. On two occasions, the journalist has put forward indirect questions which Paradorn goes on to answer. On one occasion, he changes the paragraph after the question and in the other instance, the question and the answer are in the same paragraph.
In “Paradorn – a tale of the unexpected”, paragraphs consistently change with progress in time, topic and speech and all paragraphs are well linked. The lexemes in the articles are carefully picked and there are many words that belong to the semantic field of tennis in both articles. They use similar phrases, such as “claimed the scalps”, which is often used in tennis. It is used to describe the way in which he beat the world’s top tennis players. This gives a gruesome image in the readers’ minds, as the phrase originates from the Indians of the USA, who used to kill their enemies and then take their scalp, as a sign of victory.
This is a contrast to Paradorn’s character off the court as he is otherwise portrayed as a gentle and kind man. Apart from many words from the semantic field of tennis, the tabloid article contains many words which are synonyms to the words “class” and “glamour”. There are many repetitions of the words “fame” and “success” which gives an impression that he is basking in his easy climb to fame. Tabloids often approach issues from this view point and tend to sensationalise the topic. They do this to interest the audience and keep their attention.
This viewpoint is a contrast to reality and the other broadsheet article, which portrays Paradorn as a very down-to-earth and subdued person. The words, such as “modest” and “frugal” in the broadsheet article, complement the picture and help to emphasize the modest nature of Paradorn. Being features, both articles are filled with speech. By following the journalistic devices of using reported speech to lead into direct speech, the journalists add effect to the quote and further emphasize the points being made. Most of the quotations are from Paradorn himself, to find out how he feels about his climb to success.
The speech in the tabloid article is printed to look like an interview, with Paradorn answering the indirect questions of the journalist. This makes it very clear to the readers as to what he is addressing. The other article adds quotes where needed and makes good use of reported speech to lead into the quotes. For example, “Paradorn was a model child she said, adding: “He was very polite and respectful to everyone. “” The use of reported speech to lead into quotes is useful to the journalists as they can interpret the speech in different ways to emphasize their viewpoint.
Since they are both published on the same day, one would expect some of the quotations to overlap, but, even when addressing the same subject, the quotes in both articles are different. When asked when he would get married, the tabloid quotes him as saying, “maybe I’ll find one when I’m 30”, but the broadsheet quotes him as saying “I’d say when I reach 30 I’ll think about it”. The article in the broadsheet newspaper says, “His private life has not been fodder for Thailand’s tabloid press though”. This is a very ironic statement as the article in the tabloid newspaper, ‘Streats’, is all about his private life, girls and marriage.
Since the broadsheet article is written by AFP, the local publishers could have taken the idea from that comment and written about his private life. The broadsheet article has a typical layout, with a picture at the top, followed by the text. The tabloid article, however, uses some unusual presentational devices. The sub-heading is placed above the headline for the convenience of the reader and tells them what the article is about. They also add a fact file on the right-hand side so that the reader can have a quick glance at Paradorn’s major achievements.
Apart from this, there is a lot of information within a small area which would help the newspaper save space and therefore, money. It states in the tabloid article that the King is his biggest fan. The picture on the top of the broadsheet article is a picture of Paradorn at the feet of the King of Thailand. This shows that he is still a down-to-earth person despite the “privileges” he gets. His respect for the king is very high and this is emphasized by the fact that he “presented the King with the first international trophy he won” and his falling at his feet.
This picture could be viewed from a different angle. It could imply that he is taking advantage of success and socialising with royalty. The caption says “THE KING AND I: … ” which refers to the picture as well as the famous musical. The picture in ‘Streats’ portrays glamour and class. This article’s focus is on glamour so, it has a picture of him in his new Mercedes Benz. The caption contains an example of typical journalese, “Merc-merising”, which is the fusion of the car brand and ‘mesmerising’. Journalists often blend words with the use of a hyphen to emphasize a point.
An interesting point is that although the publishers are the same, the two pictures come from different sources, one from Reuters and the other from AFP. This could show that the two media giants want to portray different views of Paradorn. The broadsheet article, which portrays the tennis player as homely, concludes by saying that he has a weakness for cars and so, bought a Mercedes. This is a comparison of viewpoints as the focus of the tabloid article is the last paragraph of the broadsheet article.
Considering that only 50% of the readers that read the headline get to the end of the third paragraph of an article, not many readers would get to the last paragraph and therefore, it is clearly not very important to the broadsheet article. Both articles portray very contrasting views of Paradorn Srichaphan. The tabloid portrays a Paradorn of glamour and class, which is contradictory to the broadsheet article as well as to reality. To a majority of tennis fans, Paradorn is really “a tale of the unexpected”. Despite the sudden success, he has remained the homely and down-to-earth Thai boy he was brought up to be!