Comparison of the Emotional Impact of News Stories in Quality Papers and Popular Papers

Analysing Print Media

Term Paper, 2005

18 Pages, Grade: 2,0



1. Introduction: The emotional language in news stories

2. Overview of news values

3. The principles of inferencing
3.1. The principle of proximity
3.2. The principle of animacy
3.3. The principle of rank and number
3.4. The principle of emotion-related evaluation
3.5. The principle of intensity of presentation
3.6. The principle of emotional content

4. Basic, secondary and norm-related emotions

5. Emotional language in quality and popular papers in comparison
5.1. Quality paper: Interpretation of a news story from The Guardian
5.2. Popular paper: Interpretation of a news story from News of the World

6. Conclusion: Evaluation of the comparison

7. References

8. Appendix

1. Introduction: The emotional language in news stories

Many articles one reads in a newspaper have an emotional impact on the addressee. This impact can involve the public in general or only a limited part of the readership. For instance a headline like One of these players will be axed (from News of the World, September 4, 2005) will probably not effect the whole British readership but only a part of it, namely those who are interested in soccer. They might be sad that players of their favourite team will be dismissed.

(Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 307)

But how is it possible for a news story to cause emotions in the reader? In my term paper I am going to describe the system which is responsible for the emotional impact of news stories. Afterwards I will go on to give a short overview of the different kinds of emotions which can be evoked. My next section will take us to the main concern of this paper: the comparison of quality and popular papers regarding their emotional impact. I will analyse a news story from The Guardian which is one of the British quality papers. Then I will have a detailed look at a news story from the British popular paper News of the World which deals with the same issue. I will try to find out which of both the papers arouses more or greater emotions in the reader and what means they use to achieve that. What are the different ways in which emotions are approached in the two kinds of newspapers?

In my conclusion I will evaluate the comparison and make an effort to answer the question asked before.

2. Overview of news values

News values, which are also often called newsworthiness, are different criteria that are the reason why events are registered as news. These maxims are also practical guidelines given to journalists.

Johan Galtung and Mari Ruge present a list of news values which is most widely used. Only the first five of the ten items are emotionally relevant. The complete list of news values is provided in Figure 1:

(1) Volume / Treshold
(2) Proximity / Meaningfulness
(3) Reference to persons
(4) Reference to elite nations / people
(5) Reference to the negative
(6) Predictability / Consonance
(7) Unambiguity
(8) Recency / Frequency
(9) Continuity of the topic
(10) Composition of the newspaper

(Figure 1. Overview of news values)

It is a fact that the more an event satisfies the ten criteria mentioned, the more likely it will be registered as a news.

As I have said before, only the first five values are emotionally relevant.

Volume means that the bigger or the more violent an event is, the more likely it is to be reported. And consequently the emotional impact is stronger when thousands of people die by an earthquake as when ‘only’ three people lose their lives.

Proximity stands for the fact that familiar and culturally similar events are expected to be noticed with more interest than events far away. People are much more concerned about a catastrophe in their home country, for instance Germany, than about the same disaster in India.

Reference to persons means that news stories, which provide a named person or a collectivity, will be noticed more likely.

Reference to elite nations / people is an important news value because elite nations are of general interest and elite people create identification. An elite person can offer the ordinary reader an opportunity to raise him-/herself above the level of everyday life.

Reference to the negative means that negative news seem to be more preferred by the readership than positive news.

These five news values are important for the understanding of the system which is responsible for the emotional impact of news stories. This system are the principles of inferencing and some of these principles are based on a certain news value.

(Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 310-313)

3. The principles of inferencing

The principles of inferencing are “linguistic output strategies which are used in news stories to trigger the intended emotional reaction” (Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 313). We differentiate between six principles and in my following subsections I will explain them and have a look at the strategies they use to cause emotions.

3.1. The principle of proximity

Proximity can be created by using the us-vs.-them contrast. This means the use of personal pronouns, locative adverbs and tense forms expressing the immediate present time. For instance the headline Our musician has won the contest creates proximity because of the personal pronoun our. And the same counts for Schröder is here in Rostock. The locative adverb here produces proximity to the intended readership.

Furthermore the use of first names and diminutive forms render proximity. An example could be a headline like Angie übertrumpft ihre Gegner.

Endearing forms of address have the same effect: Darling Jack, do it once more.

The use of kinship terms (e.g. mother) is also an important strategy of this principle.

To summarize it, one can say that the news story has its focus on everything what is close to the reader. This also includes geographical closeness but more often the notion of cultural familiarity.

(Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 313-315)

3.2. The principle of animacy

This principle is based on the news value reference to persons.

The principle of animacy relates to the fact that emotional response is reserved for animate beings, exclusively human beings. And the human life contains some stages which have a much greater emotional impact than others. Of course death and catastrophes belong to these stages. But also weddings, birth and anniversaries are stages of life that arouse emotions but they are of a positive sort. Because of these either negative or positive stages of human life this principle is also called ‘life and death principle’. If a negative stage is presented one often comes across ‘disaster’ vocabulary like murder or kill. (Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 315)

3.3. The principle of rank and number

Number means that the emotional impact of a news story about human death is stronger when the amount of people involved, for instance, in a tragedy increases. This is based on the news value Volume/Treshold.

Rank could be the ranking of champions and losers in a sport contest. But in a wider sense also social rank and power are meant. The latter aspect is related to the news value reference to elite persons.

Linguistic triggers of this principle are numerals and other quantity expressions in the text. And also titles which express a social position like lady or earl.

(Ungerer in Niemeyer/Dirven 1995: 315-316)

3.4. The principle of emotion-related evaluation

This principle can be divided into two stages:

(1) A first assessment if something is to be judged as positive or negative.
(2) The kind of emotion which is involved is further specified.

The first stage covers the news value reference to the negative but goes further. There are many linguistic triggers for this stage. These are most obviously adjectives and adverbs which express a positive or negative evaluation (e.g. good/bad). Another kind of trigger are adjectives that do not offer an explicit evaluation but suggest that an evaluation is necessary. These are for example adjectives expressing dimensions like huge and small or adjectives expressing physical properties like strong. Also adverbs like fortunately belong to that group of triggers.

Also common in newspapers is the use of the reaction signals yes and no.

But the most important kind of linguistic triggers for the first stage of the principle of emotion-related evaluation are the loaded words. These are verbs and nouns with positive or negative connotations. For example words like terror or bandit belong to that group. We differentiate the loaded nouns between ‘event-related’ nouns and ‘person-related’ nouns. The first group is closely related to verbs and includes many instances of conversion like horror – to horrify. A word like freedom-fighter belongs to the second group.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Comparison of the Emotional Impact of News Stories in Quality Papers and Popular Papers
Analysing Print Media
University of Rostock
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
7002 KB
comparison, emotional, impact, news, stories, quality, papers, popular, analysing, print, media
Quote paper
Rebecca Mahnkopf (Author), 2005, Comparison of the Emotional Impact of News Stories in Quality Papers and Popular Papers, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Comparison of the Emotional Impact of News Stories in Quality Papers and Popular Papers

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free