Newspaper article (pp. 15-18) 1 Getting started: Basics about newspaper articles (p. 16)


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Text analysis: A Non-fictional texts

Newspaper article (pp. 15-18)

2.1 Getting started: Basics about newspaper articles (p.16)

a) According to the information given in the table above, what kind of newspaper article is the article you read at the beginning of the chapter?

It's a news story with a slight touch of human interest.

2.2 Structure (pp. 16-17)

a) Briefly sum up the article from above, published in The Guardian on 14th May 2002.

The article written by Steven Morris and Rebecca Smithers and published in The Guardian on 14th May 2002 is a

news story that deals with both public and private reactions to a court sentence. Patricia Amos, mother of two

teenage daughters, has to serve a prison sentence because she failed to make her daughters attend school


Whereas the education secretary and some officials approve of the sentence, many voices reject this harsh


b) Analyse the structure of the article. Fill in the chart.

Use general terms



wh-questions are answered, followed by two different public reactions to the sentence

prison sentence for mother whose daughters did not attend school regularly;

views: education secretary is pleased, teacher at girls' school considers the sentence too severe


background information on case history

legal matters outcome

two years of truancy, warnings by social workers in vain;

new laws applied in Amos' case;

£2,500 fine and three months in jail possible; Amos pleads guilty and goes to prison


angry reaction from Amos' family, especially her oldest daughter

reasons for truancy = grandmother's death; punishment unfair; comparison with criminals walking free


two statements by education officials who consider the sentence too severe

county councillor responsible for schools and principal of girls' schools

II. 32-34

higher official on county level approves of the sentence

duty to educate young people, punishment only as a last resort

II. 35-36

truancy as a problem on national level

truancy on the government's agenda, new measures introduced

II. 37-43

comment by education secretary

insist on parents' responsibility


teachers are divided: they agree and disagree

prison for parents is no solution to the problem, acceptable in extreme cases

2.3 Stylistic devices (pp. 17-18)

a) Analyse the stylistic devices and their effect on the reader. Look for alliterations and assonances. In 11.6-15 and 1.26 the passive is used. Can you explain the effect?


assonance "hail" and "jail"

Emphasis, connotation "hail" = old fashioned greeting in contrast to negative connotation of "jail". This device distorts the minister's reaction to the sentence since it suggests a more enthusiastic welcome.


alliteration "anger" and "as"

Emphasis: the open vowels might reflect an outcry.


alliteration "to tackle truancy"

Emphasis: harsh sound

l.9 l l.12-13 l.15 I.26

"Magistrates [. . .] were told" "a parenting order [...] was taken out against Amos" "Amos [. . .] was prosecuted" "her mother had been jailed"

The use of passive voice hints at anonymity. Mrs Amos' opponents remain unknown. The use of the passive voice stresses Amos'

helplessness facing the law. This arouses sympathy in the reader.

b) Examine the way the journalist presents the different views on the sentence. Can you detect a bias? Follow the steps below.

Step 1: First look at the groups of advocates and critics of the sentence. Compare their status and their approach.

High-ranking officials like the education secretary and the chief education officer only see the general aspects of the Amos case. In their mind, the prison sentence sets a warning example for all parents whose children do not attend school regularly. They do not know the family and completely ignore the difficult circumstances of a single parent raising five children.

Persons who reject this harsh sentence focus on the individual case because they know the family. This group includes the girls' teachers and headmaster. They affirm the family's outrage and see it as justified. Thus the reader's empathy with the family makes him side with the opponents of the sentence.

Step 2: Then look at the use of direct and reported speech.

In the presentation of views disagreeing with the sentence, direct speech (i.e. quotes) predominates, thus creating a more direct appeal, whereas the advocates' statements are mostly given in reported speech, thus revealing a distance.

Sfep 3: The text offers the reader detailed information about the case. What effect do the details have on the reader? Fill in the list below.



living with grandmother, five children by three fathers

— ^difficult circumstances, family problems: evoke understanding, compassion

Amos hates jail, wants to return home

-carouses reader's empathy

girls' school has low attendance record (problems of truancy)

-»suggest the sentence is meant as a warning example, ignoring the individual circumstances

truancy on the government's agenda, £66m anti-truancy

package, failure to reduce truancy (50,000 pupils play truant in England every day)

— ^effective government proved at a family's expense

© Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart 2006 j

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