Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Guardian and Absolute Radio - Journalism Now

Founded in 1821 by John Edward Taylor as the 'Manchester Guardian', the Guardian's original intention was to promote liberal interest following the 'Peterloo massacre' – a gathering of radicals demanding parliamentary reform, whose efforts ended in tragedy after troops cut their way through the crowds, killing 15 people and injuring 500 others.

In 1999 the Guardian 'Unlimited' was launched, essentially serving as the online home of the newspaper. The site provided readers with extensive coverage of all the stories discussed in the main paper. It was not until 2004 that a full online edition of the paper was available. The website encourages interaction from readers with features allowing the audience to sign up and voice their opinions on the stories covered.

The new design was first printed on 25th September 2005 in its new 'Berliner' format. Before the changes, the paper was classified as a broadsheet. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger stated: “The new look Guardian will have colour on every page of every section but one thing will remain the same – our reputation for supplying first class news, features and comment”. The Guardian is part of the GMG (Guardian Media Group) which also includes the Observer.

The Guardian's offline readership is split fairly evenly when it comes to gender. Approximately 53% of readers are male. This equal split in gender is reflected through the adverts contained within the Guardian. For example, the paper advertises technology and sport as well as jewellery and items relating to skincare. In terms of political stance, the Guardian is considered a left wing paper. The Guardian adopts a liberal attitude, meaning it has a belief in liberty and equal rights. It is because of this that the paper would support the idea of gay marriage. Guardian editor Ian Katz confirms the papers stance, admitting: “It is no secret we are a centre-left newspaper”.

The Guardian's front page will nearly always relate in some way to politics or the economy as these are both areas that a large percentage of Guardian readers have a heavy interest in. Further financial news is located towards the back of the paper, discussing market patterns and foreign economies.

The Guardian's online readership is slightly different, particularly in terms of social grade. 63% of offline Guardian readers belong in the ‘AB’ category. Online, this falls to just 36% of readers. These statistics prove that the online readership is more varied in terms of social grade. It is likely that the variety of content featured on the website encourages readers of different social backgrounds to log on. The website features music videos, sports articles, entertainment news and TV highlights. Furthermore, there is a greater mention of celebrity lifestyle and culture on the Guardian’s website which also results in increased social diversity.

Based in London, Absolute Radio is one of the UK's three independent radio stations, broadcasting a variety of music including 80s hits, 90s hits and modern rock. Absolute Radio was officially launched in August 2008 as part of a rebrand by the 'Times of India Group'. The station was formerly referred to as 'Virgin Radio'. When asked why the name had been altered, a spokesperson for Absolute stated: “Our new name, which we own, means we are free to do what we want, and it also says that we're re-inventing ourselves”. 

Absolute Radio's lineup of presenters embody what the radio station is all about. Those involved are fun, humorous and able to make current events accessible and easy to understand for younger audiences. The show includes personalities such as: Christian O'Connell, Geoff Lloyd, Frank Skinner and Ian Wright. Many of these team members, particularly Christian O'Connell, become figures of light-hearted ridicule during the broadcast, mainly during the Breakfast show which develops an informal style similar to that of 'The Chris Moyles Show'. 

Absolute Radio's tone and presentation proves that the vast majority of Absolute's listeners are in their 20s/30s. In terms of social grade, Absolute's audience primarily lie in the BC1 category. The station's YouTube channel in particular targets a younger audience, featuring: humorous interviews with celebrities, live music sets, film news, festival coverage and technology reviews. Furthermore, the advertisements before the news broadcasts (which often last no longer than 4 minutes) reveal more about who's tuning in. For example, adverts for brands and companies such as Best Buy, Samsung and Toshiba are featured repeatedly, targeting an audience that is familiar with the latest gadgets. The overall tone of the station leans towards a young viewership, with puns, jingles and competitions being used to full effect.

A large amount of the stories reported on by Absolute take place within the capital, which is justified as the station is based in London. At the time of writing (September 2010) the student protests have been mentioned repeatedly within the news segments, as have London's hopes to host the 2018 World Cup. Whereas Absolute Radio has paid a great deal of attention to the incident in New Zealand, the Guardian have only given the story a small write-up near the middle of the paper. The Guardian and its readers favour financial and political news so it makes sense that the Irish economy is discussed in depth. Another very recent Guardian front page, for example, looked at the political climate in Korea .

Sources:

1) The Guardian - 'Demographic profile of Guardian readers' - http://www.guardian.co.uk/advertising/demographic-profile-of-guardian-readers


 3) The Guardian's New European Look - http://www.designobserver.com/observatory/entry.html?entry=3757 


My presentation can be accessed in full using the link below:
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