Doing a similar thing tonight to what I did a few weeks back when the fees riots first broke – looking at the first line of each paper’s story.
Also a quick shout out to tonight’s man of the moment – Mutt Dunham of the Associated Press. His picture of Prince Charles and Camilla being attacked is on the front of three of the papers – the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph.
The Guardian – “Charles and Camilla caught up in violence after student fees vote” I am genuinely amazed at this headline and story. The first line is: “A car containing Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, was attacked last night as a wave of protest swept through central London in the wake of a Commons vote to force through a trebling of university tuition fees for students in England.” In journo terms, therefore, the key piece of information – the thing you put first – is Charles and Camilla. I would expect this from the Times and the Telegraph (see below) but the Guardian is meant to be on the left. If they were going to do it they should have at least had a better title (“Off with his head” or something like that)
The Times – “Assault on the capital” First line “Months of violent public disorder lie ahead, police leaders warned last night, as another day of protest against rising tuition fees descended into confrontation on the streets of London.”
Amazingly this first sentence doesn’t even mention the vote, merely the protest against the plans. It has a very clear public disorder focus and the use of “violent” as the third word leads the reader away from sympathising with the protesters.
The Telegraph – “Rioters attack Prince in car”
“The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall came under attack from student protesters last night as their car was caught up in riots over the rise in tuition fees.”
Like the Times above this first line doesn’t explictly mention the vote in the Commons, though it alludes to it quite strongly. The decision to go with the Prince of Wales as the primary focus for the piece would have been much easier for an openly Royalist paper like the Telegraph than for the Guardian
Independent – “Victory – but at what price” First line: “In the Commons, the vote is won. But outside, the tuition fee battle still rages” See the transformation of the protesters from being the perpetrators as “violent public disorder” (Times) to “battlers” and how this reflects the political persuasion of the paper.