- INTISAR SAIF SALIM AL HASHMI
Hard News – Court Drops Murder Charges against Mubarak
Hard news is a term often used by media practitioner or journalists to refer to the fast-paced information that is worth appearing on the newspaper front, usually a headline. This does not mean it is a controversial one, with topics of interest like business, political uprising, new transport system introduction that will reduce traffic congestion and other international news. It is argued that what defines hard news is not about the controversy in the subject matter but rather what some will call fast paced or heavy reports on it that makes it hard news.
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The term hard news is not of scientific and can be traced back to have been first used by the US journalists to classify various types of news. Since then, the two terms have found their way into the academic circles being used in journalism. Schramm (1949) was one of the first people to document the types of news as hard news or soft news.
In this work, the hard news chosen is the acquittal of former president, Hosni Mubarak of murder charges which hit the headlines this week. It was reported in almost all mainstream media in the world and for the purpose of this study, we have picked only the three Omani newspapers; The times of Oman, the Oman Tribune and the Muscat Daily. This news is going to be analyzed in terms of the already set principles that make it newsworthy to be printed in the headlines. These set principles include; timeliness, proximity, impact or consequences, prominence, conflict, human interest.
This is the immediacy of the news item. Because news, become outdated quickly, it is better if a hard news hits the newsstands immediately and it happened in the case in which an Egyptian court acquitted the former president on 29th November 2014 and the following day, the newspapers reported it. This was a timely reporting and on the part of print media.
This refers the closeness of an event to home. The concern of what was going to happen to the former leader, Hosni Mubarak was something of interest to the whole Arab world. Since the beginning of the famous Arab spring, people in the entire region have always focused to the events shaping the politics in the region. This kind of news is closer to Oman and therefore qualifies under the proximity principle.
Impact or Consequences
The impact of his acquittal is seen by many as a miscarriage of justice to the families of those who died in the demonstration that saw the former leader ousted. Others also see it as a relief to his supporters since someone who has led a country peacefully should not be humiliated when he leaves power and they argue he should retire honourably. The consequence of the news serves as a warning to those who think they should shame a president who has devoted his time to lead his people.
This story carried on the three newspapers is about a prominent personality, Hosni Mubarak and Egypt, which is known place with rich historical background ranging from history of ancient education to the Pharaos and the Pyramids. The country is well known for the continuous and persistent demonstrations that hit its cities forcing their president to resign. This news is definitely of interest to many readers.
The newspaper article also shows some kind of conflict between the supporters of the former president and the relatives of those who died. The supporters see the ouster and subsequent humiliation of Mubarak as not worth since there has been no change to the problems facing them and in any case, it has just gotten worse. The bereaved relative on the other hand view this as justice denied by dropping the case of murder against him.
The news is of human interest in the sense that people would like to know how the Egyptian democracy progresses after the ouster of Mubarak and Morsi. In fact, democracy has not been granted to the Egyptians since their democratic leader was dethroned by the military and since then, there have been demonstrations after demonstrations.
Grading of News In Terms of Accuracy, Clarity and Style
The reporters have done this work accurately bearing the power such reports have on the people. This is because what they write can easily influence people’s decisions. They have done it so accurately that what appears in the three papers have no spelling errors. The news also doesn’t mislead the public or distort what the court announced.
Since newspaper reporting is different from an academic writing, it should be brief and to the point. This is because no one has the time to devote to the news except to obtain information. Looking at these news reports, they have been written with the clarity that the journalism approves. The writers seem to have the readers in mind by using simple language, short paragraphs as well as short stories while avoiding no bombastic words.
The designs on the newspapers are done in styles that beckon the reader to buy. They are arranged in layouts that are attractive to the eyes and this has the aesthetic value and ability to kill boredom. It also assures the reader of the value for money when the paper is still on the newsstand. Even though the primary objective is to report the news to the people, the three newspapers have been done artistically that is different from the old type of writing. The different fonts have also been used to appeal to the buyer.
HAND WRITTEN NOTES AND FLOW CHARTS ON MAJOR INFORMATION ON THE THREE NEWSPAPERS.
My own hard news
Hosni Mubarak murder charges dropped by Court
HIS TWO SONS AND 7 COMMANDERS ALSO ACQUITED AS JOY AND JUBILATIONS RETURN TO EGYPT.
MAJAN TIMES REPORTER
An Egyptian court dealt a terrible blow to the relatives of those who were killed during the uprising by declaring that the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak has no case to answer. Mubarak was accused of killing the protesters in 2011 during the uprising which saw the former president tender his resignation to allow the military takeover to manage a transition.
His supporters went into jubilation when the announcement, which also cleared his former interior minister, was made. The judge also noted that charges should not have been preferred against the former leader.
The relatives of those killed were not happy and one by one they started to assemble in the famous Tahrir square to oppose the move. They said this is a blow to the rule of law and miscarriage of justice.
The sons of the former dictator, Alaa and Gamal, were also cleared of corruption charges. When a private radio station contacted him on phone in his hospital room, he remarked, “I did nothing wrong at all. And when the first verdict was read, I laughed.”
Former president Mubarak
The former leader also praised his three decades of rule which was what looked like a police state. There was heavy handedness in his last decade which saw many people with divergent views arrested and imprisoned.
In his ruling, the judge said it was not fair to try him for the charges according to the penal code and insisted that there should have been no charges in the first place.
Mubarak’s lawyer supported the ruling and added, “it is approved the Mubarak’s regime’s integrity”.
This looks like the Arab spring and the efforts to bring democracy has been dealt a terrible blow according to some analysts.
COMPARISONS BETWEEN MY HARD NEWS AND THE NEWSPAPER’S.
One idea per sentence
In the ‘Times of Oman’, the rule of one idea per sentence is adhered to since in the first paragraph, when the reporter writes about the court acquitting the former leader of murder charges on the 800 people killed during the uprising. Also in the second paragraph, he brings two issues but separates the sentences using a comma. This trend continues until the end of the story.
In the Muscat daily, the same trend of one idea per sentence is maintained, separating the Mubarak acquittal, his ongoing imprisonment and the acquittal of his generals and sons.
In the Oman tribune, the reporter maintained the one idea per sentence as we observe him writing about the dropping of corruption charges against the sons and separating it from the acquittal of the military generals so that these two or three ideas do not go into one sentence.
In my own constructed hard news. I have maintained this journalistic requirement by preserving the one idea per sentence rule.
Manageable sentence length (20 – 25) words per sentence
In these three newspapers together with my own story, the sentence length is about 20 – 25 words at most. Though there are some sentences that are shorter than this but all the same, they are still comprehensible.
I have also made sure that my sentences are within the same range of manageable length to avoid giving the readers hard time in comprehending the news.
Subject verb order
The subject verb order is observed in the following instances: in the Oman Tribune, “ I did nothing wrong at all”, (The Oman Tribune 30 November 2014, p. 16) his lawyer Farid Al deeb said that the verdict was a good ruling in that it proved the integrity of Mubarak’s era.
In the Muscat Daily, the sentences are of subject verb order for example, “ the court also acquitted the ex-strongman of corruption charge”, (Muscat Daily 30 November 2014, p. 1) and the same trend can be identified in the whole story including my own version and even in the times of Oman.
Use of strong verbs and active voice
The tribune of Oman uses strong words such as ex-strongman, the Muscat daily also uses the same term but in my story, I avoided this because it may not depict what I really felt about Mubarak. There is a contrast between my view and that of the other reporters as it appears that he was just doing his own job. Without him, Egypt is not any better, it is worse than before.
Use of simple and precise words
There are very simple sentences which can be comprehended by any person who has learnt some English be it as a first or second language. The simple words like. “When I heard the first verdict, I laughed”, Rashidi also acquitted Mubarak of corruption charges for exporting gas to Israel”. (The Oman Tribune 30 November 2014, p. 16).
Similarly, in my own hard news, I have written some short sentences like, “ judge said it was not fair to charge him according to the penal code”
Not more than three prepositional phrases per sentence.
In these writings, like the Oman tribune script, we see sentence such as; “ the court also acquitted the ex-strongman of corruption charge but he will remain in detention because he is serving a three-year sentence in related graft case”. (The Oman Tribune 30 November 2014, p. 16) They are only three in this case.
In same news by the Muscat Daily, I met a sentence like; “seven of his security commanders, including the feared former interior minister Habil al Addy, were acquitted in connection with the deaths of some 800 people killed during the revolt” (Muscat Daily 30 November 2014, p. 1). The same prepositional phases are less than three.
Wilbur S., (1963), “Communication Development and the Development Process,” in Lucian Pye (Ed.) Communications and Political Development, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Roberts, D. F. (Eds.). (1971). The process and effects of mass communication (Rev. ed.). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
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