Final Written Assignment Version 2
News stories are covered several times and most of us do not even realize it. Although more recently many people get news in more similar mediums such as on the Internet because of the decline of newspapers. “Since 1940, the total number of daily newspapers has dropped more than 21 percent” (McIntosh and Pavlik, 119). Many times we do not realize the same story we read online was covered on our local news station and in our local newspaper, even further than that this same story is being covered in many news stations, newspapers, and news sites all over the country and even the world. So what makes these stories different?Each time you read a news story from a different source something different happens to it. The different views and frames used by the source gives the reader a different take every time. I saw that first hand in my two stories. In my project I compared the same story of Mya Lyons, a nine-year old girl who was stabbed to death.
The first place I found this story was on Fox news station which led me to look in my alternative new source, the Chicago Defender. The Chicago Defender is a Chicago newspaper that is a century old. The Defender is an African-American newspaper. On May 5 1905, The Defender was founded in the kitchen of Robert Abbott. It originally was a four page editorial piece made by local items Abbott found around the area and only had a circulation of about 300 copies selling for twenty-five cents each. As the years went on the Defender slowly grew into a major outlet for the feelings of the African-American community, being know for its outspokenness through attacking white oppression and defending equality for African-Americans. The Defender, in its prime, featured poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes along with pieces by many other writing legends. Since then the newspaper has evolved into a daily newspaper that as recently as 2009 was recognized as the most influential newspaper of its kind in the early and mid-20th century. Although in recent years the paper has declined. It was recently purchased by Real Time Inc. that intends to continue the original intent of the paper, to appeal and inform the African-American community as well as help the paper expand in the future (Chicago Defender history dates back over a century).
The demographic for the Defender is quite small and concentrated compared to other newspapers especially in the Chicago area. Having a target audience be a specific ethnic group has a lot to do with this. The Defender has an estimated ten thousand circulation. Different than my mainstream source the Defender is more often read in its original tabloid form rather than online where it is advertised that thousands of views everyday. But the Defender is sound on its target audience and medium. They have no thoughts of changing that. Supporting its decision of audience through several statistics about the buying power of African-American, specifically the over one million in the Cook County area of Chicago alone (2011 Marketing Profile).
The Chicago Defender had an article entitled “Father in custody in daughter’s slaying”, discussing the recent unfolding events regarding the murder of a nine-year old Mya Lyons in 2008. On January 18th 2011 Richard Lyons, Mya’s father, was taken into custody for the slaying of his daughter. On the night of the murder according to the article Mya was stabbed in the neck and the abdomen. She was found by her father in critically injured lying in a nearby alley and then was driven to the hospital. More than a year later, Mr. Lyons was taken into custody with suspicions on being apart of the murder but no charges were filed against him at the time. Along with being put in custody the father’s house and van were also taking in order to thoroughly search the premises again.
The Defender article from the beginning pointed that the main source of their information was the relatives of the Lyons family. Being given a photo of Mya courtesy of the Lyon family, even before you read the article the reader get the sense that this story was directly connected to the family involved. They go on to demonstrate this in the article through phrases such as “told to the Defender by relatives” or “Mrs. Lyons told Defender reporter”. Featuring quotes such as, “The father of Mya Lyons was arrested Monday afternoon in the fatal stabbing of the 9-year-old more than two years ago, relatives told the Defender” (“Father in custody in daughter’s slaying”).
The second place I found this story was in my mainstream media source, Chicago Sun Times. The Chicago Sun Times is a highly noted and respected newspaper in Chicago, being among the leading newspapers in the Chicago areas, it is owned by Sun Times Media Group. Sun Time Media Group owns over 20 newspapers in the Chicago area and even some in Indiana. The Sun Times is the oldest and most prestigious papers out of the group. The Chicago Sun Times is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the area having roots that date back to 1844. The official Chicago Sun Times was launched in 1948 when two previous newspapers merged the Morning Chicago Sun and the Evening Times, which was rumored to be founded by Catherine O’ Leary in 1844. Today the Sun Times is one of the most circulated papers in the United States. Putting out over three hundred thousand copies daily including a special Sunday edition the Sun Times over the years has become a main source of news for the city of Chicago and the surrounding areas (Chicago Sun-Times).
The Sun Times has a very diverse demographic not only being read in the traditional way, on paper, but also online which get numerous hits every single day. The Sun Times readers are wide and diverse having a 47 to 53 percent ratio of women to men readers and the similar occurrence with age starting with college students and slow decreasing after that (DEMOGRAPHICS).
The Sun Times had an article entitled “Dad arrested in girl’s 2008 slaying”, similar to the other article it discussed Mr. Lyons being put into custody by the Chicago police department as well as the murder two years prior. But it does feature differences also. The Sun Times gives more detail of the night of the murder itself. According to sources given to the Sun Times Mya Lyons was found by her father lying in the alley only five doors down from her father house. When found she was driven to the hospital along by her father along with her uncle, a nurse, who attended to her. The Sun Time also informs readers that Mya at the time of the murder was being cared for by her father who held custody of her during the summer.
Another difference the Sun Time has is its explanation of how Mr. Lyons became a suspect. One example of this was stating Mr. Lyons along with his brother were asked and issued a lie detector test along with this the two brothers also gave a sample of DNA immediately after the murder. The Sun Time article also stated that the original suspect a “junk man” known to be in the alley the night of the murder was ruled out by police shortly after the murder (Dad arrested in girl’s 2008 slaying). The article also uses words like “allegedly” and “at the time” that starts to put doubt into the father’s story unlike the other article that seemed to sway the other way. “At the time, Lyons told police he found his daughter’s body in the alley, put her in a van and drove her to Jackson Park Hospital, while his uncle, who is a nurse, tended to her in the back” (Dad arrested in girl’s 2008 slaying). To further add to the doubt of Mr. Lyons case the article mentions that the haste to hired an attorney after being threatened by authorities. Another difference between the Sun Time and Defender article was the inclusion of Mya life. For example, how she dreamed of being a nurse and ends the article talking about the vigils for her. “In 2009, Lyons and other family members gathered to remember Mya, who adored anything pink — the brighter, the more glittery the better — and dreamed of one day being a doctor or nurse” (Dad arrested in girl’s 2008 slaying).
The Defender article also presents several different facts compared to the Sun Times article. First, being the inside into Mrs. Lyons thoughts and feelings about the case. “Mrs. Lyons said she’s received profanity-laced phone calls since her husband’s arrest” (“Father in custody in daughter’s slaying”). The Defender article also reveals that weeks after the murder a knife with blood was recovered near the crime scene. “Two days after the funeral, a knife was found near where Mya was found. A cleaning crew discovered a kitchen-style knife with a six-inch blade that appeared to have blood on it” (“Father in custody in daughter’s slaying”). Although this piece of evidence led to no suspects it was not even brought up in the other article. Another piece of information presented was an apparent lay suit filed by Mr. Lyons before his arrest. According to the Defender Mr. Lyons filed a law suit against the Metra train company for a mismanaged area near the crime scene. Apparently the poorly lit premises of the Metra along with overgrown weeds and a vacant lot allowed for the murderer to escape according to Mr. Lyons.
The Sun Times article legitimizes itself in a different way then the Defender article. First, unlike the Defender the Sun Times article legitimizes itself by its use of several sources. By using sources such as the police, Mr. Lyons, and Mrs. Lyons this article was able to provide a more rounded view of the events that have taken place than the Defender article that primarily used the family as a source that more likely holds bias in the situation. Along with the use of sources the Sun Time article also legitimizes itself to its audience by giving a more detail than the Defender article giving more detail about the night of the murder along with the events that took place now. Through multiple sources and more detail the Sun Times gives the reader a well-balanced look into the events. Similar to the Defender article this can be contributed to the audience. The Sun Time has more diverse readers than the Defender which makes their stories have to have more depth and angles. In order for the Sun Times article to appeal to its diverse audience its articles must show different prospective and ideas in order to appeal to everyone.
The Defender uses a different approach it uses its specific audience and focuses on what they would like to read. The Defender being a small more intimate paper dedicated to informing African-Americans about events in their community used this article to show the audience the tragedy of violence in the African-American community as well as possibly another example of authorities accusing African-American males of being criminals. These views are common problems for the audience of the Defender so they capitalized on showing them in this article. The theme of an interview with was not only with the relatives but also Mya’s mother, Latrice Lyons is very important to this article. This interview in many ways is used as a legitimizing tool for the article. The several direct quotes from Mrs. Lyons are used to propel the story forward and give the reader a different and more direct sense of the story. This was different from the other article. By using the views of people directly involved the Defender makes the reader believe the information being given and allows them to see that the family supports Mr. Lyons and believe that he has nothing to do with the murder. This is a view you would not get otherwise. Another legitimizing tool used by the Defender is the use of a detailed timeline. In the Defender article a timeline is given to the reader spanning from the murder to the arrest. This legitimizes the piece by giving it a sense of specific detail that answers many questions held by the reader about the two-year span between the murder and the arrest of Mr. Lyons. This timeline along with the in-depth details of how the family was dealing with the events gives the article something I have not seen in any other coverage of the story.
Both the Defender and the Sun Times do a good job of legitimizing and giving the reader facts. But I believe the Sun Times did this is in a better way then the Defender. I believe this for a couple of reasons. First, although both of these newspapers seemed to keep up with this story before and after this specific part developed and have several stories dating before and after these articles were published that are linked in the article such as “Vigil to be held today in remembrance of Mya Lyons”, Girl’s father charged in her ‘horrific’ death”, “Dad stabbed daughter 30 times in van, prosecutors allege”, and “Father charged with stabbing daughter, 9, to death in 2008”. I believe that the Sun Times did a better job in keeping up with the article and making all the facts accessible the reader. You can see this by the numerous links made of the article pages whereas on the Defender site I actually had to search.
Another reason I prefer the Sun Times article is because of the job they did on use of sources and use of frame. Although I do appreciate the closeness the Defender created by actually interviewing the family and using direct quotes they acquired, I believe in a story like this the more perspectives the better. In many ways the frame of a close and intimate look into the family held the article back. The Defender took a very bias and choppy approach by over showcasing the family’s view which is not the most reliable. This also created a censored in their story because they were unable to say anything incriminate Mr. Lyons and left our facts that would make it look that way to flow with the statements by the family. This was different in the Sun Times article that did show the more bias views of Mr. and Mrs. Lyons but balanced it with police prospective as well.
The last and one of the most important reasons that convinced me about the Sun Times article was the inclusion of Mya. By this glimpse of Mya in the article, in displaying some of her goals and characteristics the article was able to achieve a sense of sympathy for the true victim instead of her accused father. The Sun Times article unlike the Defender left the reader with a sense of less bias infirmity as well as compassion. Even through the inclusion of President Obama the Sun Times showed how regardless of her killer an innocent nine-year old child was brutally stabbed and murdered. This is something I feel the audience should be presented with especially because of the location of it relative to the readers.
Overall I enjoyed both articles. Both the Sun Times and the Chicago Defender showcased numerous facts to the reader about the events that took place. But it was the approach that set them apart. The Defender took a more intimate approach through interviews and direct quoting. But in many ways this hindered them in giving a fully accurate story, leaving out certain aspects that could incriminate Mr. Lyons. This ultimately made the believability of the article to suffer. This led me to believe the Sun Times article was more convincing. Through several sources and a more thorough writing of the events the Sun Times was able to achieve a well-rounded article that left the reader with facts as well as emotion.