For those unfamiliar with current Canadian governmental policy, the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stirred up the abortion issue, both on a national and international level. The G8 initiative to support women’s health and maternal health has hit a stumbling block as the Harper government tried to decide whether it would include abortions as part of the funding package.
The latest headlines generated in this public debate are excellent examples of how the news reports construct a reality to support the values and beliefs of a target audience. Consider the following headlines:
- Globe and Mail – Feminist senator Nancy Ruth tells aid groups to drop abortion fight
- Toronto Star – Senator warns aid groups: ‘Shut the f— up’ on abortion
- Toronto Sun – Grits decry senator’s F-bomb
- CBC – Tory senator to women’s groups: shut up
- CTV – Senator drops F-bomb over G8 abortion controversy
Each news outlet dealt differently with how directly they would quote the senator. Interestingly, while the Star’s headline was the most direct and emotionally charged, it never actually went any further in the article. The Globe and CBC directly quote the senator’s words. CTV and the Sun take their information from the same Canadian Press sources and maintain the same language as in their headlines.
The Star’s more liberal audience welcomed a stronger emotional tone to the article, but the editorial policy kept them from being direct in the article. The Globe and the CBC were a bit cooler in their headlines and tried to be more objective in the tone of their articles. The CTV article’s tone came closer to the CBC’s.
The Sun’s article was the shortest. It refers to the Star specifically in regards to how that paper presented the information. It concentrated on the Liberal Party & their reaction to the Senator’s statements.
Depending on which article you choose to read, you will get a different impression of the event and its significance. A constructed reality playing to specific audiences and shaped by the business interests (advertisers) that support the various news outlets.