How one paper manages to turn one photograph into two almost identical stories
As a big upfront admission, I consider myself to be a very keen David Bowie fan, owning 24 of his 25 studio albums (when I was buying them as a teenager pre iTunes, Tin Machine II wasn’t available).
The Daily Telegraph has on its website two articles about David Bowie. The first
published last night ‘Reclusive David Bowie spotted on rare public outing’ and the second
today, ‘David Bowie: singer’s pale appearance reigntires health fears’. The two headlines published so quickly might make you think there was a development in the story…but in reality this isn’t the case.
Sounds sufficiently dull? Well, yes, other than the fact that both articles are non-stories, basically written as a result of one photograph with no actual news and when you apply the inquiring mind of a Chartered Accountant, some interesting facts emerge.
A few stats:
Copying the two articles into MS Word:
The first article is 317 words long, the second is 400 words long.
Comparing the two versions we discover:
39 words were deleted and 122 added.
Of the 122 added; 90 were ‘new’
(see below for detail).
Not wishing to be uncharitable but, the Telegraph appear to be using David Bowie’s name to generate clicks by creating two stories with pretty much identical wording.
Looking at the words added, all we learn is that:
He is reclusive and doesn’t go out much
What he was wearing (in the photograph)
What he was wearing means he doesn’t look like Ziggy Stardust or have a mullet
He hasn’t been very active
He had an operation once
He had a previously succesful career in a number of guises
So basically, they have enhanced the article to ensure that David Bowie sounds like any other pensioner. To be honest it’s quite refreshing for someone to just retire gracefully – this is what most people do and should be celebrated, not to make out he’s a Howard Hughes type figure. If he was a recluse, would he really force himself to go out for a sandwich?
Compare, contrast, combine
I used MS Word’s compare document function and you can see the similarity in structure of the two:
The singer was pictured picking up a take-away lunch from the Bottega Falai Cafe in New York.
Bowie lives in a large Lower-Manhattan apartment with his ex-model wife Iman and daughter Lexi and has been almost invisible
since suffering a major heart attack during a jinxed 2004 tour.
The problems began with a “friendly fire” incident in Norway when a fan threw a lollipop that hit Bowie in the eye, causing him to storm off stage.
A few days later, he cut short another performance, believing he had pinched a nerve in his shoulder.
The muscle pain was due to a clogged coronary artery and at his next gig, in Scheeßel, Germany, he delivered a final encore of Ziggy, went backstage and collapsed.
He resurfaced earlier this year in order to distance himself from an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
More than 60 of the singer’s classic stage outfits, among them his Ziggy Stardust space-traveller suits and the oversized Yamamoto kabuki ensemble, went on view along with hundreds of artefacts including handwritten lyrics and artwork.
Responding to an erroneous report that he would be the co-curator of the show, the polymorphic rocker took to Facebook to deny any direct involvement.
“Contrary to recently published reports relating to the announcement by the V&A of an upcoming David Bowie Exhibition,” he stated, “I am not a co-curator and did not participate in any decisions relating to the exhibition”.
He has not released a studio album for nine years or performed live since 2006. Rumours circulate constantly about his health and his movements.
A controversial biography ‘Mick: the Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger’, released earlier this year by author Christopher Andersen alleged that Mick Jagger and David Bowie were once lovers in the 1970s.
[Sorry couldn’t resist]
Going through the differences, they can be grouped as – additions, deletions, moving sentences, corrections/amendments
on a rare public outing dressed in grey cap and hooded top, bearing little resemblance to the fashion icon of the 1970s
Since recuperating from the heart surgery, Bowie has reduced his musical output, making only one-off appearances on stage and in the studio.
He attended the opening of his son Duncan Jones’ film Moon in 2009 but has made few public appearances since.
65, whose alter egos have included the alien-like Ziggy Stardust and the dapper thin white duke,
He was pictured in New York.
his ill fated
and has been almost invisible.
suffering a major heart attack during a jinxed
Moving Sentences [ +27 -19 = +8]
Rumours about the health of the former heavy smoker and drug addict have been circulating ever
Rumours circulate constantly about his health and his movements.
picking up a take-away lunch from the Bottega Falai Cafe
picking up a takeaway lunch from the Italian Bottega Falai Café
Amendments [+5 – 7 = -2]
a “friendly fire”