Confusing the readers: divergent stories from the same source

Daily Mail and Express front pages: house price stories

Confusing if they see the front pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, that is. Choose between “Is the house price boom over?” and “House prices still soaring” respectively.

These are going in my file of possible examples to look at with students — at first glance, the stories look contradictory. On closer inspection, it’s a matter of emphasis, both using Land Registry figures in different ways: the Mail story concentrates on those for the month of April, while the Express piece looks at the annual increase.

Both angles were fairly clear in the Land Registry source document (PDF here), although the annual 9.1% increase was flagged up more prominently.

One aspect of stories that students sometimes find tricky to pick up, at least to start with, is how a chosen angle might play with readers. Here it’s “welcome news for homeowners” (Express) or “end of the 11-year property boom […] alarm bells sounded […] bubble appears to be bursting […] situation now is likely to be even worse” (Mail).