The Guardian versus The Daily Telegraph (columnists)
The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph have very different readerships. While they share the ABC1 demographic, The Daily Telegraph is a heavily Conservative paper (Boris Johnson is columnist) appealing to the middle-aged and middle-class. The Guardian targets a similar age/class group, but is liberal.
The columnists and the comment sections in each paper are also distinct from each other: The Daily Telegraph typically focusses heavily on issues surrounding the UK – politics (read as: the Tory party), the Royal Family, and the EU, while The Guardian generally looks further afield to international stories, or discusses topical issues.
It’s no secret that recently The Guardian has been shifting it’s focus towards it’s online and iPad/iPhone/Android app versions to attract a wider/younger audience, and a greater emphasis has been placed on comment in these formats, leading to an increase of the almost satirical writing style that has been embodied by some of the paper’s most popular columnists.
The Daily Telegraph meanwhile, places less emphasis on comment, in both the hard copy and online, reflecting the serious, objective and matter-of-fact tone of the paper.
To illustrate, I’ll compare John Harris and Peter Oborne, who are prominent columnists for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph respectively.
Stylistically, they are fairly similar; the way in which they write is intellectual and informative, clearly aimed at an ABC1 audience, with the issue(s) and their view(s) being presented in a formal, serious manner, rather than attempting to sensationalise the article.
Generally, the tone of their articles is, likewise, formal, serious and matter-of-fact.
The similarity of Harris and Oborne in these areas, reflects the similar audience/demographic they are targeting; the only real difference between the two columnists is in their political views: Harris lambasts David Cameron and the Conservative party, frequently using negative adjectives to describe them in his articles, while Oborne – even when being critical of the government – refrains from ever being too negative of the Tories.
Both columnists are writing with a purpose; to promote their own political views and to slate the opposition, and their position as comment writers allows them to be more subjective/less impartial and more critical than ordinary news-writers.
It’s also worth mentioning the online/app formats, as they can be almost entirely different to the hard copies.
For example, Guardian columnist, Charlie Brooker, has an entirely different style to that of John Harris. His writing style is funny, sardonic and witty, and evidently aimed at a younger audience. While he still uses language that befits a broadsheet newspaper, his use of swearing and crude metaphors, make his articles unlikely to be featured in the hard copy, but the online/app formats permit him the freedom to say more or less what he likes.
Contrast this to Telegraph columnist, Cristina Odone and the difference is great. Her style is humorous and informal, like Brooker’s, but much cleaner, aimed clearly at an older, perhaps more mature, audience.