The two texts are multi modal online newspaper articles on the murder of Reeva Steenkamp by Oscar Pistorius. Text 1 “Pistorius as mysterious as the shooting tragedy” is from the Daily Republic and is written on 25th February 2013 by Gerald Imray who is working with The Associated Press. Text 2 “Oscar Pistorius case: The Blonde is the victim here, Blade” from the Telegraph is by journalist Allison Pearson. Whilst both texts are told in a first person view, Text 1 defends the South African Paralympian, whilst Text 2 is very judgmental and disapproving towards Pistorius. Unlike Text 2, which is written in a conversational style to include the reader into the story, Text 1 gives a more personal insight and a different side of the famed Paralympian. The purpose of both texts is to persuade the audience to the writer’s own perspective regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Reeva Steenkamp and whether the tragedy is the murder itself or the portrayal of the Paralympian’s fall from grace is the focus of this issue. Text 1 supports Pistorius and portrays him in a positive light whereas the writer of Text 2 is condemning Pistorius for the death of model Reeva Steenkamp.
The headlines of the two articles play a crucial role to indicate the writers’ tone and thoughts on Pistorius and the “mysterious tragedy”. The headline “Pistorius as mysterious as the shooting tragedy” provides the reader with a simile comparing the runner and the “tragedy”, the Gerald Imray specifically does not use the words “death” or “murder” when discussing this issue. In addition, the word “tragedy” underscores that the murder was accidental and not intentional. “Oscar Pistorius case: The Blonde is the victim here, Blade” is the title of the article by Allison Pearson from The Telegraph, the plosive diction in the headline may indicate the sound of a gun, the gun that Pistorius used to kill Reeva Steenkamp. The “Blade” is a sardonic play on words since it has a connotation of an instrument of death and his nickname. Moreover, the word “victim” towards the “Blonde” (Reeva Steenkamp) emphasizes that Blade is guilty of the death of Steenkamp. In detaching the word ‘Blade” from the headline through the use of the comma, the colloquial style feels as if Pearson is speaking directly to Oscar Pistorius himself.
Since these articles are both multimodal texts there are graphic visuals of Oscar contained in the following extracts. Text 1 includes two identical pictures of Oscar Pistorius in the beginning and end of the article of him looking grateful and appreciative for his win at the 2012 Summer Olympics. His hands are held together as if he was in prayer and it accentuates the humility and humble nature of his. The repetition of the same image at the end of the text reinforces Imrays’ argument. In contrast to the two graphic images of Pistorius, Text 2 includes one central graphic image, right under the subheading with him looking forlorn and it seems that a spotlight is shining on him, informing the audience that he is the topic of the newspaper article. Due to the fact that the blades are not visible in the image Pistorius is portrayed not as a Paralympian, but as a man on trial. Thus stripping him from his demi-god status. The frequent use of similes, metaphors, rhetorical questions and emotive diction help convince the readers to affiliate with the writers. In Text 1, the writer stated that the media “Painted him as a man prone to anger and violence” the “painted him” metaphor is used to persuade the reader that the media are just creating fictitious fabrications. The contrast of Pistorius “in a hood” before and after the death of Steenkamp accentuates how his life has been turned “upside down” and permits the audience to feel sympathy for him. Likewise, it could possibly indicate how this tragedy has changed him and evokes pity for Pistorius. For the whole of the extract, only positive diction and euphemism is used to describe the “easygoing, charismatic” Pistorius, showing the writers’ frame of mind and sets the tone. Gerald Imray gives Pistorius a voice and is an active supporter of Pistorius as he fills the article with only positive diction to show Oscars’ reputable traits.
On the other hand, Text 2 has a derisive and cynical tone, which is shown through the comparison “Oscar Pistorius’s story has more holes than a colander. I don’t feel an ounce of pity for him” The phrase “I don’t feel an ounce of pity” measures the lack of pity she feels for him. The constant use of “I” in the text indicates that this text is a personal one and that Allison Pearson speaks for herself, not for anyone else. Pearson uses rhetorical questions successfully throughout the article. “If you have just shot dead the woman you love, what do you do?” This line was specifically allocated in the very beginning of the text before any information about Pistorius and the “murder” is shown. This allows for the reader to unconsciously agree with the writer, before they can make a judgment.
Puns and hyperboles, such as his act was “Oscar Winning” and “the soothing land of PR euphemism” helps mock Pistorius and belittles him. The “Oscar Winning” phrase is from his name and Pearson is praising Pistorius for his irreproachable “act”, yet there is a satirical and mocking connotation within the phrase. The writer skillfully utilizes quotes from the supporters of Pistorius, and uses it to contradict them. For example, Arnold Pistorius stated, “The lives of our entire family have been turned upside down for ever by this unimaginable human tragedy and Reeva’s family have suffered a terrible loss.” Pearson subsequently follows this up with a full paragraph explaining the quote, turning the quote to support her instead of Pistorius. This powerfully persuades the reader into thinking that Pistorius is guilty.
Text 1 only provides the audience with a limited amount of content; such as personal accounts of Pistorius, previous achievements and emotional comments to evoke sympathy. Since there are no cold hard facts incorporated in the extract, it limits the influential power of the text. For instance, the strawberry incident with the little girl when he “was unfazed by the interruption” and “pretended to eat the strawberry” shows the love he has for his fans, even if they may be trivial “little girls”. The writer of Text 1 gives Pistorius a likable character by using positive diction like “a familiar face smiling at me” stating how Pistorius greets Imray with warmth and affability, making him more amiable. This grants the audience to doubt the media and the incrimination of Pistorius. Contrasting with Text 1, Text 2 includes much more content and has bountiful amounts of support to back up Pearson’s claim that Oscar Pistorius is guilty of the “murder” of Steenkamp. As well as the constant sarcastic comments by Pearson, she incorporates the example of OJ Simpson, quotes from different sources including Pistorius himself and details on the actual murder. The vast depth of this article allows the reader to trust Allison Pearson much more than Gerald Imray. Pearson grants all the small details, like the PR mans name, “Stuart Higgins”, the dates of all trials, and even the number of gunshots. This gives an impression that her information is much more reliable then that of
The structures of both texts are very distinct and separate. Text 1 opens with two different moments when Imray encountered Pistorius, before and after the trial. This is placed in the beginning to show the runners fall from fame, thus evoking pathos and sympathy from the audience. After, the readers see Pistorius in the writer’s perspective, showing a different interpretation. Imrays’ commentary contained Pistorius’s past achievements to show his brighter days and to compare how this “terrible terrible tragedy” had a disastrous consequence on the “South African national champion.” On the other hand, Text 2 commences with a rhetorical question, followed by quotes and facts to support Allison Pearson’s antipathetic outlook on Oscar Pistorius. Similarly, Pearson uses a quote and comment method whereby she constantly gives an example and backs it up with an assertion. This technique effectively presents her information and argument clearly.
To conclude, even though both articles are on the same topic they are advocating different sides and their structure, tactics, selection of material, are very different. I feel that Text 2, “Oscar Pistorius case: The Blonde is the victim here, Blade” article by Allison Pearson is much more successful at convincing the readers to agree with her acerbic viewpoint. Rather than just giving personal incoherent examples, Text 2 is filled with facts and supporting information. Through the various use of rhetorical questions, solid facts and figures, satirical comments and other tactics, Pearson has successfully the audiences favor.