W1 Inquiry: Horses for courses: a media style for every purpose

Scenic racecourse
Figure 1: Racing Horses (n.d.) Source: The Yorkshire Dales Trail

Newsworthiness is paramount in today’s media landscape to promote the outlet’s brand, personality and style. As Hicks (2013) explains, the media industry is highly competitive so each piece of media communication must portray the style of the media organisation while adhering to the genre of the media piece. Undertaking a comparative exercise on pieces can highlight these stylistic differences. For example, a comparison between The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory (QCMD) Media Statement (2016) and Davidson’s 2016 article published in the Gold Coast Bulletin Online demonstrates the following variations in style. 

Firstly, considering topic style, Davidson’s piece is reporting on an expectant future announcement “Billy Slater as Queensland’s Thoroughbred Racing Industry Ambassador”. In contrast, the QCMD Media Statement is reporting after the event and is naming “Billy Slater the official ambassador for all racing codes in Queensland.” Interestingly, Davidson reported an incorrect ambassador title. This may be an indication that the Gold Coast Bulletin’s topic style is to risk potential factual inaccuracies in order to be the media outlet delivering the breaking news first. Meanwhile, QCMD’s Media Statement indicates a preference toward the upmost of factual accuracy.

A second point of stylistic difference is the selected authority figure in each piece. QCMD centres the Racing Minister Grace Grace as the authority figure while Davidson highlights Billy Slater as the authority figure. Appealing to audience’s preferred authority figure assists with holding the audience’s attention and building the story’s credibility (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012). Evidently, the Gold Coast Bulletin style values the celebrity appeal of Slater while QCMD’s style appeals to the audience’s connotations to factual information often associated with politicians.

Similarly to the choice of authority figure, pieces need to be written in the style and tone most suitable to the audience. Zero parenthesis or hyphens were used in the QCMD media statement while the newspaper article did utilise them. The parenthesis and hyphens provided a slightly more conversational tone to the article (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2016). The newspaper article also has an increased number of emotive adjectives including ‘maroons legend’, ‘champion fullback’ and ‘massive profile’ that assists the piece with evoking excitement when read. The media release exercises a more restrained approach and often uses more limited adjectives such as ‘high profile’, ‘[has] industry knowledge’ and ‘[has an] affinity with sports fans’.

Finally, stylistic difference can be seen through what each outlet believes to be newsworthy. As both QCMD and the Gold Coast Bulletin ran the pieces, they both believe the story to be newsworthy. However, not many other outlets did. Queensland Racing ran a piece on their website that was almost identical to the QCMD media release and the Herald Sun, ran a story on Slater’s appointment. Queensland Racing uploaded a short clip about Slater’s appointment on their YouTube account attracting, at the time of writing, only 42 views.

From a personal perspective, this story is of only mild interest to me. While I am a cockroach traitor, a proud cane toad supporter and a fan of legend Slater, I understand that Slater is injured and his time with the NRL, as with all NRL players, will need to come to an end at some point. This opportunity may be marking the beginning of the end of Slater’s NRL on-field career. My interest however, did begin to increase in this story after I conducted further research on Twitter. According to Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club, on 6 July, Slater cancelled an appearance due to the recent greyhound racing announcements in NSW – now there is something I consider interesting, potentially controversial, certainly plot-twisting… newsworthy!


Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club [BrisGrey] 2016, ‘NEWS: Release from Racing Queensland…’, Tweet, 6 July, viewed 19 July 2016, https://twitter.com/BrisGreys

Davidson, B 2016, ‘Maroons legend Billy Slater to be announced as ambassador for Qld thoroughbred racing’, Gold Coast Bulletin, 23 June, viewed 14 July 2016, http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/sport/racing/maroons-legend-billy-slater-to-be-announced-as-ambassador-for-qld-thoroughbred-racing/news-story/564befcf1bdd9e78480e832255cdf171

Exelby, N 2016, ‘NRL superstar Billy Slater takes on ambassadorial role for Racing Queensland’, Herald Sun, 24 June, viewed 14 July 2016, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/superracing/qld-racing/nrl-superstar-billy-slater-takes-on-ambassadorial-role-for-racing-queensland/news-story/22e4f2f964d209a39ff88fb4c17a98bc

Racing Horses (n.d.), digital image, The Yorkshire Dales Trail, viewed 19 July 2016, http://www.yorkshiredales-trail.co.uk/wensleydale/middleham/

Racing Queensland 2016, Billy Slater unveiled as Racing Queensland Ambassador, video, 24 June, viewed 14 July 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By5E7n_VM88

Racing Queensland 2016, League Legend Slater unveiled as Ambassador, 24 June, viewed 14 July 2016, http://www.racingqueensland.com.au/Industry-News/2016/June/League-legend-Slater-unveiled-as-RQ-ambassador

The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) 2016, Racing Queensland unveils league legend Slater as official ambassador, 24 June, viewed 14 July 2016, http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2016/6/24/racing-queensland-unveils-league-legend-slater-as-official-ambassador


Author: Hil Sinfield

Business and professional communication specialist.

5 thoughts on “W1 Inquiry: Horses for courses: a media style for every purpose”

  1. Hi Hilary,
    Nice attempt at this inquiry piece, I appreciated how your content flowed logically and your ideas came together to paint a clear picture of your assessment of each media article. As some constructive feedback, I’ve noted some grammatical errors/typos throughout the article, so you may want to review and amend. Great work overall!


  2. Wow – Hilary. Excellent link between theory and practice, and use of references. I picked up a typo (23 Junr) and your very first sentence is a very long ripper. When we get to reviewing and editing, pick that one to see if you can shorten it but retain the meaning. A great start :).


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