Comparative Journalism analysis of The Sydney Morning Herald and VICE News

On March 1, 2019, Queensland drivers will use emojis on their car personalized number plates, The Sydney Morning Herald and VICE News reported the incident. Through the comparison of The Sydney Morning Herald and VICE news stories, we can reveal the differences between the two publications and the different delivery effects of each story

queensland driver will use emojis on mumber plates.
Queensland driver will use emojis on number plates.

On March 1, 2019, Queensland drivers will use emojis on their car personalized number plates, The Sydney Morning Herald and VICE News reported the incident. Through the comparison of The Sydney Morning Herald and VICE news stories, we can reveal the differences between the two publications and the different delivery effects of each story

Biographical Survey

Founded in 1831, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is a daily newspaper from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. SMH is Australia’s oldest continuously published newspaper and national online news brand (Bernard, 2012). According to Glynn (2017), the newspaper’s editorial position is usually a centrist and a representative of Australian neutral news.

VICE News is Vice Media, Inc. The current affairs channel, Vice is a digital media and broadcast company founded in North America in 1994. In 2006, it began to transform the Internet and expand its business to new media, TV channels, movies and music production. Because of the novelty of VICE, it is popular among young (80s and 90s) audiences and is called “the representative of successful new media” by the industry (Mojica, 2014).

Target Audience analysis

According to Alexa and Ad centre Media Kit information and demographic analysis, VICE News is ranked 163th in global influence, geographically distributed, and it has greater influence in Europe and America than in Australia. Although SMH is ranked lower than VICE News in the world, it has a strong influence in Australia (36th) and nearly 70% of users from Australia. The target user group for VICE News is young people aged 18-34. SMH’s Target users’ groups are mainly young and middle-aged people aged 30-60. 

Journalistic writing and content production analysis

 The narrative style of the two articles is slightly different. SMH’s article is a description of the incident and interspersed with questions from experts and police about whether the incident will become an obstacle to vehicle identification and the government’s access to more fiscal revenue.

For example, Queensland Law Society President Bill Pots said that emoji may cause problems with the police’s license plate recognition system, which scans the car and checks if the driver has an unfulfilled guarantee if the vehicle is not registered.

The VICE perspective is also roughly the same, but the narrative style is more ridiculous and humorous, directly expressing that this is something that no one asks for: emoji license plates. When do you want them to add a smiling yellow face to some meaningless letters and numbers? What could be the use of this? Who would be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for such a thing? I do not know. But we got them anyway. This is because the target audience of the two is different and it is more reasonable.

As far as the overall content is concerned, both articles make full use of the online media of these articles, from social media sharing icons are the same, for example, Facebook and Twitter. But there is a key difference in the third icon, SMH uses Instagram more. I think VICE can also consider adding Instagram’s share icon, which is a very popular social software for younger audiences.

In addition, both are derived from the Brisbane Times news, which is clear and concise and succinctly conveys the promulgation of this provision. Therefore, the accuracy is relatively high. SMH and VICE do contain some new information, but do not replace the text color of the subtitles and links, making the clarity slightly worse. Therefore, the color of the subtitle and link text should be distinguished to improve readability.

In the structure of the article, it is described in terms of facts plus evaluation process, which is logical. Specifically, VICE’s head “But the eggplant is not an option.” effectively adds interactivity to the reader. However, SMH’s news story does not attract readers’ subtitles. This is a place that needs to be enhanced. My suggestion It is possible to add “Other people thought it was not a good decision”

Online Delivery Analysis

I analysed a story about getting emojis on number plates published by VICE News and SMH News, while both news story has some parts need to be improved.

First of all, both SMH News and VICE News refer to five kinds of emojis, that is, five cartoon faces familiar to smartphone users will be available, including “lol”, “blink”, “sunglasses”, “heart” and “smile” emojis. That can be used for number plates are mentioned, author should provide effective images links to inform the audience which emoji expressions are specific and improve story narrative.

Moreover, although the news provides the original link to the Brisbane Times, providing specific details of the decision, the author should place the link in the first paragraph of the article, which can improve the user readability and experience.In fact, more relevant symbols, such as “Road Rage” emoji or “Card in M1 Traffic” emoji are not options, and suggest that the digital board should be shorter to accommodate the driver’s emotional state.

In addition, In VICE news, there are underwear advertisements and fund advertisement in the middle of the article which are automatically played.

AU Fund AD
CK Underwear AD

Finally, multimedia content for audience is not good and rich enough, and related videos and screenshots of social platforms are not available, author should make news content as attractive as news title.

Technical Delivery Analysis

According to Bradshaw (2017), the interface between SMH News and VICE News is clear and navigation is easier. Because news storytelling should be universal, in details, it should be accessible to anyone, including readers with limited vision.

In this regard, SMH News is especially intended to pay more attention to readers with impaired vision. Specifically, a technical feature that reflects this is that SMH News uses a text size extension that allows both authors and readers to increase the size of the font. This is a user-centric design with usability. VICE News should learn from this technical feature from SMH News to improve its useability.

As for functionality, some areas of SMH News and VICE News are not as good as expected. As mentioned above, advertising is also an indispensable component of news. Advertising based on the target audience is the most effective means of attracting readers. You can also make your ads profitable.

An effective connection will be a win-win situation. I suggested that SMH News and VICE News advertisements should be replaced with advertisements about cars and emojis’ products, respectively.


Based on the above analysis, it is clear that the articles of SMH News and VICE News have their own advantages and disadvantages, and there are places to learn from each other.

Word Count: 1530


Ad Centre. (2018). The Sydney Morning Herald Media Kit. Retrieved from

Alexa. (2018). Traffic Statistics.

Bernard, L. (2012).  Breaking: News and hearts at the Herald. Global Mail. Digital Global Mail Limited.

Bradshaw, P. (2017) Chapter 5 ‘Writing for Social Media & Chat Apps’. In The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. 2nd ed. Oxon, New York.

Glynn, I. (2017). Asylum Policy, Boat People and Political Discourse: Boats, Votes and Asylum in Australia and Italy: “the generally centrist Sydney Morning Herald”.

Mojica, J. (2014).  About Vice News.


About Glynnis Wang 4 Articles
Glynnis is a USYD Postgraduate student majored in Digital Communication and Culture. Please contact her @GlynnisWang on Twitter.

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