Analysis of Toyota press release and news report

by Shannon Lee
The first thing that jumped out at me when reading Toyota's press release regarding a safety recall of certain types of vehicles was the use of the phrase "voluntary recall." The news report does not use the word "voluntary." It is a minor difference, but the word can insinuate that Toyota is doing the consumer a favor.
The press release focuses on the mechanics of how the brake fluid may possibly leak a small amount and cause the brake warning lamp to light up. It is not until nearly the end that the release mentions the leak could cause brake performance to decline.
In the Washington Post news article, the reporter announces in the first sentence that some Toyota cars in the U.S. might not be able to quickly stop. The first sentence also reminds readers that Toyota had bad publicity earlier in the year when some of their cars involuntarily sped "out of control," prompting and earlier recall. Toyota's press release, wanting to showcase the company in the best light possible, obviously did not mention that this was their second recall of the year.
The Washington Post reporter also picked out the sentence from the press release that mentioned the brake decline. In the press release, the sentence was located at the end. In the news article, it was quoted in the second sentence.
The reporter included background information on the recalls and used other, more favorable, quotes later in the article. After comparing it to the press release though, it is clear that the reporter wrote the most newsworthy, attention-grabbing content first, while the Toyota press release was worded in a way to make the recall sound less serious.

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This page contains a single entry by Shannon published on October 23, 2010 12:52 AM.

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