The front page of the Washington Post’s website on September 27, 2012 shows a bias towards a more liberal demographic. Some of the headlines such as: “Medicare issue boosts Obama in 3 swing states,” “At Romney’s would-be church in D.C., ‘47 percent’ fill pews,” and “Republicans’ real problem” show this bias. Instead of choosing more stories that are more favorable to the Republican candidate, the Post chose stories that do not put Governor Romney in the best light. Some keywords and phrases that give this bias away in these articles about Governor Romney are: “sweeping changes,” “undercutting,” “blunts,” “controversial,” and “unfavorable.” “Sweeping changes” is not something that the elderly, or even those who are middle aged ever want to hear about Medicare. “Undercutting,” or cutting away at the base, is a negative word placed where a more positive word could have been used. This is the same for “blunts” and “controversial.” All three of these words create a mental picture for the reader that is not a positive one. The keywords and phrases used to describe Governor Romney contrast with those about President Obama: “favorable,” “advantage,” “boosts,” and “support.” These word choices create a positive mental image for readers. “Boosts” and “advantage” also hint at words that have to do with a positive economy, which every American no matter what party is in favor of. In the picture included in the “Campaign Finance Explorer” on the front page of the Post, President Obama’s numbers are shown and Governor Romney’s are cut off. This is a small point yet it is more favoritism towards the President and the Liberal demographic. It is a shame that there are not more articles about President Obama’s campaign struggles as well as more articles describing Governor Romney’s positive attributes and successes. This would allow the public who reads the Washington Post to be better educated about both candidates for the upcoming election.
Check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Today we will spend the whole period looking at the structure of articles covering the local angle of a national or international story.
I have chosen a couple articles from college/university papers to help us understand how such stories work:
So, this next round of articles must be about a national or international issue, but written in such a way that it appeals to a local audience. This is called finding the “local angle” for the story.
As we’ve discussed at length in class, the average reader is weary from being bombarded by so much information, so the journalist and news organizations have to find ways of reaching them and making the news seem relevant.
Here are a few examples of recent news articles that take a local angle on a national or international issue.
You will notice that in each of these stories there is a connection between the local and national. The writer’s job in such stories is to foreground the connection between the national story and the local. This is done through a lede that specifically mentions place right away. In the first, a story from the Chicago Tribune, the writer mentions Lake Bluff, IL, a Chicago suburb. In the second, students celebrate the national Banned Book Week on the campus of the University of Notre Dame (IN), and, in the third, the national news comes to Lynchburg, with a presidential candidate speaking at Liberty University.
The articles then quote the local participants (or those affected), and in some cases, bring in experts that help to put the meaning of the event into perspective. Be mindful that not all readers will understand the significance of the national/international event or issue, so you will have to provide that, usually in the nut graf.
If you’re stuck on what to write about, consider what kinds of national/international events might affect Sweet Briar Students, or events that might be made more relevant by getting the opinion of Sweet Briar students and professors, especially those who study the issues raised by the news. Here’s a list I came up with:
- US economic crisis (unemployment, sluggish job market, etc.)
- 2012 Presidential election
- break-down in Israeli/Palestinian peace talks
- continued turmoil in Libya
- Economic crisis in Europe
- 9/11 anniversary
- upcoming speakers on national and international issues
Good luck, and let me know if you have questions/concerns.