Bias Analysis: World Magazine article vs. Sojo blog post

World Magazine: “Control Politicians, Not Guns” by Cal Thomas

This article was published on the website of the Christian magazine World on January 15, 2013, and was written by Cal Thomas. However, of you jump ahead to the very end of the article, it says that it was originally published by the Chicago Tribune Media Services. And as you read through this article, there is no mention of Christianity at all (besides the comment about Joe Biden being a Catholic). This could mean that this article was full of enough Conservative viewpoints and opinions that this Christian magazine thought it would fit in with the rest of the content on their site.

The fact that Thomas is a Conservative is evident in some of the sources he references and the phrases he uses. For instance, in the third paragraph, he quotes Rush Limbaugh, a staunchly Republican radio personality. Near the end, he quotes the Russian communist magazine Pravda, saying it “makes sense” in this situation. Also, he places certain things in quotation marks as if to discredit or mock them – like in the fifth paragraph when he says, “Biden calls his gun control effort a ‘moral issue’.” He proposes that Biden “suffers” from “selective morality” and almost insults the Vice President when he says that his views on abortion go against the views of his Catholic faith. Thomas refers to supporters of President Obama and VP Biden not as Democrats, but as “Radicals”, which in some circles has a very negative connotation.

Overall, the tone of this article is very snide and demeaning to those who oppose the views expressed in it. It is not a persuasive piece, nor is it trying to suggest a change of mind – it is simply stating why those who want more strict gun control are idiots and shouldn’t be listened to. You almost feel like you’ve been slapped in the face when you’ve finished reading. Thomas made this a strictly Conservative opinion piece and nothing more; whether or not he meant to do this is a mystery.

Sojo Blog post: “Guns…According to Jesus” by Kristen Marble

This article was written by Kristen Marble and published on the Sojourner magazine’s website, a Christian blog/news site with many different contributing writers and editors. This article, as opposed to the previous one, makes references to Jesus and Christianity as a whole in almost every paragraph, and quotes scripture on a few different occasions. This would lead people to believe at first that there would be an extremely Conservative bias in this piece, but as you read on your mind is changed.

The tone of this article is calm and mildly persuasive, using words like “perhaps” and asking rhetorical questions to make the reader think about things that perhaps they hadn’t thought about before. Marble points out the opposing views and takes them into account rather than completely ignoring them, as Cal Thomas did in the previous article. Marble admits that perhaps what she is suggesting – that we look to Jesus and the Bible for answers on what to do about gun control and other freedoms – may not even do anything, but she puts it out there anyway. I think there is definitely some Conservative bias here, and definitely some Christian bias as well, but I’m getting more of a Moderate-Conservative vibe from the writing, really.

The overall tone of this piece is not harsh and degrading like the previous one, but rather calm and gently persuasive. Marble makes good points – “True Christian freedom isn’t about doing whatever we want” – and addresses the opposing viewpoint on this issue rather than ignoring it. You feel after reading this that you haven’t been slapped in the face, but have rather been handed a Bible and kindly asked to read through it. Much better writing, in my opinion, than the last article.

Person I would listen to: Marble.

Person I think should also listen to Marble: Thomas.

Person I think needs to re-evaluate their “persuasive” writing: Thomas.

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Analysis: “Should illegal immigrants become citizens? Let’s ask the founding fathers” by Elizabeth Cohen

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This article is an opinion editorial published in the Washington Post, written by an associate professor at Syracuse University Maxwell’s School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The fact that the author works at this particular school could give her some bias as to whether or not she believes illegal immigrants should become citizens. This article is basically a history lesson describing the founding fathers’ views on immigration and things like that, and the author states that she thinks their “clear answer” is the right one: Anyone who stays in this country long enough and serves to help make this country better through work/service/etc., deserves citizenship. Personally, I agree with this.

Most of this article was historical facts and analysis of these facts, but there was definitely some opinion integrated throughout it. The author uses words like “unfair” and phrases like “We can learn from [our founding fathers]”. This is one key trait of opinion editorials, as is the fact that – instead of a lead – the author begins this article with a question: “Who deserves to be a US citizen?” This is a much more informal way to begin a journalistic piece of writing.

There is some clear bias in that this article is located in the “Left-Leaning” section of the op-eds, so that means the author is probably a Democrat – this also shows through in her saying that she agrees with the more “open-door” policy that the founding fathers had regarding immigration.

Paragraph Analysis:

The fourth paragraph on the second page of the article is much shorter than some of the other paragraphs, being only three sentences long. There isn’t much opinion in this paragraph, but there is the fact that the author considers the delay in giving immigrants citizenship “shameful”, as it was in the Colonial era. This paragraph pretty much summarizes the article’s main idea, and it does it rather effectively with relatively short sentences and powerful word choices like “shame”.

SOURCE ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/should-illegal-immigrants-become-citizens-lets-ask-the-founding-fathers/2013/02/01/ec3cca66-6bba-11e2-bd36-c0fe61a205f6_story_1.html

Analysis: “Liability, Guns, and the Law” by Adam Schiff

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This piece is an opinion editorial from the LA Times website entitled “Liability, Guns, and the Law” and it is written by former federal prosecutor Adam Schiff. This article basically tells the story of police officer Matthew Pavelka’s murder by a gang member who acquired a gun from a street “dealer” of weapons, and he goes on to say how this kind of thing should never be allowed to happen. “No industry deserves the right to act with reckless disregard for the public safety”, he says in conclusion, and he’s absolutely right.

Most of this article was facts about the lawsuit Pavelka’s family carried out against the gun dealer that sold the gun to the murderer without checking his background first. However, he manages to sprinkle his opinion throughout the storytelling and more so towards the end, using phrases like “We need” etc. This is an attribute of an opinion editorial, as is the fact that the article doesn’t really start with a real lead, but it catches the reader’s attention nonetheless.

Some bias I see is the fact that the author is a Democrat and a former federal prosecutor, so that would influence him to maybe lean more towards gun control and away from freedom for the gun industry.

Paragraph Analysis:

The tenth paragraph consists of two sentences, one shorter and one long. It uses language that is usually integrated in op-eds, like “We need” etc. The author also mentions the fact that he passed legislation that helps gun victims, which also serves to show his bias and the steps he’s taking to assure people that his opinion is the right one.

SOURCE ARTICLE: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-schiff-nra-liability-shield-20130205,0,7455985.story

Analysis: “I Yam what I Yam – but is it Art?” by Crispin Sartwell

This opinion editorial was published on the Los Angeles Times website today (february 12th) by Crispin Sartwell. The main idea of this piece is that people are becoming less and less able to think for themselves in today’s world, thanks to media and popular culture, and it uses a statue of Popeye that was purchased for $4 million at an art fair as an example – some people may not see this as a work of art because it doesn’t conform to their particular views of art, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t art at all. A majority of this article was opinion, with a few facts sprinkled in, much like the other editorials I have read through lately.

The tone of this piece is clearly subjective and informal, using phrases like “Alan Ginsberg sucks” and “There, I said it”. It refers to the reader as “you” repeatedly, giving it an almost conversational feel. This is one of the characteristics of editorials that I have seen lately. Some other characteristics I see in this piece are the lack of a definite lead, lots of opinion, and a clear bias – this man is a professor of psychology and aesthetics, so he would know more than a typical person about the effect that culture and media have on the way people think and view things.

Paragraph Analysis:

The eighth paragraph has only three short sentences and contains many of the traits of an editorial in itself. It expresses the author’s view on someone – he “sucks” – and it addresses the audience  – “Stop pretending to like Picasso.” The second sentence begins with the conjunction “and”, which is quite informal and probably wouldn’t happen in a formal reporting piece.

SOURCE ARTICLE: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-sartwell-price-of-art-20130212,0,2523689.story

Analysis: “An Invitation to President Obama” by Unknown (Chicago Sun Times Editorial)

This article is an opinion editorial called “An Invitation to President Obama” that was published in the Chicago Sun Times today (February 6). However, like the previous editorial, the author is unknown. This editorial is basically a plea to President Obama to visit Chicago and do something about the senseless shootings that happen here. The author wants the kind of response that Newtown, Connecticut,  got after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Unlike the last two editorials, this one is almost entirely opinion. There is one statistic about the number of kids that were killed in Chicago, but other than that it’s basically the author writing a letter to the President. It’s very informal and subjective, and clearly there is bias because the author is from Chicago, the area that he or she is concerned about.

This piece is clearly an editorial because the sentences are short – as is the overall article – and there really isn’t that clear of a lead. It’s written in the form of a letter almost, addressed to the President.

Paragraph Analysis:

The fourth paragraph, while only two sentences long, is chock full of powerful word choices and ideas. In the previous paragraph, the author describes how Obama visiting Chicago could possibly embarrass Mayor Emmanuel. However, this paragraph explains how Chicago couldn’t possibly be more embarrassed. “To walk to school in certain neighborhoods”, the author writes here, “is to walk through a war zone.” This puts focus on the senseless voilence being directed towards children in particular in this city, and I think that, though it is only two sentences long, this paragraph could well be one of the most important in the piece.

SOURCE ARTICLE: http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/18028596-474/editorial-an-invitation-to-president-obama.html

Analysis: “All They Want is a Choice” by Unknown (Chicago Tribune editorial)

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This article is an opinion editorial called “All They Want is a Choice” that was published in the Chicago Tribune today (February 4). However, the name of the author is unknown. In essence, the article tells the story of fifteen at-risk families in Chicago that were given a chance to choose a private school for their children to attend basically for free – the tuition would be covered by the Illinois Lottery. It goes on to explain how there is a bill being proposed that would give more and more families in Chicago whose children are “stuck” in dangerous public schools a chance to choose to leave those schools. The article ends with a clear call-to-action directed at lawmakers to not “let another three years slip away without implementing a school choice program”.

Most of the article is factual information – information about the proposed bill, statistics, etc. But there is definitely a lot of opinion riddled throughout as well. Phrases like “They deserve a chance” and “It’s about time” are used, and that as well as a few rhetorical devices give away the author’s view – that school choice program needs to be instilled in Chicago, and it needs to happen soon.

The tone is very much subjective and clearly biased, and the overall style is very informal. Short sentences and paragraphs are used, and interesting syntax is implemented as well – like at the end of the seventh paragraph, when in order to emphasize a point, the author separates three words with periods: “…And many of the schools Meeks identified in his legislation remain failing and overcrowded. Three. Years. Later.” It helps with emphasis, definitely, and you can almost hear the author speaking the words out loud as if trying to hammer the point into your head. I quite like it.

Some attributes of an editorial are present here. There is no clear lead – the article starts with a story rather than a blurb of information – and it ends with an obvious call-to-action. These things were seen in the previous editorial, as well.

Paragraph Analysis:

The third paragraph of this article contains reasonably simple word choice, but the imagery of fifteen poor children walking out of a gym with new backpacks “and a chance” the author uses is rather potent. The paragraph is reasonably short – only four sentences – but its impact is substantial when it comes to the point that the author is trying to make: that more than fifteen children should be able to get a private school tuition.

SOURCE ARTICLE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-scholarships-20130204,0,4461235.story

Analysis: “Why Roe v. Wade Needn’t be a Holy Grail” by Angie Weszely

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This article is titled “Why Roe v. Wade Needn’t be a Holy Grail” and it was written by Angie Weszely. This is an opinion editorial piece. The main point of this article is the fact that most women don’t get abortions because it is legal, but because they feel ashamed and horrified at themselves for becoming “one of those girls”. It calls Christians to be supportive and accepting of teens and young women who find themselves pregnant after making a mistake – in fact, is says that Christians are the “most equipped” to be supportive in these situations because of the lives of grace that we lead. It also begs the question, if Christians believe that God creates all life, then should we want to overturn Roe v. Wade

When it comes to the type of writing in this article, the large majority of it is opinion. It talks about Christians’ calling from God to be loving and supportive to those who need love and support, which can be interpreted as both fact and opinion, really. It also uses phrases like “We need…” and “We can…”, which are opinion-introducing phrases. There are several facts in there, as well – evidence from abortion research, information about Roe v. Wade, etc. I would say that the overall tone of this piece is formal because of the lack of vernacular language.

Some attributes of this type of writing include a short lead in the first paragraph that summarizes part of the focus of the article, a large amount of opinion, and a Christian bias (the website this article is from is called ThinkChristian). This could definitely skew the way the author presents some facts, and could lead us to believe that the author has even left out a few facts.

Paragraph Analysis:

The very first paragraph contains the short lead, which answers the questions when and what. The entire paragraph is only two sentences long, and the sentences themselves are actually very short and simple. There aren’t really any very fancy words used – in fact, the article could’ve been written by a high school student (this is not intended to be an insult, mind you).

ARTICLE: http://thinkchristian.net/why-roe-v.-wade-neednt-be-a-holy-grail