ATAR Anger – Media Analysis Article 2 Danielle Armour

ATAR ANGER: What mark do you really need to get into uni?

Danielle Armour z5059217

It is that time of year again. The HSC is over and thousands of year 12 graduates are waiting anxiously for one key date: Friday 16 December. At 9am, the release of ATARs will determine many of their futures. But is it really that clear cut?

In January 2016, a Fairfax Media investigation revealed that many of the top universities in New South Wales were admitting students into courses despite having ATARs up to 40 points below the advertised cut off. Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, the article included breakdowns of the data uncovered, signposting Macquarie University and Western Sydney University as two of the main culprits with 63% of Macquarie University students being accepted into a degree without meeting the advertised minimum requirements. The article suggests that the findings are a result of the federal government lifting the cap on student admission numbers.




The ATAR is perhaps one of the most confusing parts of year 12 for students, with many finishing school and still not understanding what it means. An Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank or ATAR is a number between 0 and 99.95 that measures a student’s academic achievement in relation to other students. For example, an ATAR of 80 is not a student’s average mark for the year, rather an indication that they have achieved as well or better than 80% of the school leaving age population. In 2015, the median ATAR was 68.70. ATARs are used exclusively by institutions as a means of selecting students for their courses, with universities assigning ATARs to courses based on supply and demand for the degree as well as what they believe is the minimum academic standard required to complete a course.

Since the initial The Sydney Morning Herald article revealing the results of the Fairfax Media investigation there has been a large volume of articles published on the topic of university cut offs, many of them painting tertiary education institutions as misusing the ATAR system for financial gain, with headlines such as “Let’s move beyond ATARs: UNSW Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs”, “Universities agree to publish ‘real’ ATARs”, “Gaming the system: The beginning of the end for university admissions”, and “Not in our national interest: Universities slammed over ATAR leniency”. However, it is important to note that all of these headlines, as with many of the articles on this topic that position universities in a negative light, have been published in The Sydney Morning Herald, with the above headlines all taken from articles by journalist, Eryk Bagshaw. This is reflective of the fact that Fairfax Media owns The Sydney Morning Herald and is therefore using it not only to publish their initial findings but to further reinforce the perspective of Fairfax Media, as well as putting continued pressure on universities Australia wide to advocate for a change in the system.

Despite numerous Sydney Morning Herald reports clearly pushing the perspective that universities are misusing the ATAR system with negative implications for taxpayers and our future workforce, it is done so implicitly using features of new journalism articles. We can see this throughout Eryk Bagshaw’s article “Gaming the system: The beginning of the end for university admissions”. The article uses a wide range of sources to reinforce the primary claim that having an excess of students admitted to university is problematic and reduces the quality of education therefore reducing the quality of our workforce. A clear example of this seen in the use of quotes.

“”If you have a pulse, you can get in,” remarked Richard Hil, a researcher in university admissions policy at Griffith, who has called for a public inquiry to be held into tertiary administration.”

Richard Hill’s comment very clearly asserts that university admission cut offs do not accurately reflect the students who are accepted into courses. This is an assertion that Bagshaw would not be able to make for himself without being accused of journalistic bias, however, through the use of quotes he can support his primary claim. Further, this quote acts as a justification for Bagshaw’s primary claim, appealing to authority through Hill’s position as a researcher in university admissions policy, making him an expert on the topic of university ATAR cut offs.

In a similar adherence to the style of news journalism, Bagshaw uses appeals to facts in order to justify his primary claim. Adding to the authority of the article, Bagshaw cites all of the sources for the statistics he uses, as seen in the following example.

“Research from the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton indicates that based on past estimates only 20% of the 7000 students who are offered places with ATARs below 50 will end up getting a degree.”

This particular example has the underlying warrant that it is a waste of taxpayers’ money, and that Australian taxpayers should not be expected to pay for students who are statistically unlikely to finish their degrees. This again supports the viewpoint that the misuse of ATAR cut offs to boost university enrolments has negative consequences for Australia’s economy, a perspective that has been established by Fairfax Media through The Sydney Morning Herald since the ‘scandal’ broke in January 2016.

While Bagshaw avoids inserting authorial perspective into the article through the use of personal language, the perspective of the article and subsequently the world view of The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media is evident in the one sided argument presented. An analysis of the article found that the university admission process, or universities in general were mentioned three times in a way that differed from the perspective of the primary claim. Despite this, two of those mentions were included in order to be critiqued and further support the overall viewpoint of The Sydney Morning Herald, as seen below.

“This year, a record 1.2 million people will be educated in higher education institutions, a 22 per cent jump in total enrolments over four years at the cost of nearly $16 billion in government funding.

But a more widely educated population has also come at a cost.

Higher student numbers, fewer full time academics, and government pressure on research funding has meant that at the same time as universities are dependent on increased student numbers for funding, so too are they running on fewer resources.”

Fairfax Media’s perspective is made clear through the article referenced above and many others, but how have other media institutions responded to and reported on the initial findings about university admissions? Alexandra Beech’s ABC online article, “University admissions overhaul backed by education sector, Minister Birmingham says” takes a more neutral approach to the topic, reflective of the objectivity that is a key feature of news journalism. Where Bagshaw’s article was evaluative in nature, Beech’s article is factual, reporting on statements made by Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham. Contrasting to Bagshaw’s article, none of the quotes used by Beech are overly emotional, further aiding the objectivity of the article, as seen below.

“”All of this is really driving towards how we can give students better information and choices to make better decisions about which university they go to, what course they study and what would be required of them,” Senator Birmingham said.”

What is important to note here is that Beech’s article was published in August 2016 – 7 months after the initial Fairfax Media findings were released. Beech is therefore writing with the underlying assumption that the ATAR system is flawed, a position that is asserted in both Bagshaw’s and the initial The Sydney Morning Herald article and backed by Senator Birmingham in the above quote. This warrant remains implicit throughout that article, however is known to the reader due to the perspectives of the media in articles such as those written in The Sydney Morning Herald between January and the time of publishing of this article. Although we expect news journalism to be exclusively objective, this is not always the case, as seen above.

However, views journalism is an entirely different category, one which is more overtly evaluative in nature and tends to include more authorial opinion. There has been no shortage of opinion pieces in the wake of the release of Fairfax Media’s findings, many by university vice-chancellors defending their institutions and declaring that every Australian has the right to education. However, Dr Richard Hill’s article, “The ATAR Debacle: How To Lower The Bar In Higher Education”, published on online news platform New Matilda, takes a very different tone, citing the lack of transparency in ATAR cut offs as one of just many problems in a university system that in fundamentally flawed. This is not the first time Hill, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University, has voiced his opinion on the state of Australia’s university system, having previously penned two books titled, “Whackademia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University” and “Selling Students Short; Why you won’t get the university education you deserve”. His position within the university sector as well as having published the above titles gives authority to the justifications he makes in order to persuade audiences to align to his position.

Contrasting to the news journalism pieces analysed above, Hill’s article includes limited use of facts, instead relying on appeals to precedence and authority to justify his primary claim that universities are sacrificing their academic integrity by abusing ATARs in order to generate income. Below is an example of Hill’s use of both appeal to precedence and appeal to authority.

“Many of those enrolled in universities, academics tell us, find it difficult to string sentences together, to formulate coherent arguments, or to participate meaningfully in tutorials. They require intensive, on-going support just to scrape through. Many simply fail, or drop out. No-one knows precisely how many take the latter course, but the figure could be in the order of 25 per cent.”

This particular quote is representative of the tone and style of the article holistically, with Hill frequently referring to academics collectively to give them a position of authority as a means of justifying his perspective. However, in many situations throughout the article, this presents itself as an informal fallacy in the form of hasty over generalisation as the “academics” he refers to throughout his article are never named, nor are we given the scale of academics who agree with Hill’s position, instead they are referenced with vague quantifiers such as “most” and “any”.

What is similar to the news journalism pieces referred to above, is that Hill does not use first person language in his article. However, unlike Bagshaw’s evaluative pieces where opinion was presented through the use of quotes and sourced statistics, Hill uses emotive language to evaluate the university system, as well as second person language to get the audience invested in his primary claim, seen in the following quote.

“But you’ll hear none of this from the university marketing divisions or our salary-packaged vice chancellors, who constantly babble on about excellence, opportunity, innovation and creativity in the high octane, tech savvy world of the 21st century university. The problem however, is that employers have seen through all the marketing hype and experience tells them that that many graduates, often encumbered with a distorted sense of their own abilities, are rarely ‘job ready’.”

While the above pieces differ greatly in style and evaluation, there is one key idea that the above article have in common. Bagshaw, Hill and to a lesser extent, Beech, agree that top universities have lost their place of esteem and prestige in Australian society on the back of the Fairfax Media findings. This idea is opposed in coming articles, which defend universities in their decision to accept students below the advertised cut offs. Upon analysis of articles defending the university entrance system, it was evident that the majority of articles written in defence of universities were evaluative views journalism pieces, written by high ranking academics at prestigious universities across Australia, including UNSW, Macquarie University and Victoria University (the Fairfax Media investigation was exclusive to NSW, however Victoria has faced similar issues).

The trend in these articles is not only to defend the universities actions and justify the admissions process, but to blame the flaws in the ATAR system itself for leading them to admit students who do not meet published cut offs. Both Professor Iain Martin, deputy vice-chancellor academic at UNSW in his The Sydney Morning Herald article “We need to scrap the ATAR as the main judge of student potential” and Professor John Simons, Macquarie University’s deputy vice-chancellor academic’s  “Scandal, what scandal: uni hits back in ATAR stoush”, published in the Australian Financial Review discuss why their respective universities believe that the ATAR is not the only method that should be employed in the university admissions process.

Simon’s article focuses heavily on the idea that people are more than their ATAR, an idea rarely mentioned in the articles referred to above. This forms the central idea behind his primary claim that the ATAR is not the only factor to consider when determining university admissions therefore universities are justified in their decision to admit students below the advertised ATAR. He describes the ATAR as “like a price, an offer to do business and not a sole requirement”, therefore justifying all future claims he makes throughout the article. Similarly, Simons uses his own high ranking position within the university system to add authority to his article, in lieu of quotes and sourced statistics from other people or places of authority. This is evident in the use of his own personal experiences seen below, appealing to authority as well as precedence by suggesting that his experience is representative of the majority of those in the academic community.

“This debate also seems bedevilled by a view that big numbers mean low standards. This is a very odd argument. I’ve taught in a range of places, from an elite outfit that offered on the basis of 1500 applicants per place to a university that was entirely based on widening access.”

Martin’s article is more recommendatory in nature, asserting that “We need to find a better and fairer way to assess a student’s potential than the ATAR.” This, as the first line of his article, explicitly states his primary claim. Throughout the article, he refers directly to the initial The Sydney Morning Herald article that revealed Fairfax Media’s investigation as well as testimonies from UNSW students that feature in articles written by Bagshaw, including “Gaming the system: The beginning of the end for university admissions”, analysed above.

“Yes, more than 90 per cent of students offered places had a raw ATAR below the published ‘cut-off’ of 99.7 but the average (median) raw ATAR was more than 98. The vast majority of students admitted to this program in 2016 have ATARs close to the cut-off and reached it by being awarded two or three bonus points through the university’s published schemes.”

This appeal to facts is a direct rebuttal against the following quote from the initial The Sydney Morning Herald article, “NSW universities taking students with ATARs as low as 30”, however it is also an implicit appeal to ethics, with the underling warrant that universities maintain their practices at the highest standard and make admissions processes as transparent as possible.

In one of the nation’s most prestigious degrees, the Bachelor of Combined Law at UNSW, 91 per cent of offers were made to students who did not meet the ATAR cut-off of 99.7, including to two applicants who had scored only 67.


Martins goes on to recommend that the ATAR system needs to be changed as soon as possible, appealing to ethics in a similar way to Simons by emphasising the importance of opportunities of education for all.

But we would like to see more radical change across the system. Reducing six years of education to a single ranking is simplistic. We believe NSW should move away from the ATAR alone as quickly as possible. We need to look at measures of performance that take all relevant factors into account. They would include secondary school performance in specific subjects relevant to a particular degree.

While views journalism articles quickly rushed to the defence of universities, new journalism pieces took a more neutral approach, focusing on the ATAR as a system, and mentioning universities only because they are the means though which the system is facilitated. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of the Fairfax Media investigation, there were very few news articles published which spoke positively of the university admissions process, or defended the universities actions, with articles either remaining neutral or implicitly evaluating what they did. However, media from other states, such as Victoria and Adelaide have published articles about the ATAR in 2016, therefore acting as a link to the events that have occurred in NSW. “Universities should publish both minimum and guaranteed entry ranks for admission, Adelaide Uni says” by Tim Williams, published in Adelaide Now, is completely neutral when it comes to talking about universities, focusing instead on the recommendations made to change  the ATAR system. Due to the features of news journalism, this article remains objective in its language, however appeals to authority through the use of quotes to support the publications belief that the recommendations should be implemented.

““It would help to break down the ‘mystique’ surrounding ATAR cut-offs, demonstrating to applicants that the ATAR is not the only pathway to further study,” Torrens University said.”

Overall, the topic has been covered in quite some detail, however the two sides of the argument have been covered by the media in opposing ways. Those who condemn the universities for admitting students who do not meet the ATAR criteria, did so predominately in the form of news journalism pieces, using a variety of sources to support their perspective. Views journalism pieces the questioned the integrity of universities did so on a wider scale, questioning the institution holistically, rather than just their admissions process. Articles defending the university were also predominately views journalism, written by academics in support of their institutions. Ultimately, readers are persuaded to align with a certain viewpoint depending on where their initial opinion lies as well as the type of argumentation that resonates with them. Appeals to facts, seen in news journalism pieces and appeals to authority, in Simons and Martin’s articles, persuade audiences in different ways. This, combined with their preconceived notions of the reputation of Australian universities, influence the way they read the articles analysed above, and which side of the argument they are persuaded by.

2464 words




Assignment 4 Proposal

Danielle Armour


ATAR Anger- Universities accepting students way below advertised cutoffs

The topic I have chosen to investigate in this assessment relates to university entry across Australia. In January this year, Fairfax Media revealed that NSW universities are admitting students with ATARs as low as 30 into some of the state’s top tertiary degrees. Articles of a similar vein have been published in Victoria and Western Australia.

The majority of articles that I have found so far are news journalism items, however I plan to source a couple of views journalism pieces to supplement them. I anticipate that my conclusions will reveal a negative representation of universities across Australia, placing emphasis on the lack of transparency and truth when it comes to ATAR entry cut offs. I believe that this viewpoint counters much of what people believe about universities as tertiary educational institutions are often held as places of esteem in society. Most of the articles I have sourced so far do not condone universities accepting students who do not meet the advertised entry requirements, although the pieces take slightly different perspectives as to why this behaviour is negative.


The articles I have sourced thus far are below, however I will not be using all of these.–not-those-who-scrape-through/news-story/2dfa0fd7fca509f5d219b6f15d845070




No Level Playing Field In Sport

Should hyperandrogenous athletes be allowed to compete as women?

By Danielle Armour


The Olympics is never complete without an array of views journalism pieces, offering commentary and opinions on athlete’s performances, with both positive and negative articles frequent. One athlete, who has been at the centre of controversy since first appearing on the international stage in 2009, is South African 800m runner, Caster Semenya. Identifying as female and competing in female categories for her entire competitive career, Semenya has an increased level of testosterone due to a medical condition known has hyperandrogenism. From April 2011 to July 2015, female athletes with the condition, often referred to as intersex, were forced by the IAAF to take testosterone suppressing hormones in order to compete. The 2016 Rio Olympic Games was the first major international meet since this rule was removed, meaning that Semenya, and similar athletes could compete without taking hormone suppressants.

After fellow 800m athlete, Joanna Jozwik, claimed that she “feels like silver medallist” despite finishing in fifth place in the Olympic 800m final behind Semenya and other athletes who have been accused of being hyperandrogenic, the debate over gender and athleticism has produced numerous opinion pieces by prominent commenters worldwide. Two such pieces are Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Thompson’s interview “Caster Semenya and The Logic of Olympic Competition”, published in The New Yorker and The Conversation’s “Why Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand deserve to compete (and win) at Rio 2016”, written by UK scholar Silvia Camoresi.

Both articles offer background and contextualisation on the issue before presenting their main arguments in support of or against Semenya. This gives the reader an understanding of the complicated and medically complex situation Semenya is in. however, a logical progression of argument is created though the combination of objectively presented facts and large sections of opinion, allowing the ‘average’, and in this case potentially uninformed reader, to align themselves with the viewpoint of the authors. The assumption that the readers have a lack of information allows the authors to present their personal worldviews about athleticism and gender through a largely one sided presentation of their arguments.

The two articles have vastly different perspectives, emphasizing the contrasting worldviews of their authors. Gladwell and Thompson, in particular Gladwell as the interviewee, argue that women are given a ‘protected category’ in sport to give them the chance to compete at an elite level as they are unable to compete physically with their male counterparts. While Gladwell argues that he is not discussing social norms regarding femininity, he assumes that the readers agree that Semenya is not a ‘normal’ female athlete. Camoresi argues from a feminist standpoint that hyperandrogenism is being targeted because women who present the condition do not fit into society’s ideals of femininity and beauty. The academic style of her article assumes that the readers, while they may not be knowledgeable about Semenya or hyperandrogenism, have feminist beliefs, and will therefore be able to understand and likely agree with her argument.

The interview style of Gladwell and Thompson’s article, “Caster Semenya and the Logic of Olympic Competition”, allows for the primary claim to be explicitly stated early on in the argument. The claim, that Semenya (and hyperandrogenous athletes in general) should not be able to compete with other women due to the unfair competitive advantage gained through increased testosterone levels, is expressed immediately in the article.

“Thompson: Caster Semenya, the South African middle-distance star, who has what are called “intersex conditions.” She has always identified as a woman, but she has many of the physiological features of a man, including, according to a medical report in 2009 leaked to the press, internal testes and an exceptionally high testosterone level. Do you think she should be allowed to compete as a woman?

Gladwell: Of course not!”

In an attempt to align the readers with his perspective, Gladwell initially employs an appeal to popular opinion, justifying his claim with the assertion, “not a single track-and-field fan that I’m aware of disagrees with me.” As the reader is assumed to have an interest in sport simply by the fact they are engaging with the article, this appeal is designed to make readers feel as though they are not a true fan if they do not agree with Gladwell’s position, as Gladwell has positioned his view as representative of all track-and field fans perspectives. By setting up this notion that all athletics fans adopt Gladwell’s position on hyperandrogenous athletes, it allows Gladwell to more firmly assert his worldview regarding gender and athleticism as he continues his argument.

The consistent use of descriptive language throughout the article creates an elaborate picture of Semenya, perhaps overplaying her masculinity to readers in order to justify the recommendation of her exclusion from women’s events. Words such as “extraordinary”, “anomalous” and “turbocharger” are all used to describe Semenya. It is important to note however, that while these words do not attack her womanhood, when they are used next to phrases such as “‘compete’ against the ninety-nine per cent of women who have no such advantage”, “‘normal’ levels” and “How do you think the other women in that race feel about this?”, they are singling her out in her category as different. This becomes an issue when Gladwell also describes the female category in sport as “protected”.

“Tucker’s point is that Semenya’s difference puts her outside the protected athletic category of “woman”—and that makes it unfair to the other runners if she is allowed to compete. This is an argument that makes me—and most people—profoundly uncomfortable, because in all other walks of life we do not draw these kinds of hard lines.”

The term “protected athletic category” is stipulatively defined by Gladwell to exclude Semenya, as someone who has too much natural testosterone to compete as a woman without taking hormone suppressants. This definition is at the crux of Gladwell’s argument throughout the piece.

Therefore, the article, while not explicitly against Semenya identifying as a woman, claims that she is not woman enough to compete in a category that has been specially designed to ensure that ensure women have the opportunity to compete in sport at elite levels, despite not being as naturally physically capable as men. This idea is the underlying warrant under many of the arguments presented throughout the article and is representative of definitely Gladwell’s and perhaps Thompson’s beliefs on gender in sport.

The article, whilst evidently evaluative, is also recommendatory in nature, calling for the IAAF to reinstate the restriction on testosterone levels of female athletes and the use of hormone supplements to suppress excess levels.

Camoresi’s article’s viewpoint is immediately distinguished as different to Gladwell and Thompson’s in the title of her article, “Why Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand deserve to compete (and win) at Rio 2016”. Her article presents multiple primary claims in an attempt to account for all aspects of the controversy and argue for the participation of hyperandrogenous athletes without restriction. He central claims are that there is no level playing field in sport, with many other genetic factors able to give athletes competitive advantage and that hyperandrogenism is contentious because it does not align with societies ideals about femininity. Due to the academic nature of this article 9 as is the style of The Conversation), these claims are not immediately present, however are both explicitly stated within the text

“But even if testosterone did confer an athletic advantage, this advantage would not be unfair. This is because setting a limit on hyperandrogenism and singling it out from other biological variations that may confer an advantage is – at best – an inconsistent policy. There are plenty of other variations – biological and genetic alike – that are not regulated by the IAAF and, even though advantageous for athletic performance, are not considered unfair for competition.”

“It [hyperandrogenism] is singled out because it challenges our deeply entrenched social beliefs about women in sport in a way that other variations do not.”

Camoresi justified her first claim by appealing to facts, corresponding with the academic nature of the article. As seen below, she outlines numerous functions that are present in athletes due to genetic variation in humans, however are not tested for or surrounded by controversy. The formatting of this piece obsurces the detain regarding the scientific evidence, however there are numerous hyperlinks in the below passage to various academic journal articles about sports and genetics, appealing to authority, through the accepted idea that academics have thoroughly researched these topics and are therefore qualified experts.

 “More than 200 genetic variations have been identified that provide an advantage in elite sport. They affect a variety of functions including blood flow to muscles, muscle structure, oxygen transport, lactate turnover, and energy production. Endurance athletes in particular have been shown to have mitochondrial variations that increase aerobic capacity and endurance. An increasing number of performance-enhancing polymorphisms (genetic variations found at an increased frequency only in elite athletes and that make them who they are) are identified by sports geneticists.”

In regards to the second primary claim mentioned above, Camoresi assumes that the reader is sympathetic to feminist ideologies, similar to Camoresi herself. As such, she can go without explicitly stating that the tests that women are subjected to do not equate with the testing male athletes must go through. Camoresi argues this, again through an appeal to authority through formal testing procedures. Again, she does not explicitly state that men are not subjected to this testing, because it is assumed that the readers understand that the very fact she is pointing out the extent of testing of female athletes means that there is no such testing done on men.

“And what we see when we look at these women’s bodies is used as a visual trigger for testing. The “infamous” Ferriman and Gallwey Hirsutism scoring sheet developed in 1961 was included in the appendices of the IAAF regulations to “visually score athletes” who may then be targeted for testing.”

Furthermore, Camoresi appeals to ethics as well as facts to take a more logistical approach to the issue. She counters Gladwell and Thompson’s recommendation that the IAAF laws regarding testosterone levels be reinstated by looking at the health risks associated with taking medication for a condition, “which does not pose an immediate threat to health, as medical evidence shows,”, ultimately determining that, “androgen suppressive therapy is therefore unnecessary and could create health problems instead.” This justification is predominately used to show the underlying sexism Camoresi believes exists in sport, more generally, society as a whole. She argues that those who support the IAAFs previous laws for hyperandrogenous athletes are so entrenched in their ideas of femininity that they feel morally vindicated in encouraging these women to potentially risk their health in order to conform.

Ultimately, Camoresi’s arguments are brought together to reveal the underlying perspective of the argument in the final paragraph. While it supports her primary claims and the justifications presented previously in the article, her conclusion goes further, more specifically taking the issue of gender out of a sporting context and applying it the society more broadly. Overall, Camoresi believes that the controversy surrounding Semenya, is not about sport, rather about society being afraid and unaccepting of women who are different, or, in Camoresi’s eyes, women who dare to be great.

“Our society is still afraid of women who run too fast, who speak too loud, who are too good, who can be president. This is what this is about. Let’s not be bamboozled by discussions of fairness in sport. There is no level playing field in sport. These Olympics will be a test and a reflection of the state – and the health – of our society. Are we ready? Semenya is. Chand is. Go Caster. Go Dutee. Go and break that glass ceiling, and that world record.”

Analysis of these who contrasting reactive opinion pieces reveals that both make two largely different assumptions about the ideology of their audience, done through the assumption that their audience is much like they are, therefore allowing the authors to  reveal their worldview through their argument. For Gladwell and Thompson, this means adopting a position based around the contentious idea of women’s elite sport as a “protective category”, a class meant for inclusion, that Gladwell believes should exclude women for not being female enough, therefore revealing his beliefs around femininity and gender. Camoresi also deals with issues of gender, however uses the lens of sport to promote her feminist ideology, specifically that society is threatened by women who have the capacity to be successful. What both pieces are in agreeance on, is that Semenya, as long as she is allowed to continue to compete, will be one of the world’s most successful female middle-distance runners.

NB: Hyperlinks do not appear on Moodle and therefore the article is written as if there are no hyperlinks in the text.

Links to articles

Views analysis article 1: Step 1

By Danielle Armour


  1. The topic or subject area  of the views-journalism items you are proposing to deal with in your 1st written assignment


The topic I have chosen comes under the branch of sports journalism and the discrimination faced by certain athletes in the lead up to and during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. My particular focus is in track 800m athlete Caster Semenya and the debate over her being allowed to compete in female events. Semenya has a condition known as hyperandrogenism, an elevated level of testosterone in females. From April 2011 to July 2015, female athletes with the condition were forced by the IAAF to take hormones to lower their testosterone in order to be eligible for competition.



  1. The headline/title/name etc of the items  (or a brief designator if a broadcast item) and information on where and when they were published/broadcast

NB: Currently undecided which 2 of these articles I will use

  1. “Caster Semenya and the logic of Olympic competition”

By Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Thompson

Published by The New Yorker, AUGUST 12, 2016

2. “The ignorance aimed at Caster Semenya flies in the face of the Olympic spirit”

By Katrina Karkazis

Published by The Guardian Online 23 August 2016

3. “Why Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand deserve to compete ( and win) at Rio 2016

By Silvia Camporesi

Published by The Conversation, August 10, 2016


  1. One paragraph summarising what you believe are going to be your primary conclusions – i.e.what you anticipate will be the main point of your intended article.

I believe that the primary conclusions that will be made through my analysis will revolve around the differeing world views of the authors. The difference if viewpoints in the articles ultimately comes down what is considered a competitive edge in competition. Arguments for Semenya to race point to the idea that she is being discriminated against as she does not fit into the stereotypical picture of womanhood, therefore highlighting the underlying sexism in society. Those who are against Semenya competing argue that the issue is not her womanhood, she can identify as whatever gender she wishes, but rather that she has an unfair genetic advantage over the rest of the field.

MDIA2002- Tute Prep 4: Danielle, Ben, Siobhan

  1. What is the nature of the text’s central argumentative point? Is it a claim of fact, causality, evaluation, interpretation or recommendation, or some combination of two or more of these – or something entirely different? (Provide a few sentences here.)

The primary claim of the article is both evaluative and recommendatory. The author expresses his opinion, often without factual evidence to support his viewpoint. Further, the overall viewpoint is that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, with the argument supporting the recommendation that sleep deprivation should not be used as a form of torture.

It argues that sleep deprivation is a form of torture and we (especially politicians with no experience with the matter) should not try and justify using it for interrogation.

  1. How much simple opinion (the expression of the author’s viewpoint without any supporting argumentation) is there is the text? Would you classify the text as being more opinion or more argumentation? (a few sentences)

It is a combination of opinion and argumentation; however, we would argue that it leans towards argumentation. Each point raised in the article is almost always supported by a rationale i.e. facts and anecdotal evidence are used as a justification

  1. Does the author offer an explicitly asserted statement of the text’s principal argumentative point? (briefly discuss)

I would say that the principal argumentative point is inferred rather than explicitly stated. The author alludes to his argument that sleep deprivation is a form of torture utilizing evidence and quotes. The most direct he gets is in the final line of the article which articulates the principal argument the most: “Interrogation is an important tool in the fight, but politicians shouldn’t try to justify torture and therefore lower us to the level of our enemies.”


  1. Are there any contentious terms in the text and, if so, does the author offer any stipulative definitions of these? To what extent are any such definitions supported with their own justification? (a few sentences)

The term ‘torture’ is used throughout the article and can be considered a contentious term. The author argues for a definition of torture that is inclusive of the concept of ‘sleep deprivation’. Further, the author supports his stipulative definition of the contentious claim by using evidence from the United Nations to appeal to authority.

5. and 6 Justification and Warrants

Justification 1: Ruddock is not an expert in torture and therefore his recommendation should not be taken seriously (type: appeal to authority( he has none), appeal to customary practices/precedent)

Warrant for Justification 1: Only people who are experts/ have significant experience in a field can give educated recommendations.

Justification 2: In 1997, the United Nations Committee Against Torture specifically ruled that the extended deprivation of sleep did indeed constitute torture.  (type: appeal to authority)

Warrant for Justification 2: We should accept the laws that the United Nations, as a governing body, set.

Justification 3: Sleep deprivation hinders the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the brain causing fatigue, lapses in memory, lethargy, muscular pain and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness. ( type: appeal to facts, appeal to ethics)

Warrant for Justification 3: The above symptoms are bad.

Justification 4: it is against the law to use sleep deprivation techniques in Australia. (type: appeal to authority, appeal to precedent)

Warrant for Justification 4: the law is to be obeyed

Justification 5: the Japanese probably justified these sleep deprivation techniques at the time so if we did this we would be like the Japanese during WWII (appeal to emotion, appeal to negative consequences, appeal to comparison)

Warrant for Justification 5: the Japanese were the enemy in WWII, it was largely agreed that their actions were wrong.


  1. Does the text contain any informal fallacies? If so, list these and present your justification for negatively characterising them in this way.

    Ad Hominem Argument: “Exactly what Attorney- General Philip Ruddock was doing even commenting is unclear, let alone supporting the practice as a means of getting information out of terrorist suspects.” Specifically targets Attorney General Phillip Ruddock.

    Distraction / Evaluative Presumption: “Ruddock has been a Liberal member of Parliament since 1973. Before that he was a Sydney solicitor. He has presumably enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep, many of them at taxpayer expense, most nights for the past 33 years.” Providing a distraction from the central argumentation – an extension upon the Ad Hominem.

    False Analogy: “No doubt, the Japanese army’s political masters would have justified it as valid in the context of world war.” Allowing sleep deprivation makes us the same as the Japanese and how they treated POW in WWII.