Media Analysis Article 1 Outline
For my media analysis article outline I will be analysing two online articles that cover the topic of sports journalism in regards to gender politics. I will focus on the topic of gender politics with the controversy that surrounds Caster Semenya, an Olympic athlete with Hyperandrogenism.
The two articles I will be analysing will be:
‘Rio Olympics: Caster Semenya caught in middle of gender politics’ by Nicole Jeffery, which was published in The Australian in August 2016. The second article, ‘Understanding the Controversey Over Caster Semenya’ was written by Jere Longman and was published on NY Times in August 2016.
Both articles have central arguments with supporting claims that the treatment on Caster Semenya has been unfair and they have underlying opinions that she should be able to compete in the Olympics as a female athlete. These arguments are portrayed and expressed differently in both articles, as Jeffery’s central arguments is explicitly stated in the first line, however, Logman’s central argument is made throughout the article with supporting claims and is not explicit. There are no explicit or obvious assumptions that the authors have made about the audience, instead they are directing their articles to a neutral audience that do not have an opinion as of yet. Both articles can be considered persuasive in the argument that they are supporting Semenya and her participation in Olympic female running events, and are persuading their audience to convince them that it is not her fault she was born this way. Both articles contain elements of opinion but are written around a central argument with supporting claims through facts, authority and ethics.
Media Analysis Article 1
Word Count: 1, 571
The controversy surrounding Olympic athlete Caster Semenya and her gender has been around since she first competed in the Olympics in 2008. A lot of debate over gender politics in sport journalism has been focused on Semenya in the past few years, with people questioning whether or not it is far to let her run in female events. Semenya has a condition called Hyperandrogenism where she naturally has a higher level of the hormone Testosterone in her body. There have been conflicting opinions on the debate, with one argument being that it is unfair for her to run in female events when she is ‘not 100% female’. The other argument is that she has been treated unfairly with invasions of privacy of testing and should be allowed to run as a female, because that is how she was brought up and that is how she lives. Two articles with similar viewpoints about this topic have been chosen to analyse. The first article, ‘Rio Olympics: Caster Semenya caught in middle of gender politics’ by Nicole Jeffery was published in The Australian in August 2016. The second article, ‘Understanding the Controversey Over Caster Semenya’ by Jere Longman was published on NY Times in August 2016. Both articles were posted recently and in the same period, and they also share a similar view on Semenya. Both articles agree that the treatment on Semenya has been unfair, however, these are both conveyed in different ways and through different techniques. Both articles are evaluative arguments that give a central argument of their own opinions and beliefs – which is that Semenya should be allowed to compete as a woman and should not be treated unfairly or scrutinized and punished for how she was born. There are no explicit or obvious assumptions that the authors have made about the audience, instead they are directing their articles to a neutral audience that do not have an opinion as of yet. Both articles can be considered persuasive in the argument that they are supporting Semenya and her participation in Olympic female running events, and are persuading their audience to convince them that it is not her fault she was born this way.
Jeffery’s central argument is incredibly explicit and is stated in the opening line of the article: “Caster Semenya has done nothing wrong”.
Longman’s central argument, however, is not explicitly stated but it is reiterated by supporting claims throughout the article. The central argument is that: Semenya is being treated unfairly and she should not be punished for being born the way she is. The supporting claims emphasize how she has been treated unfairly and justify why she shouldn’t be treated like this.
Firstly, I will analyze some key claims made in Longman’s article that support the central argument.
“Female athletes above the testosterone threshold of 10 nanomoles per liter – considered at the lower end of the male range – faced the prospect of invasive, humiliating and potentially risky measures if they wanted to continue competing. These included hormone-suppressing drugs and surgery to remove internal testes, which can produce testosterone.”
This claim appeals to a combination of ethics and facts, with the facts explaining testosterone levels to the reader. The rest of the claim appeals to ethics, with the description and use of language of “invasive”, “humiliating” and “potentially risky”. This claim also appeals to popular opinion, as Longman assumes the reader will agree that these measures are unethical and unfair.
Another key claim that supports the key argument is:
“At this point, it does not matter… The court said it had been “unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category.”
The claim: “At this point, it does not matter” is justified by the warrant that is stated directly after the claim, which is that it does not matter because it could not be proven that testosterone affects performance. “At this point, it does not matter” is a short and pithy statement that is effective in emphasizing how the debate does not matter because nothing could be tested. This highlights the persuasiveness of the text, as this bold statement is very strong and will capture the reader’s attention.
“The court ruling was the correct one. As the arbitration panel noted, science has not conclusively shown that elevated testosterone provides women with more of a significant competitive edge than factors like nutrition, access to coaching and training facilities, and other genetic and biological variations.”
This, much like the previous claim analyzed, contains a claim “The court ruling was a correct one”, which is then followed by its explicitly stated warrant which appeals to facts and authority. It appeals to a combination of these because it refers to the research from science, and it also appeals to authority from the use of reference to the arbitration panel. This claim supports the central argument from demonstrating that Longman agrees with the court ruling and he justifies that Semenya shouldn’t be treated unfairly with the appeal to authority and facts.
“All Olympians have some exceptional traits. That is why they are elite athletes.”
This claim has no justification but uses inductive reasoning to come to the conclusion that “all Olympians have some exceptional traits”. Longman writes under the assumption that all of his readers share the same opinions and beliefs that Olympic athletes have exception traits and this is why they are elite athletes. At the same time, this statement has underlying connotations of the belief that all Olympic athletes have exceptional traits, and therefore it is acceptable that Semenya has a naturally increased level of Testosterone in her body because all athletes are special in a way and they all have ‘exceptional traits’.
Longman then explores the counter argument of if in fact Semenya competing is unfair. He begins by doing this by defending his counter claims:
“Experts do not suggest that Semenya has taken banned substances. No one serious is calling her a man. No prominent voices suggest that separate categories should not exist for women’s and men’s sports. But many remain concerned that women’s sports will be threatened if some athletes are allowed to compete with a testosterone advantage…”
He then goes on to write:
“In a sport once dominated by white Europeans, said Madeleine Pape of Australia, who competed against Semenya in the 2009 world championships, women who have fought so hard for the right to compete and for sustainable financial support can feel threatened by the rising success of a faster competitor. Especially, Pape said, if that athlete is non-gender-conforming and is married to another woman, as Semenya is.”
The use of this quote makes Longman’s article and argument more objective, as he explores counter arguments counter claims that suggest it might be unfair for Semenya to compete. The fact that he explores the counter side of the argument gives his piece more objectivity and considers another audience for his piece, however, overall his underlying tone and message is persuading the audience that Semenya should be allowed to comepete as a woman.
“Meanwhile, Semenya’s best performance at 800 metres of 1 minute 55.33 seconds, which is not the word record, is about 12 percent slower than the men’s record of 1:40.91.”
This is a factual claim made by Longman which supports the central argument – that Semenya should be allowed to compete as a woman and should not be treated unfairly. This claim can also be an example of persuasion used throughout the article, as Longman uses factual evidence to demonstrate to the reader that if her performance is not the same as the men’s times, then she is not a man, and is in fact a woman and should be allowed to compete fairly in women’s events without criticism.
“The Journal of the American Medical Association said it was appropriate for athletes who were born with a disorder of sex development and were raised as females to be allowed to compete as women. That sounds like the right call. Let athletes compete as who they are.”
This quote expresses more of the author’s opinion with the use of “That sounds like the right call. Let athletes compete as who they are”. This use of opinion makes the central argument of the piece more obvious.
“It would seem unfair to tell her, Sorry, you can’t run in the Olympics because of the way you were born.”
This is the concluding statement and it is where the central argument for Longman’s piece is most explicit and obvious. This is the opinion that the writer concludes with, emphasizing how unfair he thinks Semenya has been treated and how he thinks it is unfair that critics are trying to stop Semenya from competing as a woman.
Jeffery’s article argues the same main points and their central arguments are both very similar. However, there are more opinion statements present in Longman’s article and Jeffery’s article is more objective. Another key difference between the two articles is that Jeffery’s central argument is explicitly stated at the very beginning.
“Caster Semenya has done nothing wrong. That is the one thing that appears to be agreed in an increasingly fractious debate over her eligibility or suitability to compete in women’s competition. Through no fault of her own, the South African 800m champion has been thrust into the centre of a storm over the criteria to determine who is eligible to compete as a woman and how a woman is defined for the purpose of elite sport.”
Jeffery’s central arguent and underlying opinions and beliefs on the topic of gender politics surrounding Semenya is made clear from the first line and the first paragraph.
“Rival female athletes demanded she be subjected to sex testing and the international athletics federation conducted an inquiry after which Semenya was cleared to continue competing.”
Jeffery then claims that Semenya’s ‘rivals’ demanded she be sex tested, however, her results were cleared. The use of the word ‘rivals’ persuades the reader that Semenya is being treated unfairly and people are against her. This claim supports the central argument when it appeals to facts, stating that the results were clean. There is no warrant for this claim.
“Semenya had been found to have an intersex condition (both male and female sexual characteristics) and had been put on medication to limit her testosterone production to “normal” female range… For the next five years, Semenya ran well but spectacularly. She finished second at the 2011 Olympics world titles and won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics, but never approached her blistering 2009 pace (1:55.45).”
This counter claim appeals to facts, based on Semenya’s past results. It explores how when Semenya was given testosterone lowering drugs, it enhanced her performance and did not run as fast. This is a counter claim for the central argument and suggests that the increased testosterone levels in Semenya’s body affect her performance. Using this counter claim, Jeffery’s article gains objectivity and may be considered more factual, less bias and neutral from the reader.
“The IAAF could not produce actual evidence that high natural testosterone production gave women an unfair advantage. The CAS suspended the IAAF rule but said it would review its decision if the IAAF came back with evidence within two years.”
This claim appeals to facts and authority by referencing facts from the IAAF. It supports the central claim and the persuading argument that Semenya has done nothing wrong, and naturally increased levels of testosterone may not even affect performance because there is no proof.
“Complicating matters is that scientists agree that there is no hard and fast line between the male and female genders. It is a spectrum, so any division would be arbitrary.”
Jeffery uses another claim here to support the central argument and appeals to authority to give the argument more reliability and validity.
“Advocates for intersex athletes to be allowed to run without testosterone limits (and therefore medical intervention) argue that her case is proof that they do not have an unfair advantage over other women.”
This claim uses an appeal to popular opinion to support the central argument, that Semenya has done nothing wrong and it is not her fault that she was born this way. This claim appeals to popular opinion because it cannot be considered a fact and advocators are not an authority they represent regular people such as the audience that have an opinion or a belief. This claim is also used to persuade the audience of the central argument.
“Daryl Adair, associate professor of sports management at the University of Technology in Sydney, has followed this issue closely and believes Semenya is being unfairly targeted.”
Jeffery uses an appeal to authority and a quote from someone that they assume the audience will trust. So firstly, there is assumption that the audience will trust this source and believe it is legitimate. Secondly, Jeffery uses the placement of this quote to use authority to persuade the audience that the treatment on Semenya has been wrong.
“It has less than a year to do so before its hyperandrogenism rule is thrown out permanently, which would plunge the future of female sport into ever more uncertain waters.”
The concluding sentence ends quite a neutral note, with the acknowledgement that if this situation is not fixed and a decision is not met then there will be even more controversy within the sport. This claim appeals to consequence and precedence. It appeals to consequence because Jeffery is stating that gender politics will worsen if a decision is not come to and precedence, because it has happened in the past with other athletes.
‘Rio Olympics: Caster Semenya caught in middle of gender politics’ by Nicole Jeffery.
Published in the The Australian, 17th August 2016.
‘Understanding the Controversey Over Caster Semenya’ by Jere Longman.
Published on NY Times, 18th August 2016.