The Debate over Caster Semenya

MDIA2002 Media Analysis Article 2

Kostas, Carolena z5061221 F10A

 

The Debate over Caster Semenya

 

Olympians are known to be celebrated by their nation and by their fans, however, issues often arise over the fairness of competition, be it doping or other means of cheating. This in particular has affected South African 800m Athlete, Caster Semenya who has hyperandrogenism, (a medical condition characterised by excessive levels of androgens, male sex hormones such as testosterone, in the body and the associated effects of the elevated androgen levels) and thus a global debate has occurred over how to treat hyperandrogenic athletes.

 

With an influx of current media representations surrounding hyperandrogenic athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics, Caster Semenya is in a position of intense scrutiny following the debate whether it is fair to allow her to compete or to bar her. “South African Athlete Caster Semenya reportedly under armed guard at Rio Olympics following safety fears” by Benedict Brook for News.com.au and “Caster Semenya 800m Rio Olympics: Most sensitive race of Games as South African star runs” by Tony Harper for FoxSports, advance similar viewpoints and offer insight into the different perspectives and world views held by authority, athletes and sports fans alike regarding this ethical issue. The personal viewpoints are not advanced by each author, rather the reader’s need to conclude for themselves, after careful consideration of the evidence put forward through use of quotes from figures with relevance to athletics and the sporting world.

 

A myriad of opinions is portrayed through news stories and there is no conclusion yet on how to treat Semenya’s case in regards to her competing as a woman who is hyperandrogenic. Semenya’s athletic career has been put at stake since the IAAF launched an inquiry into her gender in 2009 after she won an international title at age 18. Semenya has been characterised as an athlete with extraordinary talent but the question remains, is she too fast for a woman? The general attitude represented by authority and sporting figures is that at the heart of the ethical debate, she has grown up and identifies as a women however further research needs to be made to determine if she has an unfair advantage over athletes who do not have her condition. Thus the sensitive issue of her competing at the Rio Olympics continues.

 

Author Benedict Brook from News.com.au provides a balance of quotes for those in favour of Caster Semenya competing and those who believe she has an unfair advantage, this positions the audience to better understand each side of the argument before making their own conclusions. Brook’s use of emotive language portrays the issue of the sensitivity of her competing, as displayed in the quote; “Fearful of disquiet from the fans of rival runners spilling over into physical violence they have beefed up Semenya’s security.” Whereby he insinuates that the events currently unfolding in Rio are very controversial. After introducing the current situation in Rio surrounding Semenya, Brook then appeals to authority and ethical social norms, by recounting facts that arose about Semenya’s gender. “A leaked medical report said the athlete has internal testes a condition called hyperandrogenism which naturally increases levels of testosterone. This, in turn, can aid in the building of muscle — essential for an elite athlete.” Through an appeal of emotive language coupled with facts, Brook’s argumentative support justifies the claim that Semenya may have an unfair advantage competing against other women which highlights the generalized attitude people hold when they first hear about Semenya. Generally, the media portrays hyperandrogenism in female athletes in a negative and unfair light and thus Brook argues against these presumed representations which can have a profound influence on the general sporting readership’s opinions of Semenya competing at the Rio Olympics. In this instance, Brook has characterized Semenya as a muscular athlete with uncertainty into her gender, however still implicitly evaluating the case that surrounds her in a justified manner.

 

In order to present a balanced argument to ensure his readers can come to an educated conclusion, Brook includes quotes to express the opinion of Semenya’s rivals and her supporters, and in this way does not not advance his own opinion on his readers. Drawing firstly upon the opinion of competitors; “Rivals say they would be labelled a drug cheat if they topped up their testosterone to the levels of Semenya and she has an unfair advantage,” he emphasizes the sensitivity of the debate through emotive language. In contrast, Brook immediately goes on to provide the alternate viewpoint; “But supporters say whatever condition she may have, she is still a woman and should be able to compete as one. They say the furore is more because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of what a female athlete should look like.” By providing this balance of arguments, Brook coaxes his audience to make their own opinions by appealing to a comparison, to influence how his audience is informed. Although the argument over whether it is fair to let Semenya compete is a slippery slope, Brook’s strategy is to appeal to different opinions to enable his readers to make their own conclusions and viewpoints. Authors often employ this technique throughout a multitude of media representations in order to not impose their own opinion on their readers. Brook deals with for and against arguments in a manner that suggests his readers have significant understanding of the controversy and that although Semenya may face potential harm, the benefit to society is that they can conclude in an informed manner, whilst respecting the rights of an individual. Although the media portrayal of Caster Semenya is varied and with a certain degree of indecision, as no conclusion has yet to be made by authority, they still afford the debate to be interpreted by their own audiences.

 

Furthermore, Brook again withholds imposing his own opinion on his readers by including quotes from athletes and authority to support the comparative argument he is attempting to portray. Sports fans have the capacity to respect the opinion of other Olympian’s, and thus Brook appeals to his audience in the quote, “In July, British Olympian Paula Radcliffe told the BBC: “When we talk about it in terms of fully expecting no other result than Caster Semenya to win that 800m, then it’s no longer sport. It’s not just Caster’s rights but all the women with elevated testosterone that need to be balanced with those that don’t.” Brook then goes on to support his argument that a unanimous decision across authority and sporting figures is yet to be made by appealing to facts in, “But a 2016 paper by the American Medical Association poured cold water on the suggestion testosterone would make enough of a difference on its own to support exclude those athletes. “Many factors, favourable genetics, height, muscle type… contribute to competitive success in sport.” This style is employed by authors in order to allow their readers to come to their own conclusions and to ensure their articles are free from their own bias. Through using an evaluative claim, Brook appeals to ethical and social norms as the readers are able to form their own understanding of the issue and then pass their own judgment. An appeal to authority and popular opinion, allows Brook to share the same underlying world view as his readers and supports the claim that a decision has not yet been made by authorities whether it is fair to continue to let Semenya run. As Semenya’s current position has been evaluated by athletes and authority, the readers can understand that Brook has implicitly demonstrated the representational effects of a controversy in sport that has spanned over many years.

 

Author Tony Harper from FoxSports provides more perspective into the debate over whether it is fair to let Caster Semenya run as a hyperandrogenic athlete. Harper’s article appears to be firstly centered around the fact that Semenya has a right to run and is in favour of her. This is exhibited in the large amount of quotes firstly in favour of Semenya before presenting the other side of the argument. This positions the audience to firstly take on the stance that Semenya is within her rights to run as she is, before allowing them to comprehend whether this ethical debate should result in her being barred from competition. Again the author offers alternate viewpoints to enable the audience to be educated in either side of the debate before coming to their own conclusions. Harper firstly appeals to emotion through an almost sarcastic tone in, “Semenya, the so called intersex athlete, has divided the sport’s fans between those who feel her biological make-up is merely the luck of the draw and those who feel her participation is unfair on her rivals,” by which the words “so called” and “those who feel” deliberately evoke an emotive response in the reader.

Furthermore, the word choice of ’those who feel’ is a direct appeal to the audiences’ emotion as they are subsequently called upon to reflect on their own emotions on the matter. Harper appeals to popular opinion through the inclusion of an athlete’s viewpoint; “It’s a hard situation … This goes beyond sport to the human being,” John Steffensen, an Australian Olympian born in South Africa, told Fox Sports Australia.” As the issue about Semenya translates into the sporting world, as well as being an ethical and moral debate, readers can respect John Steffensen’s opinion as a fellow athlete who has also competed at the Olympic Games. Authors who write about controversy in sport often provide a recommendation claim to appeal to their audience. In this instance, Harper has justified his principle claim that Semenya’s participation is a difficult argument to make conclusions on which creates a relationship between the reader and author. Although Harper does not mount his own argument into his article, he employs quotes that evaluate Semenya in order position his audience to respect the different opinions presented. Through inclusion of quotes from the public consensus against that of a respected athlete, Harper promotes the generalized view that after careful consideration of facts and ethics, one is able to form their own opinion of Caster Semenya.

 

Authors employ rhetorical questions to intentionally allow the readers to question their own viewpoints as well as the matter at hand that they are reading. Harper additionally appeals to consequence and emotion through the use of rhetorical question in, “This so clear cut and so decisive, she can win the Olympic Games and not run really well,” Bideau told the Herald Sun. “It’s ridiculous but that’s the rules, what can you do about it? It’s not her fault, it’s just unfortunate.” This quote is from Nic Bideau, a coach of Australia’s Rio track team and thus the readers are able to respect the opinion of a figure of importance in the sporting world. Rhetorical question is a device that directly appeals to the audience’s own emotions and displays that although the article endeavors to be fair by providing both sides of the argument, it plays on the readers’ emotions and piques their interest. By including quotes from authority, Harper is able to appeal to his readers and further their understanding of the legal matter on Semenya; “The IAAF are researching into this area to see if there are rules that will help women’s sport to remain fair, but hugely complicated and difficult subject, as you all know,” said Dr Richard Budgett.” By including quotes from figures of authority, including scientists and people responsible in research areas, authors are able to invoke attitudinal assessment by positioning the audience to believe facts coming from authority with relation to this ethical debate. Although as Harper writes for FoxSports and the articles from this media outlet are often very emotive and play on the readers’ feelings, he attempts to provide a balanced argument by offering facts and quotes from authoritative figures. Authors will employ an appeal to facts and authority, especially in the instance of an emotive piece, to further the belief of their readership and to sway them to the underlying world views that they or the publication hold. Harper has positioned his audience in a way that they are able to respect both stances on the Semenya debate as opinions from athletes and coaches with a stake in the issue are explicitly demonstrated, as well as the authority presenting their stance on the issue with careful consideration.

 

Through a journalistic analysis of two contrasting articles that delve into the controversy of Caster Semenya, it is apparent that although there is no general consensus or conclusion whether she should be allowed to compete, the sporting bodies have not been able to make a reasoned decision yet regarding hyperandrogenic women and thus journalists should tread lightly on this sensitive issue. The authors have also positioned their readers to enable an attitudinal assessment of the situation, which in turn results in the public feeling that they should treat the subject with sensitivity. Each article reaches the conclusion that how to treat Semenya is still up in the air, however the readers are invited to make their own assessment on the matter after being presented quotes and facts from both sides of the argument. Both authors position their audience to understand how this is an ethical debate over fairness of sport and the rights of an individual. Through the many appeals that the authors make to their readers, the authors interpret their audience as sports fans with a capacity for empathy and understanding over the controversy that surrounds Caster Semenya. Thus the conclusions that the audience are able to make are reliant upon personal opinion and how each article has affected the readers’ emotions and overall assessment of Semenya. As the readers are encouraged to come to an educated and informed opinion by the end of each article, this provides engagement as well as the influence each author has. Through a comparison of the linguistic devices of appeals to emotion, comparison, authority and facts, it becomes apparent that each text supports that there are varying opinions surrounding Semenya and her competing at the Rio Olympics. Although there is no general consensus held by both authority and sporting fans alike as to how to treat the ethical debate surrounding Semenya, the readers are invited to make their own opinions on the matter. Brook’s and Harper’s articles are both argumentative in their own right and both attempt to provide a balanced argument for their readers, despite the nuanced play on emotions that occurs. As her involvement in the games is imminent and her progression into the final of the women’s 800m remains, the debate will continue likely into the next Olympics in four years’ time. Being for or against Semenya is a real ethical debate that goes beyond the sporting world as it plays into the world view that everyone should be treated equally.

 

 

References:

 

Brook, B (2016) ‘South African athlete Caster Semenya reportedly under armed guard at Rio Olympics following safety fears’, news.com.au

http://www.news.com.au/sport/olympics/south-african-athlete-caster-semenya-reportedly-under-armed-guard-at-rio-olympics-following-safety-fears/news-story/d0fd6608d4d2aff4ba98cf9a2c6d0664

 

Harper, T (2016) ‘Caster Semenya 800m Rio Olympics: Most sensitive race of Games as South African star runs’ FoxSports Australia

http://www.foxsports.com.au/olympics/caster-semenya-800m-rio-olympics-most-sensitive-race-of-games-as-south-african-star-runs/news-story/fb34a28d13a72982aee5e4d213d10117

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Children: A lifestyle choice under social scrutiny

By Alexandra Refenes

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There is a certain kind of appeal that surrounds veganism as an alternative lifestyle choice. Excluding the consumption and use of all animal products, this plant-based diet appears to be growing exponentially in popularity. Not only does it offer a healthier lifestyle alternative, veganism is also characterized by its ethical regard for animals and a cleaner world.

Click here for more information about veganism from The Vegan Society.

However, current media representations have placed this lifestyle under intense scrutiny following a number of worldwide cases where babies raised on a vegan diet have been hospitalized due to malnourishment. Is it safe to raise a BABY as a vegan? Experts reveal whether the plant-based diet can be healthy for young children by Stephen Matthews, An Italian baby raised on a vegan diet is hospitalized for severe malnutrition and removed from parents by Mary Hui, Italian baby kept on vegan diet taken into care after being found malnourished by Josephine McKenna and a Vegan mum who allegedly fed baby only fruits and nuts charged published by news.com.au, offer different perspectives regarding this societal issue.

The general consensus portrayed by news stories in the media is that veganism for children is unethical. Sparking moral debate, media articles question parenting skills and raise concerns about the absent intake of key nutrients that are essential for infant growth and development. Amongst these negative representations, however, there are few opinions that advocate a vegan diet. Some people argue that veganism is not the problem; it is neglect that leads to child malnourishment. Thus the contentious issue of vegan children remains.

In the first article Stephen Matthews offers insight into both perspectives, which positions the reader to consider either side of the argument. At first, Matthews alludes to the negative representation of a mother from Pennsylvania who “was charged with endangerment for feeding her baby nothing but a small amount of nuts and berries”. He couples this with the recent court decision in Italy where feeding children a vegan diet under the age of 16 has been criminalised “after a number of vegan babies were hospitalized for malnourishment”. By appealing to comparison, Matthews is propagating the generalized stigma, which surrounds vegan children. In most media stories, vegan children are perceived as victims whilst their parents are reviewed as unfit guardians. These are assumed representations that have significantly influenced societal opinions regarding the administration of vegan diets for children.

In contrast to this view, Matthews additionally discusses how the media can often create unfair representations in relation to this social issue. Drawing upon the authorial opinion of nutritionist Reed Mangels from Massachusetts, news stories that describe vegan children as malnourished “can be stressful for parents who have done their homework and have to defend themselves time and time again”. Further inclusion of academic opinion from The American Academy of Pediatrics promotes veganism for children by describing how, with dietary planning and research, “it is possible to provide a balanced diet to vegetarians and vegans”. The use of the word possible creates hope for veganism as a positive lifestyle choice for young children. By inviting the reader to consider the authorial opinion of academic sources, Matthews is implicitly influencing his readers to consider other viewpoints. This is a common technique that many authors appear to use through out various media representations in order to remain neutral in their opinion. By including both sides of the argument, this allows the reader to reach their own conclusion about the social issue of vegan children. Although many articles predominately oppose vegan diets for children, they still offer debate that perhaps there are other plausible causes, which could lead to malnourishment. However, the general consensus represented by the media still remains that this lifestyle choice inhibits the welfare of children.

Author Mary Hui from The Washington Post offers further insight into the debate of vegan children in society. Reporting on the hospitalization of a 14-month-old baby from Italy, she writes how the infant was found severely malnourished after being raised on a vegan diet.

“The baby, whose parents allegedly kept him on a vegan diet without providing dietary supplements, was found severely malnourished, suffering from dangerously low calcium levels. Complicating matters, the baby had to undergo an emergency operation because of a congenital hear condition, which was aggravated by his low calcium levels”.

Appealing to emotion, Hui includes words and phrases such as shocked, harrowing, suffering and dangerously low to invoke audience reaction. Painting a negative picture, these linguistic devices used by Hui position the reader to oppose veganism as a dietary option for young children.

The inclusion of an authorial voice in the above statement also creates a relation between the reader and author. Hui asserts her opinion through descriptive language, which essentially influences the reader to share a similar view. Through the use of transitive analysis, this is a passive clause that describes the baby as the affected, the parents as the agent and malnourishment as the process. By including this analytical perspective, Hui is promoting the generalized view that once again, children fall victim veganism as a result of poor decision-making from their parents.

Despite these negative viewpoints, Hui additionally alludes to social misconceptions that surround veganism for children. ‘“Holy guacamole – can we all just stop the madness when it comes to ill-informed journalists claiming that vegan diets harm/kills babies?!’ said a broadside in the Your Daily Vegan. ‘Every year or so, an article enters the world with inflammatory headlines and content about how dangerous a vegan diet can be for infants and children’” she includes.

The explicit language used in this quote attests to the moral and ethical debate that surrounds this issue in society. The use of the phrase can we all also creates a relation between the text and the reader by positioning them with majority of society who seem to oppose vegan diets for children. By referring to articles with inflammatory headlines and content about how dangerous veganism can be for children, Hui highlighting the general view of media representations. The media tends to promote negative perceptions of this social issue, which positions members of society to disagree with this lifestyle choice.

Furthermore, Hui juxtaposes negative perceptions of vegan diets for children by appealing to authority. By including a statement from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she seeks to promote what appears to be a minority view in the media – that veganism can be healthy for infants and toddlers. This invokes attitudinal assessment by positioning the reader to trust academic sources in relation to this debatable issue.

In a similar manner, Josephine McKenna from The Telegraph also reports on the Italian baby who was found malnourished as a result of a vegan diet. The association between these two stories illustrates the negative correlation between most news articles that are published by the media. By appealing to consequence, these articles illustrate that most cases of vegan children shared by the media communicate negative consequences, rather than positive impacts of this lifestyle choice.

Negative media representations appear to scrutinise the skills of vegan parents, which has essentially become a major issue in society. Including the authorial opinion of Luca Berndardo, director of paediatrics at Milan hospital, McKenna alludes to the idea that veganism does not offer sufficient nutrient intake for young children. In her article, she describes the Italian baby as “severely malnourished with calcium levels barely adequate to survive”. A quote Bernardo suggests that from the moment of birth, the young child “should have had support in this case with calcium and iron levels”.

This is another societal issue that surrounds vegan children. According to The Youngest Vegetarians, “key nutrients whose adequacy should be monitored in vegetarian/vegan diets include vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc (Mangels, 2012, pg. 8)”. However, many media representations communicate that veganism does not offer such nutrients to young children, which are optimal for growth and development.

McKenna further alludes to comparison by referencing other vegan cases that resulted in negative consequences. “It is not the first time that vegan diets have provoked alarm in Italy. Four children have been hospitalized within the last 18 months and a malnourished toddler spent several days in intensive care in a Genoa hospital last month”, she states. By including other cases of malnourished vegan children, the author is highlighting the severity of this situation. This essentially provides the viewer with substantive evidence that perhaps veganism for children should be disapproved.

News.com.au have additionally published a news article that shines a negative light on veganism as a lifestyle choice for young children. Drawing parallels with the first article composed by Matthews, this media text offers negative perceptions of the discussed social issue.

In accordance to court records, the estranged husband of Elizabeth Hawk became concerned after their son broke out in a rash as a suspected result from the baby’s strict diet. Police said that the mother, who had subjected her child to a vegan diet, had “had not fed the child enough for the baby to thrive”.

Representations of the mother through out the article and other similar news stories are severely negative. By including the opinion of a paediatrician who examined the child, this article sees the mother’s actions as “inhumane”. This particular description ignites emotional reaction in the reader and positions them to review all vegan parents in a negative manner. Media representations tend to label vegan parents as neglectful and incompetent, which seems to influence the establishment of societal views regarding this issue.

Court records, which describe the child as unable to ‘“crawl as a result of the malnourishment,’ which also left him developmentally delayed” are grim perceptions that influence the readers opinion of veganism for children.

In addition, the article also states, “Brandy described her sister-in-law’s views on nutrition as extreme, adding: “She was going to live on water and sunlight”.

This statement, which describes the eating habits of Elizabeth Hawk, is testament to majority of media representations that people regard about veganism. As a dietary choice that excludes all animal products, many people in society are under the assumption that veganism involves very little choice in terms of food sources.

Furthermore, Elizabeth Hawk was charged with endangering the welfare of her son after failing to provide him with sufficient food. The extremity of this case promotes societal judgement, as people continue to review veganism for children as a poor parental choice. The legal implications involved in this case also heighten negative connotations that media tend to attach to this societal issue.

Through the journalistic analysis of the articles above, it is evident that media representations of vegan children provoke inevitable public debate. The conclusions reached by each author are subject to personal opinion, which essentially influences the engaging reader. By comparing linguistic devices and the use of authorial opinions, it is clear that each text promotes varying perceptions of vegan children in their own way. Whilst the general consensus may regard veganism as a negative lifestyle for young children, there are still opinions that think otherwise. As this plant-based diet continues to grow in trend, the debate shall continue in relation to determining how young is too young for children to follow this strict diet.

References:

Matthews, S (2016) ‘Is it safe to raise a BABY as a vegan? Experts reveal whether the plant-based diet can be healthy for young children’, The Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3858060/Raising-vegan-baby-Theres-right-way-wrong-way.html

Hui, M (2016) ‘An Italian baby raised on a vegan diet is hospitalized for severe malnutrition and removed from parents’ The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/11/italian-baby-fed-vegan-diet-hospitalized-for-malnutrition/

McKenna, J (2016) ‘Italian baby kept on vegan diet taken into care after being found malnourished’ The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/10/italian-baby-kept-on-vegan-diet-taken-into-care-after-being-foun/

Author unknown, (2016) ‘Vegan mum who allegedly fed baby only fruits and nuts charged’ news.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/babies/vegan-mum-who-allegedly-fed-baby-only-fruits-and-nuts-charged/news-story/44dc79d095c0cdef8b8e5b3699578899

The Vegan Society, (2016) ‘Definition of veganism’, https://www.vegansociety.com

Mangels, R (2012) ‘The Youngest Vegetarians: Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers’ in Childhood Obesity and Nutrition, vol. 4, no. 1, pg. 8-20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Bias in Media Communication Regarding Female Politicians

  • Staff Writer. 2016. Triggs’ integrity questioned by Coalition MPs. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/national/coalition-grills-human-rights-chief-julian-triggs-over-misleading-senate-committee-evidence/news-story/fa3d0d00d588c3572b8b0738629bb835 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

 

  • Le Messurier, D. 2016. PM contradicts Abbott over gun law. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/current-affairs/leigh-sales-grills-tony-abbott-his-tweet-about-gun-laws/news-story/bbcd902299b7ed29cfd86f3aa25063ba [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

 

  • Dunlevy, S. 2016. Govt pushes on with Medicare payment overhaul. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/turnbull-government-presses-on-with-medicare-payment

 

          There has been a plethora of literature written on the subject of gender difference in media.  This field is so well-studied that it has become almost saturated; it contains a body of knowledge so significant that it is easy to become lost.  However, there are areas of concern within this particular field of study that pertain directly to the media, and these are fascinating glances into the long-held societal beliefs and archetypes of any community. The purpose of this discussion is to develop an understanding of the differences in characterizations of female and male politicians in the media; while Australia will be the central focus of the discussion, expansion into other realms will also be considered.

A number of recent news articles will be discussed and analyzed for textual and linguistic differences.  These articles will then be compared based on diction and structure—and the differences between the characterizations of male and female politicians will be discussed in the context of the current-day academic literature on the subject. Most literature seems to suggest that female politicians face numerous struggles, particularly on the campaign trail (Baird 2004).

Female politicians are more likely to be criticized based on appearance, and female politicians are also more likely to be personally attacked for their political views than their male counterparts, according to the current research (Brooks 2011; Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003). This discussion will investigate how insidious these differences are in everyday news media, and what their general effect has been on the evolution of women’s role in politics.

Women in the Media: Characterizations of Political Women in Modern Media

Around the world, politics has long been a game that has focused on men and the interaction of men who share positions of power (Baird 2004).  Women who are in powerful positions must be very careful in the way they present themselves and the power that they exude; these women must be simultaneously powerful enough to command presence and attention, but also feminine enough to not draw the ire of the media (Baird 2004).  As can be seen in the discussion of a number of recent articles from the Associated Press and other Australian news sources, the characterization of male and female politicians is subtly but clearly very different.

A Staff Writer from the AAP wrote an article on the Human Rights Commission president Gillian, a woman who is not even a career politician (Staff Writer 2016). This writer reports on the words Professor Triggs used during her hearing, and then reports that Triggs “…believed that she had been quoted inaccurately in an interview…” (Staff Writer 2016). The response to Professor Triggs’ statements was harsh: politicians were calling for her to be recalled, and some even claimed that these kinds of misstatements were proof of her character (Staff Writer 2016).  In this document, a diction and textual analysis will be used and compared with words used to describe male politically-active figures.  The purpose of this analysis is to examine the current media presentation of men and women in positions of authority, and examine the ways that these characterizations are different.

Le Messurier (2016) also writes a brief article about a political incident that occurred recently, which focused on Tony Abbott—Abbott is, of course, a male politician, which is what makes the issues associated with his personification very interesting indeed. LeMessurier (2016) is also claiming that he was misquoted or misrepresented in some way; this was one of the primary reasons for choosing this pair of articles for the initial comparison and textual analysis—both individuals are experiencing similar factual treatment for the press (claims of misquoting and truth-twisting), but their words and their personalities have been treated in very different ways (Le Messurier 2016).

Le Messurier (2016) examines the issue with Mr. Abbott in great detail, but one of the most interesting and the treatment of Professor Triggs is very quickly apparent.  Le Messurier (2016) writes “Tony Abbott has claimed he was ‘misrepresented’…” (Le Messurier 2016).  In this case, Le Messurier (2016) uses extensive quotation of Mr. Abbott throughout the piece; the Staff Writer who crafted the other piece, however, integrated very few direct quotes from Professor Triggs (Staff Writer 2016).

Interestingly, Professor Triggs is being attacked in the media because she dared to claim that many of Australia’s male leaders do not have an excellent grasp of many of the political issues that they deal with on a daily basis (Staff Writer 2016). While she is not an elected official, she acts in a political capacity, and it is natural that the press would run her words. However, many within the government and outside of it are calling for her to be recalled or even fired as a result of her statements—many of which she has since qualified and attempted to better explain (Staff Writer 2016).

Alternatively, in the Dunlevy (2016) article, much can be learned about the way that both male and female politicians are treated in the text.  It is important to note that none of these authors are openly disparaging towards female politicians as a whole; however, despite the tacit support for female politicians and political activity, there are still very clear differences in the way that male and female politicians are treated within the text (Dunlevy 2016). There are even differences in the ways that the photos of female politicians are used in the text; these differences are very interesting, and they go beyond this small collection of articles. It is the contention of this discussion that there is an undercurrent of difference in expectation for male and female politicians in Australia and the world as a whole; in fact, gender differences that are very pronounced in society at large can be characterized as even more pronounced in the political world (Brooks 2011; Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003).

Generally, in each of the articles that were discussed, an interesting trend emerged.  Female politicians’ statements were quoted—that is, whole sentences and larger pieces of information from their writing and from interviews were included in the text (Staff Writer 2016; Dunlevy 2016; Le Messurier 2016).  Male politicians had quotes that were integrated into the text; the authors of the news articles seemed to feel more comfortable integrating male politicians into the very fabric of the text. In addition, female politicians and politically active women who made mistakes and misstatements to the press and to other politicians were lambasted as having questionable character. However, when male politicians—like PM Tony Abbott, for instance—made ostensibly grievous misstatements to the press, no character questions were asked regarding his personality and his efficiency for office (Staff Writer 2016; Dunlevy 2016; Le Messurier 2016).

Theoretical Framework

One of the most interesting trends suggested by the literature is that the way that women are portrayed in the media—particularly female politicians—and the way that they are compared to their male counterparts is actively changing (Braden 2015).  While female politicians used to be heavily lambasted for failing to “look the part,” today there is more of a focus on appearance in general—that is, both male and female politicians must conform more strictly to particular appearance guidelines, but these guidelines do not change based on gender (Esser 2013; Kittilson and Fridkin 2008; Braden 2015).

This document has presented a limited analysis of the ways that female candidates are treated in contrast to the ways that male candidates and politicians are treated, but the research seems to suggest that there are still very distinct differences between female and male political candidates—particularly insofar as a conceptualization of their character and personality traits are concerned (Street 2004; Esser 2013; Kittilson and Fridkin 2008; Braden 2015).

          Gender Roles

Western society as a whole is moving away from traditional gender roles for men and women, but it is still more acceptable for women to take up the mantle of male gender roles than vice versa (Street 2004; Esser 2013; Kittilson and Fridkin 2008; Braden 2015).  Thus, it is sometimes easier for a female politician to be seen as strong and masculine within the context of an event or within the context of her campaign than it is for a male politician to be seen as sensitive (Braden 2015). Gender roles might be relaxing in today’s society, but they have not been abandoned completely.  Female politicians still face questions if they are too focused on their career and not focused enough on their family or their appearance (Brooks 2011; Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003).

Female politicians who are married with families often find the need to publically play the role of wife and mother, regardless of the actual structure and makeup of their family unit (Brooks 2011; Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003). If, for instance, a female politician has a husband who is the primary caregiver for their child or children, that politician will still need to present the appearance of being a significant influence in her children’s’ lives, or face potential backlash within the press (Adcock 2010).  In the articles discussed here, it is easy to see how quickly the press moves to question the character of women active in the political world: potential misstatements to the press are enough to call Professor Triggs’ entire testimony before the government into question, for instance (Staff Writer 2016).

          Celebrity and Politics

The growth of the media in all different forms in modern life has had an interesting effect on politicians as a whole. To a certain extent, politicians have always led public lives; however, now politicians live much more publically than ever before. In many ways, politicians have become celebrities, existing for the entertainment of the masses, and the masses thrive on drama and excitement (Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003).  In generations past, if a politician were to make a political gaffe in a statement to the press, it was likely to get some press, and it is even possible that the politician might face significant repercussions.  However, today, the Internet never forgets: every mistake is tossed to the people, where they are analyzed and re-analyzed over and over again. The media might hint at differences between male and female politicians, but people with more extreme viewpoints might take to Twitter or Facebook or another social media platform and begin to spread memes, images, and articles that attack female politicians for their politics (Braden 2015).

The article associated with Professor Triggs is an excellent example of the new-media machine. The article was written by an anonymous member of the press corps, who then turned it loose to the Internet; the Twitter account of Senator Abetz is even quoted in the article (Staff Writer 2016). By clicking through to Twitter, it is easy to see—using the search parameters “#triggs”—that Professor Triggs is being lambasted and even having her character attacked as a result of this article and the subsequent articles written.  Some examples are below.

 

The Role of Masculinity as Standard in Politics

Interestingly, one of the side-effects of integrating female politicians into the mainstream seems to be that there are now similar expectations for male and female candidates—but female politicians are also largely held to the standards of their male counterparts, rather than vice versa (Caldas-Coulthard 2003). Rather than being able to be both feminine and powerful, female politicians often must take up the mantle and the appearance of masculine power—this is the kind of power and prestige that allows a female candidate to be elected into office (Brooks 2011; Braden 2015).

Female politicians must appear powerful in moderately masculine ways:

  • strong posture,
  • strong diction,
  • and an appearance of aloof behavior are all important for the success of female politicians (Braden 2015).

Interestingly, and perhaps paradoxically, female politicians are also expected to be “softer” than their male counterparts in some ways (Brooks 2011). When something traumatic happens to a community, female politicians must exude a sense of power—but not too much power, or these individuals risk being ostracized by the press and by the community as a whole for being unfeeling and too removed from the suffering of the people (Brooks 2011). In terms of the presentation and perception of power, it is clear that female politicians are required to walk a very fine line between commanding power and being seen as feminine individuals (Street 2004; Esser 2013; Kittilson and Fridkin 2008; Braden 2015).

If female politicians stray too far from the line, they can easily be ousted from their position by the media, which is immensely powerful in colouring the public’s perception of politicians (Brooks 2011; Badaheur 2013; Herrnson, Lay and Stokes 2003). In the article regarding Tony Abbott, Mr. Abbott was quoted extensively, and some of the diction he used was quite aggressive—towards other politicians, the press, and even towards the government in general (Le Messurier 2016).  However, PM Abbott’s character was never attacked during the course of the article; although he claims that he was misquoted by the press, he and Professor Triggs do not share the same consideration by the press or the people as a whole. He seems to be given the benefit of the doubt, while she is lambasted for the misunderstanding and is accused of lacking personal integrity (Staff Writer 2016; Le Messurier 2016).

Discussion and Conclusions

The subtlety of the differences between the treatment of male and female politicians seems to suggest that these differences are the result of ingrained bias on the part of society as a whole (Adcock 2010).  While there are still many people who believe that men and women are not and should not be equal, the vast majority of people have moved beyond this kind of thought; however, western society is still only two to three generations removed from a time when women could not vote, let alone hold office (Adcock 2010).  It makes sense, then, that female politicians would be sometimes unfairly affected by the lingering bias of society as a whole. Interestingly, there seems to be a general trend for both male and female politicians that put more weight on issues like appearance than ever before (Campbell and Wolbrecht 2006).

Female politicians face a difficult battle with the media, but research seems to suggest that the battle is ever-evolving. In today’s world, bias and inequality between the sexes is nearly so cut and dried as it might have been in the past. Women are no longer barred from holding office or voting, for instance; there are no legal restrictions that bind women and keep them from pursuing their own dreams and goals. However, this does not mean that bias and gender differences have been completely bled out of society as a whole (Gauntlett 2008).  In the (admittedly limited) sample of news articles taken from modern-day news sources, differences between the treatment of male and female politicians can be seen quite easily.

 

Bibliography

Adcock, C., 2010. The Politician, The Wife, The Citizen, and her Newspaper: Rethinking women, democracy, and media (ted) representation. Feminist Media Studies, 10(2), pp.135-159.

Badaheur, N. (2013). How Male And Female Politicians Are Treated Differently. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/08/women-in-politics-media-coverage_n_3561723.html [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Baird, J., 2004. Media tarts: How the Australian press frames female politicians. Scribe Pub.

Braden, M., 2015. Women politicians and the media. University Press of Kentucky.

Brooks, D.J., 2011. Testing the double standard for candidate emotionality: Voter reactions to the tears and anger of male and female politicians. The Journal of Politics, 73(02), pp.597-615.

Caldas-Coulthard, C.R., 2003. Cross-cultural representation of ‘otherness’ in media discourse. In Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 272-296). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Campbell, D.E. and Wolbrecht, C., 2006. See Jane run: Women politicians as role models for adolescents. Journal of Politics, 68(2), pp.233-247.

Dunlevy, S. 2016. Govt pushes on with Medicare payment overhaul. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/turnbull-government-presses-on-with-medicare-payment-overhaul/news-story/56cea4e3caa30f7d80a0292739ec814b [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Esser, F., 2013. Mediatization as a challenge: Media logic versus political logic. In Democracy in the Age of Globalization and Mediatization (pp. 155-176). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Gauntlett, D., 2008. Media, gender and identity: An introduction. Routledge.

Herrnson, P.S., Lay, J.C. and Stokes, A.K., 2003. Women running “as women”: candidate gender, campaign issues, and votertargeting strategies. Journal of Politics, 65(1), pp.244-255.

Kittilson, M.C. and Fridkin, K., 2008. Gender, candidate portrayals and election campaigns: A comparative perspective. Politics & Gender, 4(03), pp.371-392.

Le Messurier, D. 2016. PM contradicts Abbott over gun law. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/current-affairs/leigh-sales-grills-tony-abbott-his-tweet-about-gun-laws/news-story/bbcd902299b7ed29cfd86f3aa25063ba [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Staff Writer. 2016. Triggs’ integrity questioned by Coalition MPs. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/national/coalition-grills-human-rights-chief-julian-triggs-over-misleading-senate-committee-evidence/news-story/fa3d0d00d588c3572b8b0738629bb835 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Street, J., 2004. Celebrity politicians: popular culture and political representation. The British journal of politics and international relations, 6(4), pp.435-452.

 

Who’s to blame for the gender pay gap?

By Cheryl Li

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The ideology of gender equality has been promoted after the World War II. It aims to make everyone receive equal treatment and oppose any discrimination against someone’s sexuality. The movement is mainly based on the development of women’s liberation and advocates women should own the same rights as men. Although the promotion of this ideology may have changed the majority’s minds and female in the society have received proper respect, there are still many aspects in mundane life showing inequality between men and women. One thing is the gender pay gap appearing in the workplace. Since women have long been encouraged to take a professional job and get into the management, it is such an ironic phenomenon that they cannot get paid as same as men. Every year, the equal pay day is a symbolic festival that reflects how far into the year women have to work in order to catch up with what men earned in the previous year. The exact date will be different by year and country. Australia celebrates the equal pay day on 8th September this year. Former Prime Minister John Howard said in an interview on the eve of the day that there will not be an equal portion of women and men in the government because women “play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role in our communities which inevitably place some limits on their capacity”. An opinion piece was then published the day after on the Sydney Morning Herald called “It’s time to dispel the myth that women’s choices cause the gender pay gap”. The author, Celeste Liddle, accuses John Howard of using his statement as an excuse for his party failed to improve female representation and indicates the situation of gender pay gap presented by several studies.

Of cause, we can find a lot of reports that illustrate the scale of gender pay gap when we search the keyword. It is unnecessary to argue that there is no such gap between men and women, even some men say they have received the same salary as women who are in the same position. Therefore, the question will concentrate on how large the gap truly is and whether the fight against gender inequality has made progress.

After reviewing several news reports and opinions pieces, I find that there are many different manifestations showing the pay gap. Additionally, it is interesting to see many news reports indicate a negative situation but still believe a positive future. This paper will analyse two hard news reports, it will consider the evaluative language, transitivity and the choices of quoted source.

I choose to analyse news journalism because while opinion pieces often contain strong reprehensive purpose, the news articles do not or cannot have personal opinions. That is why news journalism items may hardly create resonance among readers, but whether this means they will not have a main theme that help to determine the content? Through analysing these news articles, I find that though media coverage on gender pay gap points out the serious situation of inequality, it is likely to ignore to mention what has caused this issue and position the readers to take a positive view for the future.

I have chosen two news report from two distinct news organizations and countries. Their reports are based on the UK and Australia. The first news report, “Gender pay gap to remain until 2069, report says”, is from BBC published on 24th September 2016. It is one typical representative of the most objective and neutral reports. The language in this news article strictly complies with the rule of unbiasedness and partiality.

“The gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2069 based on current salary progression, research suggests.”

“Among those professions with the most pronounced difference was health care, where women earned £24,000 on average in graduate starting salaries, compared with £28,000 for men – a difference 14%, the report said.”

The two sentences clearly state the result found in the study and has used moderate verb “suggest” and “said”. This reflects BBC stands at the neutral position to present a fact come from research, the difference of salary between men and women is indicated as just number and percentage. There is no evaluation that judges whether these data are normal or magnified; therefore, it depends on how readers think of this issue in the first place. If they have imaged that there is a huge gap at present between men and women, they may feel 2069 seems not to be far to approach and 14% is even less than one fifth. On the other hand, if a reader currently is experiencing the unfairness or has expected that the developed countries should have eliminated gender pay gap, they will be surprised to take the knowledge that it may need another 50 years to make female equal to male. This BBC report then is free of evaluative language that comments on the topic itself, but later we can see how the choices of modal verbs and quotes imply the central point of this news report.

“It said more women should be encourage into science and technology jobs, where salaries are more balanced but women make up just 14.4% of the workforce.”

The author also choses to quote a mathematical biologist, Helen Byrne, at the University of Oxford who recommends there should be more female role models in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries.

“I think often children in schools don’t really understand what it’s like to be a maths professions.”

“What I do isn’t what I imagined a mathematician did when I was at school. It’s much fun.”

The article starts to distract attention here and miss the point of reporting the serious pay gap between women and men. Apparently it is the research that has found there are less pay inequality in STEM related jobs but instead of just reporting it, the author intends to take a step further. By offering the recommendation that encourages more women to work in the STEM professions, the article tries to fuzz up the point and divert people’s attention from gender pay gap to another measurement that may help to improve the problem. But will it be really helpful? The answer probably is no. While only using one sentence to explain that the reason of gender pay gap is complicated to explain, the author gives no space to illustrate what has caused the pay gap. A large paragraph is used to provide a plausible recommendation which is irrelevant to the topic. Although it is true that there need to be more women working in the STEM industry, this cannot be an outlet for gender pay gap and the problem is still existing. By analysing transitivity in this report, it shows the “victim”, women, often become the subject of a sentence so the sentences often employ passive voice. It is noticeable that the author blurs the party in fault, though the real one ought to be blamed remains complex and sophisticated. Additionally, we can find a positive attitude towards the future development when the author uses quotes from a manager of the study and a government spokeswomen.

“A great deal of progress has been made in the past half century.”

“The gender pay gap is the lowest on record but we are committed to eliminating it completely in a generation.”

This reflects the report aims to lead readers to take an optimistic attitude and have the faith towards gender pay gap, especially the quotes from the government spokeswomen seems to be inserted at a sudden without any preparation. Her quotes used to terminate the news can be regarded as the only responses from the government. It tends to show the aspect that the government has made multiple effects to solve this problem so the gap has become less. The purpose is to let readers feel confident that the pay gap will be eliminated some day. However, the central idea of the quotes is also about more girls should study STEM subjects, which again may be a distraction of the topic.

The second news items, “Australian men paid an average of 20 per cent more than women”, illustrates the situation in the Australian workplace that was published on 23rd August 2016 at ABC.com.au.

“Men in Australia are still paid on average about 20 per cent more than women, according to a workforce diversity specialist, with figures from the Australian Council of Trade Unions showing the gender pay gap has grown steadily over the last decade.”

The lead shows a surprised tone when reporting the data by using “still” and “steadily”. This implies the author assumes the average reader thinks of there is just a little difference on salary by gender and will be shocked to know the percentage is 20. It then focuses on the accounting firms particularly, which makes the accounting firms become “attacker” when addressing the transitivity.

“Mr Liveris claims top accounting firms are paying men and women differently for the same roles with pay gaps ranging from 1 to 5 per cent.”

The agent in the sentence is clearly indicated as top accounting firms and then the author tries to interview Deloitte but they declined. Thus the accused party become a specific company, Deloitte, that is blamed for causing the pay gap.

We have eliminated any gender pay gaps at this level on a like for like experience.”

It then quotes a written statement of Deloitte in which they explain the reason of gender pay gap occurring in their senior job level. Instead of put the goal “gender pay gap” as the subject, the statement highlights the agent “We” (Deloitte) and uses positive voice to show the process of “eliminating”.

“Mr Liveris said he was encouraged by Deloitte’s willingness to change.”

Following this quote, the author then puts Deloitte as the affected and states a positive evaluation. What Mr Liveris then says is that he believes the firms like Deloitte are working on the pay gap and supports their actions. Here we can still see an optimistic attitude regarding the future development while later it mentions Australia, though the gender pay gap has grown steadily over the last decade, has “declined in the Global Gender Gap Index from 15th in 2006 to 36th 2015”. On the other hand, this report gives more space to elaborate any possible reasons that have caused the issue and they come from the quotes from Mr Liveris. It is interesting that this report uses Mr Liveris as the only one who contributes to the quotes. The explanations are not exacted from the study but his knowledge as he is a workforce diversity specialist. He then as well mentions the problem that there are only 20 per cent of women in management and we should let more women get access to these roles. The author uses this idea to conclude the news, which seems to be an avocation towards the public. It is noticeable by reading the item that the focus has transferred from the pay gap to the effects companies have made and to the issue of sexual discrimination. It looks like there are many wrong thoughts and unfair phenomena existing in the current workplaces but readers still do not know why the pay gap is still 20 percent and they are asked to believe the progress has been made.

 

After analysing the two news items, it shows hard news today will care more about the language they use and position they are standing. They have shown a partial and unbiased manner in terms of reporting the issue without personal evaluation. The news organizations today are different from those companies 20 years ago which may have a tendentious standpoint. That is why we can expect to get access to the true information and the real data from news journalism and will not worry that the truth may be distorted or concealed. However, it is interesting to note that the news journalism items considered in this discussion are likely to present facts that how gender pay gap has been improved and remind readers of the optimistic future. We can continue to realize this trend by seeing news reports’ titles like “Gender pay gap falls to 6.2% as Government backs scheme to retrain women”. That is to say even the news journalism is factual and neutral, there is a potential kernel that they will follow. These news reports have all identified the pay gap between men and women but they still choose to believe the situation is getting better and want every reader to believe as well. The reason for doing this perhaps is that they want to convey a positive idea to the audience and tell them the situation will not be worse. Unlike opinions pieces which have a certain target to blame, the news items choose to elide the direct censure. However, only if the society is willing to face the real causes the problem can thus be solved. Informing the data and facts to the public is far away to know what is wrong and how this can be fixed. While the news reports are trying to lead readers to take a positive attitude towards gender pay gap, it is more important for news journalists to elaborate the reasons behind as they are in more advantageous conditions compared with view journalism authors.

 

References:

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/john-howard-women-have-limits-on-capacity-in-politics/news-story/a0ad49697ac9576755fe8858083f238e

 

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/opinion/its-time-to-dispel-the-myth-that-womens-choices-cause-the-gender-pay-gap-20160907-grb9bd.html

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37460778

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-22/gender-pay-gap-alive-and-thriving-in-australia/7775244

 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/14824219.Gender_pay_gap_falls_to_6_2__as_Government_backs_scheme_to_retrain_women/?ref=rss

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/08/its-equal-pay-day-it-took-us-69-extra-days-to-catch-up-to-the-men

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/how-common-sense-shows-gender-pay-gap-is-a-myth/news-story/6f7f2be3ec8c56484f83b798ff6d548f

 

 

 

Did Dreamworld’s tragic accident become a personal attack on Ardent’s chief executive Deborah Thomas?

Second Media Analysis Article by Andriana Simos (z5061608, F10A)

In the wake of the deaths of four people on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids Ride, media attention has turned to Dreamworld’s owner, Ardent Leisure. Over the past few days, the Australian mainstream media has arguably represented the handling of the situation as a total public relations disaster after Ardent’s chief executive, Deborah Thomas, announced that she was yet to talk to the victims’ families two days after the event. In addition to this, many of the articles blasted Thomas after it was made public that she would still receive her $840 000 performance bonus despite the fatal accident at the Gold Coast theme park.

With all this in mind, the first part of this article will provide a brief background of the deadly accident before focusing on a close analysis of both objective and subjective news reports on the issue. These include: Antoinette Lattouf’s piece ‘Dreamworld Deaths: can the company’s leaders save the now-maligned theme park?,’ and Rachel Smalley’s article ‘Dreamworld horror show: ‘crisis management at its worst’,’ Additionally, the article will also look at Darvall and Geary’s article ‘Dreamworld boss’ $4MILLION shelter from the storm,’ as well as Keane’s piece  ‘Why should Dreamworld owner’s boss keep her $800 000 bonus? Because she earned it.’ Therefore, by analysing all these, the various representations of Deborah Thomas will be explored and it will become clear that in most articles, the readers are attitudinally positioned through words and images to take a negative view of how she dealt with the tragedy.

The Dreamworld accident will forever be remembered as a “family tragedy” after four people on the Rapids Ride were killed when their raft flipped over backwards into a wooden conveyor belt, crushing them underneath. Canberra mother Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett, his partner Roozi Araghi and Sydney mother Cindy Low, were later identified as the victims.

The victims of Dreamworld's tragedy (from left to right): Roozi Araghi, Luke Dorsett, Kate Goodchild and Cindy Low.
The victims of Dreamworld’s tragedy (from left to right): Roozi Araghi, Luke Dorsett, Kate Goodchild and Cindy Low.

However, before the proper “mourning period” could begin, the Australian media turned their attention to Ardent Leisure’s shocking announcement that they would still be rewarding Deborah Thomas with her “performance bonus of $840 000.” What followed was public and media criticism to the point whereby, Thomas later backtracked and announced that she would donate $167 500 of her cash bonus to the Australian Red Cross. The well-renowned charity would then distribute the money to those affected by Tuesday’s tragedy including the daughters of Kate Goodchild.

Now, the question here is whether Thomas willingly donated her bonus in the wake of the tragedy, or whether she was influenced by the media’s criticism in the days following the accident?

In order to provide an answer to this question in some way, there will now be an analysis of articles from the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, the New Zealand Herald, the Daily Mail and ABC News. These articles will reveal the various representations of Thomas and Ardent Leisure and we will then be able to determine whether any of this media coverage may have influenced her decision to donate part of her cash bonus.

Let us start with Antoinette Lattouf’s piece, ‘Dreamworld Deaths: can the company’s leaders save the now-maligned theme park?’ on ABC’s news website (28 October 2016). This analysis opinion piece is an interesting example of the way “subjective” views journalism articles use both explicit and implicit language in order to position the readers to form a negative view of Deborah Thomas and Ardent Leisure.

The articles opening sentence, otherwise known as the lead, gives readers an insight into Lattouf’s central claim and argument right from the very beginning. She writes:

          “Ardent Leisure Group’s biggest hurdle is rebuilding the public’s trust in Australia’s biggest theme park after four people were killed at Dreamworld on Tuesday.”

The choice of words such as “biggest hurdle” and “rebuilding the public’s trust,” work under the assumption that the public have lost faith in Dreamworld and as a result, it is Ardent’s job to regain this trust. However, it is here where Lattouf’s article becomes more ironic. This is because although she does begin the article by describing the “hurdle” faced by Ardent Leisure, she follows on from this by revealing the idea that they actually handled the “hurdle” unprofessionally. This is evident as she states:

            “And at the helm of this disaster is the company’s CEO and chairman- the two high-profiled media figures boasting more than 60 years’ experience between them.

          “Yet paradoxically, the fallout from the country’s worst theme park incident since 1979 has been a public relations disaster.”

The juxtaposition between Deborah Thomas’ “60 years’ of experience” in the media and how the tragedy became “a public relations disaster,” is a persuasive technique used by Lattouf in order to frame Thomas a certain way. In fact, the reference to Thomas’ experience with the media gives off the impression that she should be media and tech-savvy, as well as experienced in handling Ardent’s “biggest hurdle.” However, this becomes ironic as although Lattouf describes Thomas’ media experience and skills as given character attributes, she then disputes her own assumptions by stating that the public relations aspect of the tragedy was actually handled poorly. In fact, further down in her article, Lattouf demonstrates how Thomas was facing condemnation for failing to contact the victims’ families straight away and for “still” receiving a performance bonus of up to $840 000. As a result, it is clear that Lattouf is implicitly implying that although Thomas is an experienced media personality, this does not mean that all her skills were relevant or utilised efficiently when dealing with the Dreamworld “family tragedy.” Thus, through her choice of words and the juxtaposition, it is clear that the readers are positioned to take a negative view of Thomas as a supposedly experienced media personality who failed to produce results.

In fact, this negative view of the way the situation was handled is widely spread across many articles published by the Australian mainstream media. One specific example which demonstrates this idea, is an “objective” news journalism item by Emma Reynolds (from news.com.au) entitled ‘‘We thought we were doing the right thing’: Ardent CEO.’ Her choice of the world “finally” in:

          “She finally visited the Gold Coast theme park…”

and the direct quote by the victim’s brother, Mr Simon Araghi, who said:

          “I finally got a call… but… I would have preferred the call a lot earlier,”

have been selectively included by Reynolds. This is evident as the words and quote have negative connotations attached to them and the evaluations are with respect to Thomas’ competence. Specifically, these extracts seem to suggest that Thomas’ delay in contacting the victims’ families and in visiting Dreamworld reveals her incompetence and inexperience. Consequently, although Reynolds has conveyed this evaluation indirectly through implication and the words of quoted sources, it is still clear that the readers are positioned to take a negative view of Thomas’ actions.

Moreover, another example of the calculated choice of words to subtly imply a negative opinion of Thomas can be found in Rachel Olding and Felicity Caldwell’s Sydney Morning Herald article ‘Dreamworld accident: Theme parks’ future ‘in doubt’ after four deaths.’ The word “finally” is utilised again in:

          “She was asked whether she had finally reached out to the families of the victims following a fiery press conference on Thursday in which the mother of two victims disputed her claim they had made contact.”

This word choice also has a negative undertone as it suggests that she had left it too late to contact the victims’ families and people were getting impatient to know if she “finally” had.

Furthermore, now that the writers have established that the Dreamworld tragedy was a public relations disaster, we come to the most interesting and common feature of commentary on this issue: the personal attack on Thomas as she deals with the aftermath of the announcement that she would likely receive a performance bonus just days after the Dreamworld tragedy.

Let us turn to Rachel Smalley’s, ‘Dreamworld horror show: ‘crisis management at its worst’,’ which is an opinion piece published in The New Zealand Herald. This piece is a more “subjective” views journalism piece and as a result, it differs from those by Reynolds, Olding and Caldwell. In fact, although Smalley also positions the readers to view Thomas negatively, she does this explicitly rather than implicitly.

This is particularly evident through the mixture of rhetorical questions and ironic tone in:

          “Why on earth would Dreamworld speak to the media about the tragedy, before speaking to the families who’d lost loved ones in such horrific circumstances? Thomas said she’d had some difficulty locating contact details. Just extraordinary. And then the conversation switched to her bonus.”

The truncated sentence in “just extraordinary,” is a persuasive mechanism which carries a tone of irony and disgust with it. This ironic tone explicitly positions the reader to once again view the way Thomas responded to the tragic deaths in a negative way. In addition to this, the rhetorical question implies a particular behaviour which is expected of Thomas- one where she should have spoken to the victims’ families before contacting the media. In fact, as Smalley does not argue for this particular behaviour through any appeal to facts or statistics, it is clear that she is treating it as a given and universally accepted way of dealing with a tragedy such as Dreamworld’s. In this way, if Smalley’s readers do take her evaluation of Thomas’ actions for granted, then she effectively has persuaded them to think negatively about her behaviour.

Further to this, Smalley’s choice of words and phrases also provide a not so favourable evaluation of Thomas.  Specifically, the use of negative adjectives in comments such as: “this is crisis management at its worst,” “handled this appallingly,” and “failed to convey just how serious the situation is,” position the readers to view the crisis management unfavourably. This is because Smalley has deliberately chosen to make an explicit evaluation of the ethics surrounding the tragedy’s management, which makes it difficult for her readers to form their own opinion.

Now, although this continuous use of negative adjectives is not supported by any justification, Smalley’s article does have a video of the media conference attached. This video focuses on the part where Thomas says that “now is not the right time to talk about transactions,” whilst the rest of the conference has been edited out. By doing this, Smalley provides some form of justification for her article. Particularly, a sense of irony is attached to Thomas’ statement as it was Ardent Leisure’s decision to announce her performance bonus at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and then suddenly she seems reluctant to talk about it. Therefore, it becomes clear that Smalley chose this specific extract from the conference to subtly characterise Thomas as a hypocrite who plans the announcement of her own bonus and then is adamant to ignore the criticism she receives for it. Smalley then leaves this representation open for her readers and viewers to infer their own negative attitudinal opinions about Thomas’ actions.

In addition, another example which uses a similar video as a representation of Thomas’ actions and comments at the AGM is Rachel Olding’s SMH article ‘Dreamworld accident: Ardent Leisure chief executive Deborah Thomas donates bonus to Red Cross.’ Although the article itself is more “objective,” it is interesting to see that Olding has also used a video which has a negative undertone about Thomas. Thus, it is clear that although some media coverage operates “objectively” and the other “subjectively,” the use of videos and graphics are an effective way to achieve similar attitudinal outcomes.

To demonstrate this further, let us also take a closer look at an “objective” news journalism piece by Kate Darvall and Belinda Grant Geary which was published in the Daily Mail. It was entitled: ‘Dreamworld boss’ $4MILLION shelter from the storm: Incredible waterfront penthouse of Deborah Thomas- as she comes under fire for ‘$800k bonus’.’

This headline is a clever persuasive mechanism used by the writers in order to implicitly reveal their standpoint from the very beginning. In fact, the capitalisation of “$4MILLION” and the play on words where Thomas is sheltered by “the storm” she created, effectively creates an idea of her rich and extravagant lifestyle. These attributes are then carried throughout the article with continuous references to her wealth and penthouse. This is evident here:

          “Dreamworld boss Deborah Thomas came under fire on Thursday over the theme parks handling of the Thunder River Rapids tragedy- but at least she has somewhere beautiful to go and escape the storm.”

          “Thomas, 60, owns a $4 million penthouse apartment in perhaps Australia’s most exclusive harbour-front suburb of Point Piper.”

By focusing on Thomas’ wealth, the authors have chosen a very different angle to all the other articles mentioned above. However, it must be noted that this angle still effectively represents Thomas in a negative light as she is characterised as unconcerned with the tragedy. In fact, this unconcerned attitude is particularly evident as the writers add the sarcastic comment- “but at least she has somewhere beautiful to go and escape the storm.” Therefore, although this article is supposedly an “objective” news report, the inclusion of this comment and the description of her “penthouse apartment,” is an implicit evaluation of Thomas’ characteristics. This then results in an attitudinal positioning of the readers, whereby, they accept these attributes of wealth as a given, leading them to conclude that Thomas is actually more concerned with her personal wealth than the death of four people.

This representation of Thomas’ wealth is also reflected in one of the article’s accompanying photos.

wealthy-deborah-thomas

In this almost full-length shot, Deborah Thomas is the main focus or focal point of the image. She is wearing a regal dress, covered in expensive-looking jewellery and a turban coated in diamonds and beading. In addition, the accompanying caption describes how she receives “a total salary package of more than $1.3 million” as a chief executive at Ardent Leisure. As a result, the image clearly compliments the article’s main angle as the readers are forced to look at actual visual evidence of Thomas’ wealth.

Last but not least, an analysis of Anthony Keane’s article, ‘Why should Dreamworld owner’s boss keep her $800 000 bonus? Because she earned it,’ also provides some insightful representations of Thomas. The opinion piece, published in The Daily Telegraph, differs from the others as Thomas is characterised in a positive way through Keane’s principle claim that Thomas “earned” her bonus.  This is further emphasised through his appeal to comparison in:

             “Asking Deborah Thomas, the chief executive of Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure Group, to give up her nearly $850 000 performance bonus in the wake of this theme park’s tragedy is like asking any one of us to hand back the wages we received last year.”

and the appeal to authority and statistics in:

          “As Ardent chairman Neil Balnaves pointed out today, the performance bonus was based on the company’s results for the previous financial year. That was a year in which revenue rose 16 per cent and operating profit rose almost 19 per cent.”

Although these claims may not be easily accepted by readers as they go against the majority of media coverage available on the issue, Keane does provide some new information which the other articles analysed above failed to provide. Particularly, through the use of facts, Keane describes how although holding the AGM and announcing the bonus “just two days after the tragedy was unfortunate timing,” the company was actually “legally bound to hold it.” Therefore, by referring to this in his article, Keane has provided his readers with a more positive evaluation of Thomas’ behaviour as she was actually forced to hold the AGM and announce her bonus whether she wanted to or not.

Furthermore, Keane’s choice of video is also quite insightful. Similar to Smalley’s opinion piece, Keane chose to attach an extract of the media conference where Thomas says that “it was not really the time to be discussing” her bonus.

Although these two videos are almost identical, in the context of the articles themselves, the meanings attached to them are very different. As mentioned, Thomas is represented as a hypocrite in the video attached to Smalley’s article. Contrastingly, the video used by Keane has more positive attributes attached to it where Thomas’ intent to avoid the questions about her bonus actually comes across as compassion- she would rather be talking about the victims than an AGM which she was forced to take part in by law. Thus, it becomes clear that videos are another persuasive mechanism which can position a reader in a certain way, particularly if they subscribe to the argument being put forward by the writer.

To conclude, a comparison of media materials relating to the Dreamworld “family tragedy,” has made it clear that most people were furious at the way in which Deborah Thomas handled the situation. Although Keane’s article does give a positive evaluation of the situation, this is clearly overshadowed by the more frequently negative representations of Deborah and her attitude towards the event. Therefore, it is clear that in the days following the accident, most representations of Thomas could be classified as “negative” and in some cases, a personal attack on her wealth and extravagant lifestyle. Whether these evaluations then influenced Thomas’ decision to donate part of her cash bonus is hard to determine, however, it could be argued that this negative media coverage did play a part in her decision.

References:

Proposal for Media Analysis Article 2

By Andriana Simos (z061608, F10A)

  1. The topic/subject area or personality you are proposing to deal with in your 2nd written assignment.

For my second assignment, I will be analysing the different representations of Deborah Thomas who is the chief executive of Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld. I will focus on her as a personality as she has recently come under fire following the Dreamworld ride tragedy. Specifically, I will look at a mixture of both “objective” and “subjective” articles in order to show the various opinions and attitudes towards Deborah’s “performance bonus” just days after the accident.

  1. How many articles will you be dealing with? Provide the headline of the items and links.

I will be dealing with 4 articles. These include:

  • ‘Dreamworld accident: Theme park’s future ‘in doubt’ after four deaths’ by Rachel Olding and Felicity Caldwell on October 28, 2016.

http://www.smh.com.au/queensland/dreamworld-accident-theme-parks-future-likely-in-doubt-after-four-deaths-20161028-gsdbf0

  • ‘Dreamworld Accident: Ardent Leisure chief executive Deborah Thomas donates bonus to Red Cross’ by Rachel Olding on October 27, 2016.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/dreamworld-accident-ardent-leisure-chief-executive-deborah-thomas-donates-bonus-to-red-cross-20161027-gscgl4.html

  • ‘Why should Dreamworld owner’s boss keep her $800 000 bonus? She earned it’ by Anthony Keane on October 27, 2016.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/why-should-dreamworld-owners-boss-keep-her-800k-bonus-she-earned-it/news-story/3656b7039435ea5866206c96ff878aba

  • ‘Dreamworld deaths: Can the company’s leaders save the now-maligned theme park?’ by Antoinette Lattouf on October 28, 2017.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-28/dreamworld-deaths:-can-leaders-save-the-now-maligned-theme-park/7975370?section=analysis 

  1. Brief outline of the articles you will be analysing.
  • This article by Olding and Caldwell is an “objective” news report article where the writers try to provide an “unbiased” report on the events as well as the way in which Ardent Leisure has handled the situation. However, regardless of the notion that the article is meant to be objective, it is clear that the writers have chosen specific words such as “backtracked” and “in doubt” in order to position the readers to think about the management in a certain negative light.
  • This piece is another “objective” news writing article, however, its focus is more on Deborah Thomas as an individual. The choice of words and images portray the idea that many people think she handled the situation badly and that the bonus announcement was poorly timed.
  • This article by Keane is a “subjective” opinion piece which surprisingly differs from the other two articles. It suggests that all the criticism surrounding Deborah is not justified as “business” must go on and she “earned” her bonus. He admits that although the timing may be wrong, it is really out of Deborah’ hands as the AGM legally needed to be held.
  • This article is “objective,” however, its choice of words is quite attitudinal and suggestive of the writer’s negative viewpoint of the “public relations disaster.”
  1. What do I anticipate to be my final conclusions?

By analysing all of these articles (both objective and subjective) it will become clear that most writers have a negative opinion of how Ardent Leisure and Deborah Thomas handled the Dreamworld tragedy. Specifically, the choice of words and images position the audience to take a negative view of Deborah and the group.

However, it must be mentioned that Keane’s more “subjective’ piece has a more positive evaluation of the situation and as a result, I will conclude that although some articles do portray Deborah in a negative light, there are also articles which are more positive. Therefore, the readers are able to read these articles and form their own opinion on the issue as the articles being published are not only negative.

media analysis article 4

Gender Bias in Media Communication Regarding Female Politicians

Some recent news articles will be discussed and analyzed for textual and linguistic differences.  These articles will then be compared based on diction and structure—and the differences between the characterizations of male and female politicians will be discussed in the context of the current-day academic literature on the subject. Most pieces \ seems to suggest that female politicians face numerous struggles, particularly on the campaign trail.

The article probably goes to option 2.

Staff Writer. 2016. Triggs’ integrity questioned by Coalition MPs. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/national/coalition-grills-human-rights-chief-julian-triggs-over-misleading-senate-committee-evidence/news-story/fa3d0d00d588c3572b8b0738629bb835 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Le Messurier, D. 2016. PM contradicts Abbott over the gun law. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/current-affairs/leigh-sales-grills-tony-abbott-his-tweet-about-gun-laws/news-story/bbcd902299b7ed29cfd86f3aa25063ba [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Dunlevy, S. 2016. Govt pushes on with Medicare payment overhaul. [online] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/turnbull-government-presses-on-with-medicare-payment-

Bingchen Li

z5077115

Hillary Clinton: Media Item Analysis

For this task, I have chosen to analyse the Democratic Party nominee for U.S. President, Hillary Clinton and her representation on various media platforms such as the New York Times, South China Morning Post, and NewsWeek, Considering the nearing U.S. Election, Clinton would make an ideal subject for character portrayal of the media, especially as a woman politician and with her reported uncomfortable relationship with other big media organisations.

In this analysis I aim to explore how media platforms report on her in association with issues such as her email scandals, her stand on foreign policy, war on terror, foreign ties, medical issues, and other pertinent political topics thrown during the Presidential debate. From this, it is part of the objective to present conclusion-based discussion on whether this media reportage positioned her positively or negatively to the readers / audience.

Link Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/us/politics/wikileaks-hack-hillary-clinton-emails.html?_r=0

http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton-final-debate-foreign-policy-fact-check-511904

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2027728/if-beijing-can-claim-south-china-sea-us-can-call

 

 

 

Are Sydney’s lockout laws really putting an end to violence?

First Media Analysis Article by Andriana Simos (z5061608, F10A)

In January 2014, the Barry O’Farrell government introduced new lockout laws to curb the incidence of alcohol-induced violence. These new laws implemented 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks across the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct and there was also a NSW-wide ban on takeaway alcohol sales after 10pm. At the time, these actions answered a media panic in the wake of the deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie, who succumbed to injuries sustained from drunken coward-punch attacks. Since then, assaults in parts of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Kings Cross have dropped as the lockout laws begin to come into effect. Regardless of this success however, the laws have recently come under fire in the media as Australians question their drastic effects on Sydney’s nightlife.

To emphasise the contentiousness of this issue further, this essay will focus on two opinion pieces both published in February 2016. The first article is by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Rob McEwen, entitled “The silent majority backs Sydney’s lockout laws,” and the second is by the Queensland Times’ Peter Chapman, entitled “Lockout laws a false hope to stop violence.” A thorough analysis of each article reveals the idea that although they vary significantly in their viewpoints, the author’s operate under the same assumptions about their intended audience. In fact, both articles assume a readership which is against the lockout laws as they are having an effect on Sydney’s nightlife and businesses. Therefore, a comparison of these two articles will make these assumptions clearer.

Firstly, the two opinion pieces are distinct not only in writing style but also in the ways in which the issue has been interpreted and evaluated by the author. Specifically, Chapman’s piece is more opinion whereby, he provides limited justifications for his negative assessments of the “young punks” who “booze up before they hit the streets.” By doing this, he is operating on the premise that the readers will share the same venomous view as him and will need no persuading that the lockout laws will do nothing to stop the “punks” from becoming violent. Alternatively, McEwen’s article is a mixture of both opinion and argumentation. This is evident because although McEwen does assume a readership which is against the lockout laws and their effects, he does try to actively argue for his principle claim that the lockout laws have actually reduced the number of incidents surrounding alcohol-related violence. Thus, McEwen’s article is more argumentative than Chapman’s piece, as he uses an appeal to facts and authority to effectively persuade his readers that the laws are in fact a positive policy put forward by the O’Farrell government.

Rob McEwen’s opinion piece, “The silent majority back’s Sydney’s lockout laws,” published by the Sydney Morning Herald, operates under the principal claim that the lockout laws should be supported as they have led to a dramatic drop in alcohol-fuelled assaults around the Sydney region. However, it becomes obvious that although McEwen is opposed to the “vocal minority” who argue against the lockout laws, he still operates with the assumption that most of his readers will come from this minority group. As a result, in order to make a convincing argument which goes against the assumptions of his readership, McEwen uses a number of justifications to support his principle evaluative claim. This is emphasised as he utilises a variety of appeals to authority, statistics and facts in order to get his point across that the laws have actually had a positive effect on Sydney’s nightlife. Specifically, although he describes how there has been a recent uprising of “misguided… comments” from vocal opponents to the laws, his appeal to facts and statistics highlights his belief that these oppositions are out of line. This is evident as he states: “What is beyond doubt, however, is that less access to alcohol results in less violence. For every hour (that) trading hours are reduced, there is about a 20 per cent decrease in assaults.” Therefore, this appeal to statistics effectively supports the primary claim and consequently, the piece is one step closer to convincing the “opponents” or “vocal minority” to agree with McEwen’s point of view.

Furthermore, McEwen’s strongest supportive argument is his continuous appeals to analogy where he compares Sydney’s nightlife to those in Amsterdam and “other large international cities.” In fact, he makes references to these analogies not once but twice throughout the opinion piece. These are evident below.

          “… all I am reading is that Sydney is dead, an assault before 3am is proof that lockout laws don’t work and Amsterdam has reduced assaults by increasing trading hours. Really? Then perhaps someone could explain to me why there is a 34 per cent increase in ambulance call outs in central Amsterdam for alcohol-related injuries since trading hours have been increased by an hour.”

          “You can still get a drink anywhere in the Sydney precinct until 3am. Small bars, most restaurants and accommodation hotels are exempt. How does this compare to other large international cities? Pretty well as it turns out. In Paris most venues close at 2am. In London it’s 3am and in New York, the city that never sleeps, most establishments close at 4am. In California last drinks is 2am, statewide.”

The underlying “logic” here seems to be that those who oppose the lockout laws have no basis for their belief because other countries have stricter laws and in some cases, such as Amsterdam, these laws have been ineffective in reducing alcohol-fuelled violence or injuries. However, as McEwen does not go into further analysis of these comparisons and the “logic” behind them, his argument is relying on the idea that the reader accepts the comparison as valid and that they hold a particular view of the laws. In this case, his presumption about his readers has changed. McEwen assumes they are beginning to agree with his principle claim that the lockout laws should be supported and as a result, he does not feel obligated to support his appeal to comparison with further justification. Consequently, at this stage, McEwen’s piece begins to assume a like-minded audience and therefore, his appeals to comparisons become more effective regardless of whether or not they have been backed up by other appeals.

In addition, further analysis of the piece emphasises this idea that McEwen is dealing with a like-minded audience. In particular, his use of rhetorical questions and pronouns such as “we” and “us,” gives off the impression that he is speaking for his audience rather than towards them. In fact, this is exactly what he does as he states with a clear tone of defiance and determination:

          “We need to ask ourselves, what sort of city do we want? A vibrant, exciting, safe city or a big, ugly threatening city overrun by drunken louts and hoodlums? I know what I prefer.”

          “And to Mike Baird, I’ll say one thing: the majority of the people in this city are behind you – the ones you hear are a vocal minority. Most of us don’t give a stuff if another strip club in the Cross closes!”

These statements are the clearest example of the relationship which McEwen has tried to create with his audience. For these arguments and defiant statements to make sense, the readers must hold a similar view of the laws- a view in which they should not be removed as they have made Sydney a safer environment at night. This is also evident as McEwen’s use of negative adjectives such as “drunken louts” and “hoodlums,” work with the assumption that the readers will take this description of intoxicated individuals for granted. Further to this, the truncated sentence, “I know what I prefer,” is another persuasive mechanism which emphasises McEwen’s belief that his readers have been effectively persuaded to sympathise with his standpoint. Specifically, as McEwen uses this sentence after providing an “either-or argument” between wanting a “vibrant” city or a “threatening city,” this appeals to the readers’ emotions as McEwen presumes they will also “prefer” a safe and “vibrant” city. Therefore, these comparisons and defiant statements make the piece effectively persuasive.

As a result, it is evident that although McEwen initially works with the assumption that his audience is not like-minded, he finally decides that his justifications have convinced his readers to see his point of view. This then leads him to make more generalized statements such as “commentary that suggests the Cross is dead is misleading,” whereby, he provides no supportive justification nor any appeals to statistics or facts. Thus, it is clear that McEwen’s piece is more argumentative than opinion as he formulates the “logic” of his arguments in order to convince a readership, which is not initially like-minded, to agree with his viewpoint that the lockout laws are positively impacting Sydney’s nightlife.

With regards to Peter Chapman’s opinion piece, “Lockout laws a false hope to stop violence,” it is clear that he also assumes a like-minded audience who will agree with his principle claim. In fact, Chapman’s confidence in his readers is clear as he explicitly states this claim, whereby, he believes the lockout laws won’t stop violence as “most youngsters… booze up before they hit the streets.” Regardless of this explicitness however, he does use an appeal to social and ethical norms as well as an appeal to authority, by way of justificatory support for his claim. This is particularly evident as he supports his argument regarding the “young punks” who drink before going out by stating:

          “This fact was backed up in a recent survey at the Gold Coast which revealed that almost 80% of people arriving at the strip to party had already drunk a skin full at home.”

This use of statistics and appeal to the authority of the survey as a persuasive mechanism is quite telling. Such an appeal to authority relies on the reader regarding the statistics and the survey from which they came, as well-informed, credible and honest. As a result, there is an underlying warrant here whereby, expert surveys are considered reliable sources which should be believed. Thus, it is clear that although Chapman is working with the presumption that his audience are of the same view as him, he still feels the need to support his statements in order to make his piece more argumentative and foolproof.

However, it must be noted here that although Chapman does provide this appeal to authority, he fails to provide the specific name of the survey. In this case, his persuasive mechanism becomes less effective than those used in McEwen’s piece, as McEwen provides the specific names of sources such as “Dr Don Weatherburn, director of BOSCAR.”

Alternatively however, it can also be argued that Chapman’s failure to name the survey is actually further proof that he assumes his readers know of such things already and will therefore, take everything he says for granted and at face-value. This is also emphasised through his use of negative adjectives in:

          “Our greatest problem revolves around the violent macho brigade of young men who want to belt the hell out of anyone who looks sideways at them.”

Without providing any argumentative support for this statement, Chapman’s evaluative argument becomes more opinion. He seems to be trying to appeal to the emotions and fears of the readers, however, without any supportive justification it becomes evident that the piece is designed for a like-minded audience who do not need to be persuaded by Chapman.

Furthermore, Chapman also uses an appeal to social and ethical norms in order to support his opposition to the lockout laws. After describing the “problem” of “the macho brigade of young men” who drink before going out, he refers to the “supposedly” widely held belief that only parents and magistrates can stop alcohol-fueled violence in Sydney. This is evident as he states using emotive language:

          “To fix that we need to have the community take a stand against them, have parents who commit to raising their children to show respect and most importantly magistrates who are prepared to lock the idiots up rather than letting them go with a slap on the wrist.”

          “Even one weekend in a maximum security jail will knock the macho out of any young punk.”

Interestingly, this appeal to social and ethical norms is not supported by further evidence and as a result, this is another case in the piece where Chapman presumes his readers will arrive at the same negative view of the “idiots” and “punks.” Thus, it is clear that although Chapman does provide some form of support for his principle claim, in some instances he does not provide enough and his piece becomes more opinion rather than argument.

As a result, Chapman’s piece is a mixture of both opinion and argumentation. However, it must be mentioned that although he does use persuasive mechanisms such as underlying warrants and an appeal to authority, in some cases his personal viewpoint overwhelms the piece. Therefore, this emphasises the idea that Chapman is under the impression that his readers would agree with everything he said and therefore, he did not feel the need to provide as much argumentation as McEwen.

In conclusion, an analysis and comparison of both articles reveals the idea that the authors believe they are catering for a readership who are opposed to the lockout laws. In fact, McEwen initially appeals to those opposed to the laws and uses a variety of persuasive techniques in order to convince his readers to see his central argument. Alternatively, Chapman’s piece is more opinion whereby, he assumes a like-minded readership and feels no need to persuade them as they are already of the same opinion as him. Therefore, although it would not be reasonable to form a number of general conclusions based only on these two articles, a study of each piece suggests an underlying presumption that readers are more likely to disagree with the lockout laws and as a result, McEwen has the more difficult task of convincing his readers otherwise.

Sugar tax in Australia

Sugar tax in Australia

By Cheryl Li

Since Britain announced to join Finland, France, Mexico, South Africa, Finland and Denmark by introducing a tax on sugar, there have been constant debates in Australia on the topic of sugar tax especially after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver posted a video on his Facebook page urging Australia to “pull your finger out” and implement the sugar tax. It is widely recognised that Australia occupies a huge amount of sugar consumption and is one of the countries that suffers from childhood obesity. The implementation of sugar tax, particularly on soft drinks seems to be a good solution to prevent obesity and thus lead people to a healthier life. However, there are as well many suspicious opinions wondering whether taxing on sugar would be effective to tackle the problems. They are afraid that it may turn to be a measure for the government to increase tax revenue and would exert little effects against obesity. Two news articles have discussed this issue on two Australia-based newspapers and they are both published in 2016. One is “We need a tax on sugary drinks to get serious about the fight against obesity” written by Jane Martin of the Sydney Morning Herald and the other is “Sorry Jamie Oliver, I don’t want you to save me from sugar” written by Patrick Carlyon of the Herald Sun. The two pieces present two contrary viewpoints addressing the issue of sugar tax while they both have shown their central claims explicitly in their headlines. After analysing each article, it is indicated that both authors operate with the same assumption that the “average” reader holds questionable attitude to the effectiveness of sugar tax even has recognised that the implementation of sugar tax is an upcoming thing. It is interesting to note that the general public may have a slightly against attitude toward the sugar tax but are still waiting to be convinced. That is to say they feel, to some extent, the proposal of sugar tax could be a good thing but they are worried about the price they will be going to pay and how well the effects the policy can really cause. With a deeper analysis, it can be concluded that Jane Martin of the first article has the value system assuming the national benefit is more important than individual benefit while Patrick Carlyon of the second piece believes that the public should not pay for a group of people.

The first article, “We need a tax on sugary drinks to get serious about the fight against obesity”, clearly indicates the central claim in its headline. Martin reckons the sugar tax is essential for preventing more healthy problems and it is an imperative to take it seriously. The primary claim here is a recommendation which involves a demand for action, with Martin proposes “the time has come to take action”. This reflects the author is aiming to persuade readers to accept the sugar tax and convince them to believe the implementation of sugar tax is necessary. In order to achieve these objectives through the arguments stated in the article, she has used multiple justifications to support her claim.

“Many people would be shocked to learn that a typical 600ml bottle of soft drink contains a whopping 16 teaspoons of sugar. This is sugar that our bodies simply do not need, and a major contributor to Australia’s obesity epidemic.”

“At a time when 63 percent of Australian adults and more than one in four children are overweight or obese, addressing unhealthy weight must become a priority issue for the government and the focus must be prevention.”

“Australia’s growing obesity problem is costing us around $3.6 billion in direct healthcare cost each year.”

The paragraphs above provide direct and strong justifications appealing to the “fact” of current situation and negative consequences. They try to emphasise the severity of sugar consumption Australian are facing at present and help readers realise that the bad consequences of obesity problem will not only impact on financial loss but also other industries. The author uses these examples as factual evidence in order to back up her claim and she assumes that most of the readers have not shown strong support because they did not know the situation and bad effects with writing “many people would be shocked”. Thus the author believes the readers can be persuaded if they understand these facts. Following these illustrations, Martin then states more justifications highlighting the effectiveness of sugar tax for the purpose of convincing readers that a tax on sugar would be one of the best solution to tackle obesity problem.

“Modelling has shown that a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks in Australia could save more than 1600 lives over 25 years by reducing the prevalence of weight-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.”

“A 20 per cent sugary drinks tax could raise as much as $400 million a year for much-needed obesity prevention initiatives and save the healthcare system as much as $480 million over 25 years. But, of course, the cost of obesity is not just financial.”

These two sentences show justificatory support appealing to potential positive consequences the sugar tax can lead to if Australia implement this levy. The author wants to tell her readers and convey them the idea that a tax on sugar is beneficial because it can lead such good effects and therefore, more people will engage in the agreement with the implementation of the sugar tax. It is noticeable that these arguments are created based on the predictions toward future expectation, Martin uses subjunctive mood that implies a could-be attitude. In order to further persuade readers, she also comes up with another justification appealing to precedent that verifies the effectiveness of the sugar tax.

“The experience of other countries also underlines the effectiveness of a sugary drinks tax. Such a tax is already working to reduce consumption of sugary drinks in Mexico and Hungary.”

These justifications reveal that the author is at pains to make her readers believe there will be benefits in carrying out the sugar tax. This insinuates there is a need for it in the first place and there is an assumption that the author presume readers will not support the sugar tax easily. Moreover, an underlying premise for these arguments can work is that the “average” reader needs to regard himself as a part of national struggles and care about every citizen equally. This have been alluded in another argumentation in Martin’s article, which tries to unite every Australian to solve this issue together.

“Isolated or individual-focused initiatives will have little impact on what is a complex, multi-factorial societal problem. As a nation we must all commit to sustained action at all levels of government across all portfolios, and by a range of public and private stakeholders.”

“We need environments that support healthy eating and physical activity.”

The extracts explicitly reflect that the author expects readers to reach a consensus that everyone in this country is responsible for considering this issue by making use of the pronoun “we”. Martin assumes that her readership holds an ideology that everyone, as an Australian, want to assist the government to improve the society. The persuasive strategy is to let Australian readers feel they are all a part of the nation and what they might agree to do is a thing that would benefit for our families and friends.

An analysis of this article thus demonstrates the author reckons the majority of her readership is not so favor of the sugar tax so she argues the advantages and tries to persuade readers. Meanwhile, she assumes the “average” reader does care about the national development as a citizen and is willing to support any good measures of the government. This is also why Martin believes the majority of her readership can be persuaded and convinced.

The second article by Patrick Carlyon, “Sorry Jamie Oliver, I don’t want you to save me from sugar”, quickly becomes apparent from reading the headline that the author strongly opposes the idea of sugar tax. His central claim can be summarized as a tax on sugar, particular on soft drinks is ridiculous and will not exert any effects for solving obesity problem as he describes this tax heaves with “glitches and oversights”. The central claim is an evaluation which is also reflected in the headline, and Carlyon uses plenty of evaluative arguments as well as evaluative assertions to support his viewpoints. Instead of directly arguing his standpoint, Carlyon first expresses intensive evaluation toward the event that Jamie Oliver urged Australia to “pull your finger out”.

“He says we’re fat because we eat the wrong foods and he’s probably right. His assumptions go further. He argues that he can fix us, because we cannot fix ourselves.”

“Oliver modestly urged us — Australia, that is — to “pull your finger out”. We ought to do more, for our own good. His call was simple enough: pay more tax for simple pleasures.”

These evaluative sentences can hardly become valid arguments but his opinions about Jamie Oliver. The use of the pronoun “we” as well indicates that he assumes an intend readership will align with his belief that a sugar tax is like an imposed policy and it is not a good idea. He then backs up his claim with more opinions which lack enough supportive justifications.

“It follows Britain’s decision to impose a sugar tax on fizzy drinks, despite overwhelming evidence that it will make no difference at all to childhood obesity rates.”

This implies that Carlyon assumes that the majority of his readership will oppose this policy and question its capacity of tackling the obesity problem, so he does not need to provide supportive evidence to persuade the readership.

Although in Carlyon’s article there are largely his own opinions without argumentative support, he has indeed made some effects to argue the central claim by using some justifications. The most significant argumentation he illustrates is that except the sugary soft drinks like Coke, there are much more foods containing sugar and some may have even more sugar than soft drinks. Therefore, he reckons it is ludicrous to implement this kind of tax.

“Coke, as a fizzy drink, was bad and would cop an eight pence a can levy. Yet smoothies, which can have more sugar than fizzy drinks, were OK.”

“Kids would not be taught the difference between dark and dairy chocolate, or offered charts on fruits and their sugar contents.”

“The tax heaves with glitches and oversights. Mars bars will not be taxed, nor will ice-cream and the dozens of other naughties people gobble every day.”

The texts above go against the sugar tax with justifications appealing to comparison and analogy. He refutes the validity of the tax by exemplifying some other sweet-flavor food such as Mars bars and ice cream. Here, Carlyon suspects the effectiveness of the sugar tax and believes that such a tax cannot really solve the problem. The persuasive strategy is to give his readership a sense that soft drinks are not the only reason causing health problem thus a tax on that will not function as people expect. He then takes a step further with a rhetorical question asking “is it sugar, then salt, then bacon, then whipped cream?” This implies, again, the author considers the idea of sugar tax is ridiculous and he expects the “average” reader shares the same belief.

By contrasting this article with the first one, it then reveals that another underlying assumption that Carlyon shares is that the “average” reader believes the crisis of obesity is an independent case rather than a situation of the nation, which is exactly opposite to Martin’s view.

“The future of our obesity “crisis” was described as “catastrophic”. A study’s head said we needed to stop “blaming” individuals and address the system. Again, the inference was clear: we, who know better, must save the masses from themselves.”

This excerpt emphasizes the individualism as an underlying value system of the author. Again, he assumes that his readership will share the same view with him and there is no need to argue this point. An analysis of this articles indicates that Carlyon’s article is largely evaluative with massive assertions reflecting his opinions. The major purpose of this article is less to persuade the readership but rather solidarize the audience, this is because Carlyon assumes that his readers share the same value system with him and will also express their objection to the idea of sugar tax.

The two articles reveal uncertainty and hesitation from the general readers’ attitudes toward sugar tax. The authors both present strong justifications standing at their standpoints that support their central claims. Martin’s piece provides a recommendation that highlights the importance and essence of implementing a tax on sugary drinks. The author is trying to persuade readers to believe that the sugar tax is imperative and will have positive results in terms of curbing obesity. She uses many kinds of justificatory supports appealing to fact, authority, consequences and precedent. While Carlyon’s piece contains largely opinions with evaluative assertions and arguments. The fundamental goal of Carlyon writing this article is more likely to unite the readership thus reinforce the oppositional thoughts. The contrary in the nature of the arguments in the two article reflects both author believes the implementation of sugar tax is not an easy thing. A common underlying assumption after analysing the two pieces is that the “average” reader is sceptical about the sugar tax and worries about its effectiveness.