Will Constitutional Recognition of our Nation’s First People’s be any more than rhetoric? By: Ryan Mahon

MDIA2002 Assessment 4: Media Analysis 2

Will Constitutional Recognition of our Nation’s First Peoples be any more than rhetoric?

BY: RYAN MAHON

Name: Ryan Mahon (z5076131)

Course: MDIA2002

Class: Thursday at 1:30pm (H13A)

Word Count:  2494 words (Without quotes)

The public debate about the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has gained front-page status in print media in the months preceding and following the 2016 Federal Election. The Federal Government is proposing a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter ATSI) Peoples as the First Peoples of Australia and to afford protections against discrimination. Protection from discrimination however is already afforded to ATSI Peoples by the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). Public commentators have argued that Constitutional Recognition (also known as Recognition) would be little more than a token gesture to Australia’s first people, however the consequences of this referendum transcend both politics and rhetoric. Entrusted to the Australian people is something far more fundamental, if the referendum is passed, the changes made to the Constitution could have a significant impact on the future of Indigenous Recognition and Native Title. The Federal Government has been investigating the possibility of setting a date in 2017 giving the Australian people an opportunity to vote on the referendum.

Media coverage of this debate has seen the publication of many (hard) news, views or opinion articles on the issue. Some articles have the intention to simply inform their audiences, however some journalists have intended to persuade their audiences through the use of a wide range of argument types to frame their writing. Print media articles have framed the debate using different perspectives to either support or condemn the proposal to Constitutionally Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Constitution. These articles contain aspects of both hard news and opinion.

A critical analysis of these articles concludes that despite each of these articles taking different angles and having distinct differences on the same issue, they all assume that the readership is aware of Constitutional Recognition, but they may not know what form this Recognition would be in. However, these journalists and commentators assume their readership may not have intimate knowledge of the legal ramifications of Recognition. Some authors have argued that Constitutional Recognition would unite Australia, whilst others have argued that it could divide the nation.

In his article, “Push for recognition a threat to national unity”, Stephen Fitzpatrick explicitly states his central claim, that Constitutional Recognition could lead to disunity within Australian society. The emotive evaluation of the referendum by using the words, “a threat”, indicates an evaluative judgement against Constitutional Recognition. The headline also uses, “national unity”, indicating this current unity would be destroyed if Constitutional Recognition was to occur. The author implies to their audience, the slippery slope of potential negative consequences if Recognition was granted. By using “Recognition” and “a threat to national unity”, Fitzpatrick is creating a direct causal link between Recognition and national disunity. Since the article has a clear central claim, it would be possible to assume that Fitzpatrick is appealing to a like-minded audience.

In addition to his own views and opinions, Fitzpatrick appeals to a notion of authority by quoting Australian historian Keith Windschuttle several times throughout the article. It is evident that Fitzpatrick structures his article by making a claim about Recognition such as, “It poses (sic) a clear danger to political unity” and then justifies this claim by quoting Windschuttle. This appeal to authority referenced throughout the article is a construct of Fitzpatrick, as he labels Windschuttle as a historian in order to appeal to a perceived expertise on the issue. However, Fitzpatrick fails to mention throughout his article that Windschuttle has been widely criticised within the academic community for his belief that many historians had fabricated the extent of racism in Australia during the White Australia Policy during the 1900s (Constitutional Recognition carries seeds of reconciliation by Chris Kenny [The Australian]). An instance of where Fitzpatrick appealing to authority is seen in this extract below,

“Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians could lead to the break-up of the nation. Historian Keith Windschuttle has warned, unless voters are clear that notions of sovereignty accompanying it pose a clear danger to political unity.”

Fitzpatrick constructs a false analogy relating Native Title claims from the 1990’s in an attempt to make a legitimate comparison between Constitutional Recognition and Native Title ownership and sovereignty over freehold land (Mabo V Queensland 1992 [HCA]). There is also the assertion of a possible Ad Populum Argument as Fitzpatrick argues, if Australians were aware of the potential implications of Constitutional Recognition, then they would be against it. This is legitimised by the author attributing the content of the quote to Keith Windschuttle, however the veracity of Windschuttle’s arguments must also be questioned as it cannot be determined whether he is an impartial authority on the issue.

Fitzpatrick then attempts to appeal to the emotions of his readership by providing a confronting analogy of the possible unintended consequences of Recognition. Fitzpatrick wrote,

“ATSI Peoples themselves… use the success of native title claims over the past two decades to plot a campaign for full sovereignty.”

“The broadly held view of constitutional recognition – that it would be a courteous symbolic gesture with no real consequences – ignores the potential for it to become a bargaining position for a local black state to exert far more influence.”

The main claim that this appeal supports is that Constitutional Recognition will create a precedent for Native Title claims with ATSI communities forming their own Sovereign Nations. There is an assumption by the journalist that the Australian people are unaware of this potential outcome. Further to this, an Ad Hominem argument is used, alluding that ATSI Peoples are propagating Constitutional Recognition in order to increase their influence and power. Consistently throughout his article Fitzpatrick implies the ‘potential’ negative consequences of Constitutional Recognition. Fitzpatrick’s article appears to be mainly opinion as he uses only one unverified source (Windschuttle) to add veracity to his arguments. Like Fitzpatrick, other journalists have published articles on Recognition that appear to contain more opinion than they do hard-news.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten arrive at the grand final breakfast ahead of the GF today in Melbourne, Saturday Oct. 3, 2015. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Image: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have taken a bi-partisan approach to Constitutional Recognition, however they have not set a date for the referendum.

Andrew Bolt, a prominent conservative commentator has also publicly expressed his opposition to Constitutional Recognition. Andrew Bolt wrote an article for the Herald Sun called, “Recognition for Aborigines in Constitution only serves to divide.” It is important to note that Bolt uses the term, “Aborigines” an expression deemed offensive and degrading by many in the community. Considering the language used in the headline, it would be appropriate to determine that Bolt’s imagined readership would most likely be a white, middle or upper-class readership who would share his conservative sentiments. It is evident that this imagined reader is positioned to agree with the author as the use of such colloquial terminology could be deemed offensive by someone whose views are not aligned with Bolt’s.

 Andrew Bolt’s article would be more opinion than hard news, as he does not back up many of his claims. At several points throughout his article he makes a non-sequitur argument as he tries to draw links between events and consequences where there may not be any. Bolt suggests that Constitutional Recognition will result in Australia dividing into two-societies. Below is an extract from Bolt’s article,

“It’s apartheid. It is wrong to use the law to insist some of us are First Australians with extra rights because of their ‘race’ and the rest are second- class (sic) Australians.

“Changing the Constitution, as Labor and the Liberals want, means judges could insist this apartheid is our future. Don’t risk it.”

A hasty generalisation or over generalisation of all ATSI Peoples occurs in this extract as Bolt asserts that all ATSI Peoples would misuse the rights afforded to them from Constitutional Recognition for Native Title. Bolt uses the false analogy of apartheid in an attempt to add veracity to his arguments. He is alluding to the possibility for reverse-racism to occur in Australia. Bolt uses “us” and “their” to create an affiliation with his intended readership, a like-minded audience.

In the above extract from Bolt’s article, the agent is identified as, “First Australians”, whilst the affected are “the rest” of society. Bolt argues that due to the manipulation of the Constitution, if it were to be amended, non-indigenous Australians would be disadvantaged. Evident in both Bolt and Fitzpatrick’s articles is an appeal to negative consequences. They argue that Constitutional Recognition is a slippery slope toward Native Title where ATSI Peoples will have the power to create their own Sovereign States.

The debate on Constitutional recognition was recently re-ignited when the ABC documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition was aired. The documentary followed Federal Member for Barton and Indigenous advocate, Linda Burney MP and Andrew Bolt as they travelled to remote Aboriginal communities to discuss the referendum. Andrew Bolt has previously told Fairfax Media he is opposed to the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous people, whilst Linda Burney has pushed for greater consultation with Aboriginal communities on the matter.

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Image: Andrew Bolt and Linda Burney MP on the set of ABC’s, “I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition.”

 

Paul Daley is critical of commentators such as Andrew Bolt in his article, Indigenous recognition deserves serious debate. Andrew Bolt shouldn’t be a part of it”, for The Guardian. Daley asserts that he is for Constitutional Recognition, however he argues that there has been a lack of public debate on the matter. A dichotomy of values emerges between Daley’s article and Bolt’s article as Daley dismisses Bolt’s arguments through an Ad Hominem informal fallacy. Daley’s counter argument against Bolt calls Bolt’s views and opinions, “indulgent pet assertions”. In addition, Davis criticised Bolt in the following extract,

“Choosing Bolt for the program (I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition)… rendered it a laughably inadequate vehicle to tackle the questions relating to the desire for Recognition within Indigenous Australia – which is where it could impact most.”

 Daley not only attempts to assert a point of view, but he is also attempting to undermine the arguments put forward by other journalists who are in opposition to Recognition. As the article provides background information about the ABC program and the engagement of the ATSI community and stakeholders in Constitutional Recognition consultations, Daley assumes an audience that would fundamentally agree with the referendum. However, this assumed audience may not know how that Recognition should be materialised. Daley makes the presumption that the argument for Recognition, as stipulated by I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition, has been reduced to, “yes (black) v no (white). Although this is a very simplistic and generalised analogy, Daley uses it to criticise the lack of stakeholder engagement by the government.

One of the main claims in this article is that there has not been enough consultation with the ATSI community on Recognition. This is backed by Daley’s warrant that ATSI advocates for and against Constitutional Recognition are not being consulted as stakeholders. Daley argues that Constitutional Recognition does not go far enough to solve systemic inequalities faced by many ATSI Peoples. Daley wrote,

Tens of millions of dollars are being spent on Recognise (a campaign to raise awareness about Constitutional Recognition)… At a time when the Abbott/Turnbull governments have cut at least $550 million from Indigenous programs.”

“Why not reflect the nuance and complexity of argument and concern with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia by having Indigenous proponents on both sides of the debate?”

Daley attempts to create a direct causal link between the lack of ATSI stakeholder consultation by the government in relation to matters that affect Indigenous communities and ATSI disengagement with the political process. Daley uses opinion within a deeply embedded argument to add veracity to his claims and conclusions about Recognition. Daley cites multiple sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Constitutional law, Stan Grant, Mick Gooda and data released by the Federal Government. Daley wrote,

“The Indigenous voting enrolment rate is 58%. I’m told that as few as 30-35% of Indigenous Australians actually bother to vote. Many I know abstain on ideological/political grounds –  a protest against legitimising and acknowledging what they view as the “settler state”.

Daley appeals to this analogy about ATSI voter disengagement in order to criticise the government. Daley, unlike Bolt does not blame Indigenous communities for their disengagement, but instead has criticised the government’s inability to ensure that all stakeholders can come to the table.

Daley clearly outline his primary claim that the government is not engaging all stakeholders in a proper conversation on Recognition. He uses Andrew Bolt, a conservative commentator who has received hours of air-time and numerous columns on the issue as an example of the issue with the current public debate. Whilst Bolt receives this media attention, Indigenous stakeholders have not been consulted by the government or the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council. This leads to Daley’s secondary claim that in addition to Recognition, treaties need to be signed by the government and ATSI leaders. Daley however, does not assert his secondary claim until the last several paragraphs of his article. This could be because his imagined readership could be one that supports Recognition, but may not know enough on the subject matter to support any treaties.

In addition to Daley, Jackie Higgins (SMH), George Williams (SMH) and Megan Davis (ABC) all appeal to emotion, popular opinion, strawperson arguments and presumptions to conclude that Australia needs to have a ‘Treaty’ in addition to an amendment to the Constitution. The articles written by Bolt and Fitzpatrick have the implication that any amendments to the Constitution would act to divide the nation, whilst Daley, Higgins, Williams and Davis argue that it may bring the country closer together. However, they argue further steps need to be taken beyond the symbolic gesture of changing the wording of the Constitution.

Megan Davis in her article, “Scant Recognition: Have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples any Reason to Hope?”, explicitly outlines her claim that ATSI Peoples need to be a part of the discussion on Recognition for it to hold any significance. The reader is positioned to agree with the article as Davis speaks from a position of authority. She is a Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and a member of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council adding veracity to the quality of her argument. In holding these positions, Davis’ credibility as a source should be reliable. Davis appeals to authority several times throughout her article including in the following extract, 

“We must be careful to acknowledge that while symbolism is nice and may have some statutory benefits, as Dylan Lino argues, “the pursuit of wholly symbolic recognition in written constructions often neglects valid grievances about how power is wielded by the state over the group (ATSI Peoples) in general””.

Megan Davis appeals to the authority of Dylan Lingo from the Melbourne Law School, Indigenous Law Centre to add veracity to her arguments. Davis focuses on the implications of Recognition for the Indigenous community in her article, whilst Bolt and Fitzpatrick focus on the agents of change, white policy makers and voters. Davis appears to emphasise the “symbolic” nature of Recognition as her imagined audience (the wider public), may be unaware of what Recognition is. It is important to note Davis’ description of Recognition as symbolic is in contradiction to Bolt’s description of it being a gateway to Native Title. Davis spends the majority of her article explaining the need for treaties in an attempt to inform and in turn, persuade her imagined audience into agreeing with her.

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Image: The Prime Minister’s Referendum Council including Megan Davis (Front row, 2nd from right)

Polling conducted on behalf of the Recognise campaign found that 77% of Non-Indigenous people and 87% of Indigenous people would vote “yes” for constitutional change if a referendum was to be held. However, polling conducted at the same time showed a drop in the awareness, the constituency has of the campaign. Awareness of Recognise has dropped from 63% in mid-2015 to 51% in October 2016. This data demonstrates that although the majority of Australians are in favour of Constitutional Recognition, they may be unaware of the meaning and consequences of Recognition and how it can be acted upon. This unawareness in the constituency could be a motivating factor for journalists and authors to publish articles arguing for treaties in an attempt to inform the electorate, who could be agents of change through their voting power.

In many of the print-media articles published on Constitutional Recognition, it is evident that the terms, “Constitutional Recognition” and “Rights” are identified as contentious terms. The definitions of these terms had been subject to debate in the sample texts and different authors have stipulated different definitions for them. Some authors construct the term, “Rights” to mean the rights of ATSI Peoples whilst others have constructed the term to mean the rights of Australians to vote in the Referendum and the rights of Australian people as a whole.

Constitutional Recognition as defined by Megan Davies (ABC), Paul Daley (ABC) and George Williams (Sydney Morning Herald) is simply a change of the wording of the Australian Constitution to acknowledge Australia’s first peoples. Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun) and Stephen Fitzpatrick define Constitutional Recognition as, “a threat to national unity”, that, “can only seek to divide”. The view of Recognition that the reader forms is highly dependent on the work that they read as different authors have defined the term in different lights in order to support their own views and arguments on the issue.

In analysing a selection of articles, it is revealed the majority of authors are appealing to an imagined readership that would vote ‘yes’ in a Constitutional Referendum, but may be unaware of the consequences of such actions. Andrew Bolt and Stephen Fitzpatrick both attempt to persuade the readership by expressing their opposition to Recognition as they feel it would be a slippery slope to Native Title. Paul Daley is not only for Constitutional Recognition, but also a Treaty and undermines the critics of Constitutional Recognition, such as Andrew Bolt in order to add veracity to his own arguments. Daley discredits the arguments of Bolt by calling them, “pet assertions”. Underlying all articles was the opinions of their respective authors attempting to convince the readership of certain points. In some instances, such as in the Daley, Williams, Higgins and Davis articles, the opinion was embedded within a hard-news article. However, there were aspects of opinion, as a number of informal fallacies and counter-arguments are utilised in these articles, but the opinions used appear to be impartial and expert. Indigenous Recognition is a passionate issue for many and these authors provided some of the best examples of journalistic integrity through their use of informed opinion and attempts to avoid bias.

 

Articles Referenced in this paper:

Legislation Referenced:
Related Articles:

 

To vaxx, or not to vaxx, that is the highly contentious societal debate.

By Frances Tsatsoulis

People tend to become a bit prickly when it comes to getting needles, a notion that is more relevant that ever when considering the controversial subject of immunisation. Immunisation is a hot topic in contemporary society that is able to cause a fiery debate between medical professionals, health conscious Australians and particularly parents. The enduring societal issue has resulted in health professionals taking sides and the dispute has developed to the point where Australian nurses who currently promote their anti-vaccination beliefs are facing prosecution.

Whilst there is continuous friction between the ‘vaxxers’ and ‘anti-vaxxers’, the overarching consensus in both Australian hard and views journalism pieces is that immunisation is necessary. Various articles including Anti-vaxxer’s baby hospitalised with whooping cough by Bianca Hall for The Age, Anti-vaccination is based on prejudice and superstition by Julie Szego for the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian nurses who spread anti-vaccination messages face prosecution by Melissa Davey for The Guardian and Melbourne’s anti-vaccination hot spots: Rich suburbs have low immunisation rates by Marissa Calligeros for The Age position their audience in a manner that coaxes them into embracing the author’s pro-immunisation views. Most of the pro-immunisation pieces found in the media will clearly illustrate their beliefs, yet there are some like the article Hanson says vaccines may cause autism for Sky News that could initially be interpreted as an anti-immunisation piece but if critically analysed is clearly not.  Each of these articles characterises the anti-vaxxers as irresponsible, irrational and a menace to society as they spread an ideology which has no scientific backing. This is achieved through the use of specific lexical choices and appeals to particular facts and emotions to win over their reader.

Despite there being a clear conflict between the beliefs of those pro-vaccination and individuals who are anti-immunisation there is virtually no articles present in Australian media that counter argue popular opinion and promote an anti-vaxxer way of life. After relentlessly searching for an anti-vaccination article only one could be found, which does not exclusively urge its readers against immunisation. Marj Lefroy’s piece Vaccination’s vexed link to autism for the Sydney Morning Herald presents an open-minded perspective of the issue and attempts to convince members of Australian society to be tolerant of anti-vaxxers. However, much like the pro-immunisation pieces the article mentions carefully chosen facts and emotion to demonstrate the reasoning for her stance on the topic.

In Hall’s pro-vaccination article, it is evident that the author has immediately distanced herself from the ‘anti-vaxxers’ through the title, successfully creating an ‘us versus them’ distinction. The mention of the “anti-vaxxer’s baby” side by side with the word “hospitalized” alludes to the notion that the parent who has chosen not to immunize her child is in the wrong and also conjures up negative imagery of those against vaccinations.

In the article’s lead the words “11-week-old” and “anti-vaccination activist” grab the audience’s attention. The reference to the child’s age connotes innocence and vulnerability whereas the phrase activist positions the audience to believe the mother is not adhering to the social norm even if it means, and has meant, harming her child and possibly others.

Hall continues to present this perspective throughout the article by including quotes from fellow anti-vaxxer’s who supported the woman’s decision to not immunise her child and lie to doctors about doing so. Hall also included a statement made by Health Minister Jill Hennessy regarding the importance of vaccinations.

“Be gentle with yrself [sic]… You are tired and have been thru quite an ordeal. You know your facts. As far as vax goes u know more than those docs”. – Anti- vaccination supporter.

 “The science on this is clear. Vaccinations save lives. It is completely irresponsible for people to ignore the science and choose not to vaccinate their child.” – Health Minister Jill Hennessy.

By selecting a quote that is poorly constructed and written in internet abbreviations, the author is trying to demonstrate that Australian’s who are against vaccinations are uneducated. The inclusion of a statement that has a reference to having more knowledge than doctors indicates that Hall believes and is urging her readership to believe that anti-vaxxers are unethical. In contrast Hennessy’s statement is written in standard English and conveys to the reader a sense of professionalism and authority. Hall does this to subconsciously persuade her audience to favour the Health Minister’s opinion over the unknown woman’s, operating under the warrant that the correct belief will be a clear, professional one.

Despite this piece being an objective hard news article and Hall not being forthright in her views regarding those who are anti immunisation, it is evident through her use of language, appeal to authority and mentioning of unqualified opinion that the author follows the general pro-vaccination consensus present in the media.

Akin to Hall’s article is Julie Szego’s commentary piece for the Sydney Morning Herald which identifies anti-vaxxers as resolutely irrational.

“The anti-vaxxers are unlikely to contemplate the precariousness and misery of their ancestors’ lives before mass vaccination eradicated, or greatly reduced, the menace of polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, rubella, yellow fever and small pox.”

By listing all of these vaccine-preventable diseases Szego is trying to explicitly highlight the popular view that those who choose not to immunise their child are reckless. Traditionally, views journalism attempts to persuade their audience into adopting their perspective on a particular issue however for Szego this is not the case. The author is confident that her readership does not consist of anti-vaxxers and instead appeals to consequence, choosing to shine a light on facts that will further emphasize the prevalent ideology that immunisation is the only way to go and not doing so is irresponsible.

“And as we see in the now notorious case of Brunswick North West Primary School, where a staggering 80 children, one in four, have been struck down with chicken pox…only 73 per cent of children are immunised—whereas roughly 90 per cent coverage is needed for “herd immunity” to kick in and protect everyone, including the nonvaccinated.”

The statistics used in the piece are alarmingly high and are incorporated to shock the readership and agitate for the condemning of anti-vaccination parenting. The mention of a “herd immunity” adds to the negative characterisation of those against vaccinating their child, highlighting how they are not only endangering their kids but also other children as well. Whilst the statistics do grab attention and add factual evidence to the article the data is not verified which creates a disconnect between information and authority, thus making the piece not as effective as other pro-vaccination articles.

 “This latter fact would hardly sway parents who support “chicken pox parties” for children. For the blissfully ignorant, this is where anti-vaxxers deliberately expose their offspring to disease to supposedly promote “natural” immunity. As in: “Here little (insert New Age name of the moment), have some varicella pox with your chocolate crackles.”

Though the article lacks in certified evidence it makes up for it in appeals to emotion and comic relief. This is achieved via the evaluative presumption that parents who choose not to immunize their children are New Age, a notion commonly featured in articles surrounding this societal issue with Szego’s being no exception. The author continues to solidify her claim that these parents are irresponsible by embedding informal fallacies in her work, these include slippery slope and hasty generalisation. The comedic notion that parents will feed their child an infection not only breaks up the writer’s rant but conveys to the audience that New Age parents are shying away from typical behaviour which may eventually result in them willingly infecting their kids. This is a hasty generalisation as not all parents who partake in New Age methods are anti immunisation.

Szego does not include a counter argument or any statements made by anti-vaxxers which makes her argument one-sided, something that she intentionally does to persuade her pro-vaccination readership to feel more passionate about anti-vaxxer’s “irrational” behaviour.

Image by: Tiffany McLaughlin via Flickr
Image by: Tiffany McLaughlin via Flickr

Unlike, Hall and Szego who take a parental perspective in their pieces, Davey focuses on what being a health professional and an anti-vaxxer means. Despite having a different outlook the author still adheres to popular opinion and proceeds to construct an underlying argument characterising the anti-vaxxers as flawed and dangerous to others. Like Hall’s article, Davey must follow an objective journalistic style however this does not obstruct her ability to inscribe her negative evaluations.

“Nurses and midwives who ignore scientific evidence by promoting anti-vaccination to patients and the public are being cracked down on in a tough new position statement from their industry regulator.”

The connotations surrounding the lexical choices of “ignore”, “scientific evidence” and “crackdown” immediately offers the view that nurses are committing an immoral and now illegal act of quackery despite knowing better.

 “The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia… “The board expects all registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives to use the best available evidence in making practice decisions.”

Dr Hannah Dahlen, a professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and the spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, said vaccination was essential to public health and safety… “Midwives and nurses are highly regarded and trusted members of society and people take their advice very seriously,” 

The AMA president, Dr Michael Gannon, said the booklet was “the perfect response to the lies, misinformation and fear that is peddled by the anti-vaccination movement”. “Immunisation saves lives,” he said. “That is an undeniable fact.” 

Davey provides a well-rounded argument and subsequently supports the government’s decision to prosecute nurses who promote anti-immunisation by featuring statements from reputable health organisations and professionals. Each remark reflects the general consensus of Australian media stressing the dangers of supporting a practice with no scientific proof. The remarks also shame nurses who use their imperative societal role to encourage others to adopt an anti-vaccine ideology. These statements appeal to authority and demonise nurses who are sympathetic towards anti-vaccination presenting them as a potential harm to Australian society.

“Gannon said since the introduction of the government’s No Jab No Pay policy, 6,000 children whose parents were previously registered as conscientious objectors to vaccination were now fully immunised.”

Via the statistic given about the government’s No Jab No Pay Policy the audience is implicitly attitudinally positioned to believe that anti-vaxxer’s are immoral due to their willingness to backtrack on their beliefs for the right price. This simple fact brings into question the principles of those against immunisation and relies on the presupposed notion that strong ethics translates to mean a good person, therefore it urges audiences to

disapprove of anti-vaxxers.

Whilst Davey does not take evaluative responsibility as a result of the story being written in a non-authorial voice there is clear evaluations made which disparage anti-vaccination sympathizers. The article stays committed to creating a negative view of the character of those against immunisation and does so using a similar portrayal and appeal to facts that most media articles pertaining to the subject do.

 

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Images from each of the above mentioned articles

 

All of the above mentioned articles, along with many pro-vaccination stories, feature images of infants getting vaccinated however they do not ever specifically refer to infant immunisation. It can be assumed that the reason that this particular image has been chosen is because a baby is symbolically linked with innocence and is usually protected. Thus by picturing the baby receiving an injection it is portraying the belief that vaccinations protect the child’s health and propagates the notion that infants need to be safeguarded from ‘cruel’ anti-vaxxers.

Yet, Calligeros’ pro-immunisation piece for The Age breaks away from this stereotype and instead features a video and an image that only shows the top half of a child’s face who appears to have a vaccine-preventable disease.

“It indicates educated professionals living in areas with higher socioeconomic levels are among the worst vaccine dodgers in the state.”

Calligeros’ article further reiterates the points raised in Hall’s, Szego’s and Davey’s pieces as it brings together an appeal to fact, consequence and implicit emotion whilst characterizing anti-vaxxer parents as irresponsible trend followers.

“South Yarra has an immunisation rate among five-year-old children of 82.9 per cent. The immunisation rate is 86.5 per cent in Toorak, 88.5 per cent in Brighton and 86.3 per cent in Elwood. In Prahran, Balaclava and St Kilda the immunisation rate is less than 86 per cent.”

Though the article includes several of the statements present in Davey’s work it focuses on emphasizing the high percentage of children who are unvaccinated in Melbourne’s wealthier areas. By selectively choosing these areas Calligeros is honing in on the idea that anti-vaccination is a trend amongst affluent parents who aren’t concerned with the health of their child. This implicit claim is warranted by the stereotype that parents with higher socio-economic backgrounds do not personally care for their children and are only superficially worried about their wellbeing. This embedded central theme strategically characterizes parents against immunisation in a negative light and allows the readership to make evaluations of them based on these statistics.

“With parents no longer having the experience of the devastating diseases that vaccines prevent, fear of vaccines has crept in. The fear is aided and abetted by groups that exaggerate and distort their possible harms.”

The author inadvertently brands anti-vaxxers as hypocritical extremists by expressing the notion that those against immunisation have received their vaccinations and don’t have experience with harmful diseases that can be prevented as a result of this. These inexperienced individuals are then falling prey to the propaganda of anti-vaccination groups because it is socially in fashion and aligns with alternative health fanatics who are popular on social media.

Video found on South Australian anti-vaxxer group website http://whatisvaccination.com/vaccine-investigation-videos/

Contrasting to the usual vaxxer pieces, Sky News predominantly explores a one-sided view using Australian politician, Pauline Hanson, as the mouth piece. The objective news story first discuses Hanson’s statements in regards to anti-vaccination and implicitly refutes them in the next par.

“The One Nation leader says public vaccination programs may be to blame for the rising rates of autism and cancer and says the government has failed to screen immigrants posing a threat to public health.

 Proponents of the anti-vaccination theories who share unscientific misinformation about the safety of vaccinations online and have long spruiked the discredited link between vaccination and autism.”

The reference to immigrants, an issue Hanson is vocally opposed to, immediately exposes the underlying concept that the politician is expressing her biased opinion along with misconstrued facts. The author explicitly states that the “link between vaccination and autism” has been discredited and as a result positions the reader to disregard Hanson’s allegations.

“In Australia, the anti-vax movement as it is known is represented by The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network who compared routine vaccinations to sexual assault, running advertisements on social media likening them to forced penetration.”

Similarly to the other articles, the author negatively characterises Hanson portraying her akin to The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. An organisation whose main aim is to persuade Australians to not immunise their children, a practice they believe analogous with sexual assault. The article explicitly mentions this belief to evoke an emotional response from readers and strengthen the negative depiction of anti-vaxxers whose views potentially disturb society and offend victims of sexual assault.

“’I have many people who have brought it to my attention, that’s why their kids are autistic,’ she told the Daily Mail.”

Pauline Hanson’s comment where she stated that children are autistic as a result of vaccinations was included to render the One Nation leader as uneducated and insensitive to those who have autism and their families. Sky News purposely does this to allude to anti-vaxxer’s tendencies to make outrageous unqualified statements that are likely to offend and misguide people.

The small corpus of articles chosen above each demonstrate the unanimous belief in the Australian media that vaccination is imperative and that those opposed to it are careless and a danger to others in society. The journalistic pieces all negatively depict those against immunisation and support this representation with carefully chosen facts, statements from authority and evaluative language in an attempt implicitly or explicitly align the reader with a pro-vaccination perspective.

Even though several of the pro-immunisation pieces discuss the anti-vaccination trend and the large number of anti-vaxxer groups on social media platforms there are relatively no articles which promote this lifestyle. Marj Lefroy’s article was one of the first to acknowledge an anti-vaxxer perspective does so in a subtle way which is thought-provoking for an undecided readership.

“I’m definitely pro-vaccines and understand all too well the benefits they bring, and I also know they’re toxic for some kids. Because I saw what happened in the case of one of my nephews, for whom vaccination was one of several environmental factors and assaults to his immune system that, along with genetic predisposition and an underlying vulnerability, stressed his body and his mind so much that he slipped into autism. It’s not a conclusion that his mother, a sober individual pushing 40 with an honours degree in science and a background in public health, wanted to reach, but in the end it was undeniable.”

Lefroy’s claim that she is in support of vaccinations but accepts that there are dangers associated with the practice allows the audience to view her as a middle-ground, ‘voice of consideration’. The author’s personal story included justifies her perspective and emotionally involves her readership as it portrays the idea that this could happen to any child in any family.

“US Court of Federal Claims, the US government conceded vaccines had aggravated a young girl’s mitochondrial disorder to the point where she developed autism.”

Aside from appeals to emotion the article gives an appeal to authority and fact through the mentioning of a case that appeared in front of the US Court of Federal Claims where it was found that a vaccine had triggered a young girl’s autism. This attention grabbing fact was potentially included by Lefroy due to the country in which the case took place. It can be assumed that the author made reference to the settlement with the warrant in mind that the US is a stronger power than Australia and that weaker countries should follow the direction of the US.

We must have the courage and maturity to listen to everyone, including the mothers and the fathers dealing with the unacceptable, potentially avoidable consequences. They’re the canaries in the coalmine, and the real reason why this case is not closed.

The comparison between the children who have sustained diseases and injuries from vaccinations to “canaries in the coalmine” is likely to strongly effect the audience as it connotes that these children matter and should not just be written off as casualties for the greater good. Thus the analogy attitudinally positions the readership to have an accepting view of anti-vaxxers and provides a strong finish to a well-rounded argument.

Immunisation from the perspective of both vaxxers and anti-vaxxers is a debated societal issue in modern day Australia. Though there are several groups on social media that preach anti-immunisation dogma media publications primarily produce pro-vaccination stories. Mainly via appeals to emotion, fact and authority all of the articles explored above indicate the prominent stance on immunisation and reiterate how society views medical professionals, health conscious Australians and particularly parents.

Should They Stay Or Should They Go? Media Representations Of NSW’s Controversial Lockout Laws- Caitlin Hely

Should They Stay Or Should They Go? Media Representations Of NSW’s Controversial Lockout Laws

By Caitlin Hely

Word Count: 2086 (not including quotes)

 

First introduced by NSW premier Barry O’Farrell in February 2014 and continued by current premier Mike Baird, the controversial lockout laws have been and still are subject to a lot of attention and conflicting opinions. These recent laws prohibit the sale of alcohol at bottle shops from 10pm, restrict the public from entering pubs and clubs past 1:30am and state that last drinks are to be called by 3am. The laws span the areas of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst to The Rocks, and from Kings Cross to Cockle Bay (NSW Gov, 2016) in the hope that with these restrictions will come a reduction in alcohol fuelled violence within these popular areas.

The predominant reason for the implementation of the lockout laws is to minimise the violence that makes its way onto the streets during a night of drinking and partying. However, the reason is simply not this clear cut, with many other factors motivating these laws- such as making room for property development and profit from the nearby casinos, with the NSW Government acquiring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from The Star (Bradley, 2016). People (such as protest group Keep Sydney Open) are fighting these laws to keep Sydney’s art and nightlife culture alive and to ensure that aspiring musicians and DJ’s get the opportunity to play in venues that now famous Australian musicians once started at. They have also suggested different ways in which the violence could be reduced, such as more late night transport or various curfews for different places. The Australian media paints two very different pictures of these opposing groups, depending on what publications you read, watch or listen to. In more right-wing and conservative publications such as The Herald Sun, which is owned by Murdoch Press, the news is considerably more pro lockout laws compared to more left-wing individuals such as Matt Barrie or online news publications aimed at younger audiences.

Since these lockout laws were imposed, there has been an influx of both hard news and views journalism pieces from a range of politicians, musicians, entertainers and the general public that have saturated the media and encompassed the broad range of attitudes towards this topic. Matt Barrie’s ‘Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out?’ presents the opinion that the introduction of these lockout laws have turned the once flourishing and vibrant city of Sydney into a “ghost town”, due to once popular night spots having no option but to shut down due to a loss of business. However, Susie O’Brien’s article ‘It’s not a nanny state, lockout laws are just common sense’ presents an opposing view that the lockout laws have made for safer streets and a better atmosphere. Their different representations of this issue are displayed through an array of both factual and emotive clauses, which encompass opinionative views as well as sound argument throughout, as we see the subjects make various points for and against the lockout law legislation.

Matt Barrie is an influential entrepreneur and is the founder of the successful website ‘Freelancer.com’. He published his opinionative views article on Linkedin and it has since been viewed almost 1 million times (Eltham, 2016). The 8000 word article has been labelled a ‘rant’, although according to Barrie’s figures, it is a rant that 84.9% of commenters agreed with (Schipp, 2016). The article begins with the lead “Ruled by a succession of incompetent governments, everything in Sydney is now illegal- including fun”. The high modality language of “everything” straight away informs the reader of his personal stance towards the issue and presents a causal claim that due to incompetent governments, consequently, having fun has become “illegal”.

Throughout the article, Barrie positions the reader to take a negative view on premier Mike Baird. He doesn’t explicitly defame Baird by targeting him personally, but instead uses a range of examples of things that he and the Liberal government have initiated in order to get his point across that these laws are ridiculous. Barrie states:

Sydney has not just regressed into a ghost town, but there is an undercurrent of something much more sinister in the way the city is being run.”

The language used in this excerpt paints a dark picture of Sydney, using the emotive term “ghost town” to label the city. As for the use of the adjective “sinister”, he is referring to the fact that this lockout agenda is being “bankrolled” by the Star and Barangaroo casinos, which he proclaims are “conveniently left out of the lockout areas.” Although this article is particularly evaluative and emotive, the public feedback that it has gotten suggests that the majority are in agreeance with Barrie’s claims regarding the lockout issue.

On the other side of the political spectrum there is O’Brien’s views journalism piece, in which she rallies for Sydney’s lockout laws to be implemented in Victoria to provide a safer environment for all. She states her central claim that “people do not have the God-given right to get rip-roaring drunk any time of the day or night”, with the justificatory support being that “some people don’t have the ability to moderate their own behaviour and so restrictions are needed.” The warrant for this claim is that you then get people who can’t control their behaviour and consequently people get hurt because they are too intoxicated. This is a hasty generalisation argument as O’Brien is basing her opinions off the actions of “some” people, who are then giving everybody a bad reputation.

O’Brien uses factual argument combined with an appeal to emotion and consequences to get her point across to the readers in the following excerpt:

“And let’s not forget that the Sydney laws were brought in for a reason: specifically, the single-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie. The right of young men to return home safely at the end of the night should definitely usurp the right of patrons to get drunk around the clock. Call it a nanny state if you will; I think it’s simply common sense.”

The bolded sentences indicate the factual claim that Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie were the two people that died from the punches, yet this is also an appeal to emotion as it is a tragic occurrence that will resonate with the readers, and is also an appeal to consequences as it shows what can potentially happen and go wrong. The high modality language of “definitely” asserts her point and gives the impression that she is not willing to negotiate these laws.

Although this article is pro-lockout laws, O’Brien does bring up the contentious topic of the casinos, stating, “the fact that major establishments like the Star City Casino in Sydney have been exempted has been a major problem.This is important to note because of the fact that O’Brien is on side with the government regarding the lockout legislation, however supports the feelings of many others who believe that the casinos should be included. Just recently, the ABC uncovered new figures that claim the Star Casino’s violence is three times higher than what statistics report, with leaked documents showing that approximately two thirds of attacks go unreported (Branley, 2016). This is a big issue not only for the casino but for the government, who must now address these reports and respond to questions as to why these assaults went unreported.

This argument perpetuates within Barrie’s piece, who also writes about the death of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie, but with hopes of a different outcome, stating:

“Two young men would be turning in their graves if they knew that their deaths had been hijacked to beat up some moral outrage over the sort of human tragedy that sells newspapers to put up a political smokescreen, push a prohibitionist evangelical agenda, sell a suburb to developers, and boost the coffers of a couple of casinos.”

Barrie uses a lexical chain of deceitful government agendas whilst utilising emotive language (bolded) to convey the corrupt nature of these lockout laws as he believes they are profiting off the two deaths. This appeals to ethical norms as the government has used a distraction based argument to bring upon different changes to policy, according to Barrie. Used to accompany Barrie’s arguments are a collection of dimly lit photos that depict Sydney’s now deserted streets, showing close up’s of eviction posters plastered on the buildings to express the scale of the situation. Throughout the article, Barrie uses an anecdote to convey his distaste of Sydney becoming a “nanny-state” in comparison to other countries:

“I watched in wonder as someone proclaimed that they had left something at home, and walked across the road, beer in hand and in full view of the bouncers to fetch it. They cheerfully returned a few minutes later with said glass and continued to stand outside the pub drinking. And do you know what the really amazing thing was? NOBODY DIED.”

The central claim of this paragraph that is implicitly stated, is that the recent laws imposed in Australia regarding alcohol and public venues are ridiculous, with the justification that other countries seem to have no issues. The warrant is then that if other countries can manage to drink safely then surely Australia can too. The bolded section displays how sarcasm has been used to convey the non-sequitur nature of the government’s reasoning behind NSW’s tough liquor laws.

When referring to the tested and failed lockout laws that were to be implemented in Victoria, O’Brien states:

Sadly, though, in Victoria it seems the issue is dead and buried after a so-called failed trial in 2008, under which entry to Melbourne nightclubs was prohibited after 2am….So it’s simply not right to say a lockout is something we tried and it didn’t work. Much of the violence that resulted came from the immediate aftermath of lockouts, when revellers were upset at being denied entry.”

O’Brien uses the emotive adverb of sadly to encapsulate her personal stance towards the failed lockout regulations, and through the use of “so-called” we can see her frustration that the legislation wasn’t implemented in her hometown of Victoria. In the next sentence, the use of “simply” juxtaposes itself as she is presenting the claim that these lockout laws are not simple, with the justification that many facets have to be examined and properly trialled before they are abolished. Also, the use of the word “revellers” has negative connotations and suggests that all partygoers are loud and rowdy, with the dictionary example sentence of the word stating “Drunken revellers brawled in the town centre in the early hours” (Online Dictionary, 2016).

Barrie’s article also addresses the failed lockout laws in Victoria, stating:

The 2am lockout in Victoria was cancelled after independent auditor KPMG found that it had actually increased violence. Even a senior policy advisor to Premier John Brumby admitted that it was only implemented in the first place due to moral panic.”

Through the use of the words “actually”, “even” and “admitted” Barrie presents the topic in a way that is completely different to that of O’Brien’s. He uses these words to express his judgement towards the issue, and presents a very evaluative argument. The central claim of this argument is that the lockout laws didn’t work in Victoria and were found to have increased the violence in the area. The justification for the claim is that the lockout laws were only introduced in Victoria due to moral panic (meaning public anxiety or alarm in response to a problem regarded as threatening the moral standards of society (Online Dictionary, 2016)).

As well as presenting a negative view on the tested lockout laws in Victoria, Barrie also presents negative evaluations and representations of the NSW Liberal government, which can be drawn from this emotive paragraph:

“I can imagine these special little people in Town Hall and Macquarie Street giggling away as they pull their little regulatory levers, fudging the statistics and playing their petty little mind games in the media. They’re finally getting their nasty revenge for being left out all those years ago from being invited to the party by the popular kids.”

The repetition of the belittling adjective “little” positions the reader to view the Liberals in an unfavourable way whilst presenting a view that is similar to the ‘napoleon complex’ otherwise known as ‘short man syndrome’, which refers to the behaviour of little men that compensate for their small stature with domineering social behaviour. He paints a picture in the reader’s head of a group of small little people using their power to get their “nasty revenge” on the “popular kids”, using metaphor to symbolize those who like to go out and have a drink at night. This is a somewhat of a recommendatory argument, as it is trying to get the reader to adopt the stance of the author by characterising the Liberal Government in a negative light.

O’Brien’s article also presents character representations throughout, however, because she is positioning the reader to think positively of the lockout laws, her representations are significantly different. She states:

“Let’s not forget that many of those objecting to the Sydney lockouts have a financial interest in the matter — they’re hardly objective commentators….Why are we listening to them rather than Toby Hall, or the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education’s Michael Thorn?”

O’Brien makes the claim that those objecting to the lockout laws are doing so because they have a financial interest in the matter… which is the opposite of what Barrie says throughout his article, who instead concludes that it is the government who has underlying financial motives for the lockout legislation. By using Michael Thorn’s formal position in his title, O’Brien consequently paints him as an educated and well-qualified person, hence appealing to authority, in juxtaposition to “them” when referring to the protestors. This therefore depicts those in support of the lockout laws in a significantly better way than it does for those against.

Recently, on September 13th there was a review of the lockout laws, with a proposition for a trial to be implemented that involves pushing back lockout times and last drinks by half an hour at certain music venues (Triple J Hack, 2016). This was met with outrage from the community and rally group ‘Keep Sydney Open’ that thought of the potential change as insulting, saying that half an hour would not make a difference. NSW Police Minister Troy Grant and former High Court judge Ian Callinan are among those who are pushing for lockout law and bottle shop times to be extended.

Both of these views journalism articles present very different attitudes towards the subject of the lockout laws, each utilising specific language and examples as a persuasive means to get the readers on side and to present their opinions in a way that is convincing with sound argument. Both present factual argument as well as evaluative, whilst presenting opposite representations of key events and contentious issues. Although I have analysed two articles with opposing views on this subject matter, the number of articles and opinion pieces that disagree with the implementation of the lockout laws are a lot higher, specifically among the younger demographic and those of artistic backgrounds. And through my research I have found that even within hard news items, the language used predominantly presents the issue in a negative light and suggests that there needs to be some sort of re-evaluation of the policies.

 

REFERENCES

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/would-last-person-sydney-please-turn-lights-out-matt-barrie

Barrie M, Uploaded: Feb 3rd 2016, Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out?, Linkedin

Accessed: 24/10/16

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-17/bradley-baird-and-the-lock-out-laws/7251396

Bradley M, Uploaded: 17 Mar 2016, Casinos, lock-out laws, and the unravelling of Mike Baird, ABC News.

Accessed: 14/10/16

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-31/leaked-report-reveals-extent-of-violence-at-star-casino-sydney/7980186

Branley A, Uploaded: Nov 29th 2016, Star Casino violence three times worse than official crime statistics, leaked report says, ABC News.

Accessed: 1/11/16

 

https://www.crikey.com.au/2016/02/24/are-sydneys-lockout-laws-killing-nightlife-or-saving-lives-yes/

Eltham B, Uploaded: Feb 24th 2016, Are Sydney’s lockout laws killing nightlife or saving lives? Yes, Crikey.

Accessed: 26/10/16

 

http://www.nsw.gov.au/newlaws

NSW Government, 2016, New alcohol laws now in place.

Accessed: 11/10/16

 

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/its-not-a-nanny-state-lockout-laws-are-just-common-sense/news-story/d1a3f2ace279d035a26bd891ce206c87

O’Brien S, Uploaded: Feb 22nd 2016, It’s not a nanny state, lockout laws are just common sense, The Herald Sun.

Accessed: 24/10/16

 

http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/mike-baird-smashed-over-lockout-laws-rant/news-story/43a39eaf856c883cd5e8c71e283fc712

Schipp D, Uploaded: Feb 10th 2016, Mike Baird smashed over lockout laws rant, News Au.

Accessed: 27/10/16

 

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/review-proposes-half-hour-extension-to-sydney-lockout-times/7840258

Triple J Hack, Uploaded: 13th Sep 2016, Sydney lockout laws: Review proposes half-hour live music extension, Triple J.

Accessed: 28/11/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shimon Peres: Warrior of Peace

Warrior of Peace or Politics?

By Erin Gordon

The Israeli- Palestinian conflict has never been simple and neither have representations of its’ major players. In September this year one of Israel’s founding fathers, Shimon Peres died at the age of 93. Like the conflict he so tried to end, Peres was a complicated man- a backroom dealer and a self-proclaimed hawk turned dove, who held nearly every major political office in the country from Prime Minister to President. He is most famous for winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 as foreign minister with Israeli Prime Minister of the time Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for their role in the Oslo Peace Accords. In his move from military hawk to peacemaker, Peres was one man to his fellow Israelis and another to the rest of the world. Thus, in the wake of his death it is interesting to see how his legacy is evaluated in the media and the ways his representation is caught up within pre-conceived notions of the conflict.

Hard news reports such as CNN’s piece ‘Shimon Peres: Israel’s Warrior for Peace Dies’ by Oren Liebermann tend to focus on the peace efforts he was most known for when reporting his death. Whereas opinion pieces such as Al Jazeera’s Shimon Peres obituary: Peacemaker or War Criminal? by Jonathan Cook, tend to evaluate Peres’ entire history and to a greater extent focus on his previous hawkish background. The various focuses are impacted by what the medium of hard news/soft news requires and the type of media organisation it originates.

Hard news tends to characterise Peres as a man of peace by defining him by or focusing on his Nobel Peace Prize. Multiple publications refer to Peres as a former President, Prime Minister or Nobel Prize winner.  Liebermann’s lead describes Peres as ‘The Israeli elder statesman who shared a Nobel Prize for forging a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians’. The UK Telegraph’s headline does a similar thing ‘Shimon Peres dies: Barack Obama leads tributes to Israel’s former President and Nobel Prize winner. Many hard news stories refer to his Nobel Prize as not only is it Peres’ most well-known achievement but the connotations around the prize as exemplary provide context and evaluation with little additional description required.

nobel-arafat-peres-rabin

This is related to language used to describe Peres, which positively evaluates his achievements. Liebermann describes him as “well-respected”, “veteran”, “dove” and someone “who never stopped believing in peace”. This positions the reader to view and evaluate him ethically in light of his peace efforts rather than his hawkish background.  The audience is positioned not only by the obvious evaluative language but also the dulling of language and use of euphemisms when discussing potentially contentious issues in his history. Liebermann describes the nuclear program Peres allegedly founded as ‘shrouded in secrecy’ instead of undeclared. This is common amongst articles focusing on his peace efforts. The Telegraph describes Peres’ role in obtaining arms for the new Israeli army in 1948 as ‘circumventing arms embargoes’ rather than illegal importation. What this language suggests is the authors trying to muffle audience response and distract from ethical quandaries surrounding Peres’ role in the founding of Israel.

Hard news is not about convincing an audience but rather objectively reporting the facts to give the reader a chance to make up their own minds. As no one could deny Rupert Murdoch has a leaning, it is important to note that media organisations have an agenda and a purpose, thus, when less subjective terminology is used it is subtle choices that determine what the author is directing their audience to think. Liebermann’s article and many other hard news reports on Peres rely on appeals to authority to justify and legitimise their claims of Peres as a man of peace. It is the specific choice of quotes and authorities that demonstrate the leanings and intentions of the author. Articles referred to quotes from various international leaders, people who garner a lot of respect and celebrity.

Liebermann used emotive quotes from Barack Obama and Bill Clinton:

“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves.” –Barack Obama

“He was a genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation not conflict, economic and social empowerment not anger and frustration.”- Bill Clinton

The choice of emotive quotes, many of which make reference to personal relationships with Peres simultaneously humanize and canonize him. They reflect an assumption that the audience are followers of these international leaders and they believe western international leaders are valid sources of authority.

Another choice of authority is leaders or politicians from the Arab world or from a different perspective to Shimon Peres. The Jerusalem Post uses a quote from Bahrain’s Foreign Minister and Liebermann uses a quote from Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erakat:

“When I met him 25 years ago, I was a young professor… I was angry about something and he looked at me and said, ‘Saeb, negotiation in pain and frustration for five years is cheaper than exchanging bullets for five minutes.”

By providing quotes from different international perspectives it provides the article’s claims with a sense of legitimacy and the media organisation a sense of neutrality.

The authorities used in a news report from Al Jazeera vary greatly. The article ‘Shimon Peres, former Israeli President, dies at 93’ refers to quotes from world leaders but focuses on quotes from current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and authorities such as Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian peace negotiator and Middle East analyst Yehia Ghanem that describe Peres as a “war criminal”.

In this case they are taking the same facts and re-wording them with different authorities to lead audiences towards their view that Peres was not a man of peace but rather another hawk, without any explicitly subjective verb choices. The adjective choice, however, provides more explicit ethical evaluations that contrasts Liebermann’s through negative terms such as ‘massacre’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘occupied’ and ‘undeclared nuclear program’.

The tributes from International leaders such as Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are just a distraction to the author’s implicit main claims, used to create a sense of neutrality. The comparatively lower amount of references to western leaders over Middle Eastern sources reflects the author’s intended audience of Al Jazeera which according to a study by Allied Media Corp is 96% Muslim of which 40 million viewers are from the Arab world.

Hard news reports tend to focus on once facet of Peres, whether good or bad. However, opinion pieces tend to delve more into an evaluation of the complexity of Peres’ legacy. We can see this firstly through headlines from all sides of the media spectrum from Jonathan Cook’s article for Al Jazeera ‘Shimon Peres obituary: Peacemaker or War Criminal?’ to a New York Time’s op-ed entitled ‘Not Just a Man of Peace’.

Cook characterises Peres as a political pundit through the use of appeals to precedent, ethics and consequences to both evaluate the ethics of Peres’ legacy and position his audience to question the ethics and respectability of Peres.

Cook creates that characterisation through descriptions of Peres that include: “Disciple of David Ben-Gurion”, “inculcated in the values of Labour Zionism espoused by Israel’s East European elite” and a “Beloved figure in western capitals, where he was feted as Israel’s peacemaker-in-chief”.

The language creates an imagery of Peres as a puppet to both the western world and the Zionist movement and acts as an appeal to ethics in itself, questioning the validity of Peres legacy. The author uses this language as he considers it as accepted or a given that his audience has some level of antagonism towards the Israeli government and a level of dislike or distrust to the west. The accepted position works in conjunction with Cook’s appeals to consequences.

“The testing of the first warhead in the late 1960s was probably at least as responsible for ensuring rock-solid US patronage in subsequent decades as Israel’s rapid victory against neighbouring Arab states in the Six-Day War.”

 Cook is using that assumption to claim that Israel’s relationship to the US is a consequence of Israel’s nuclear program ergo a consequence of Peres. This is an informal fallacy and post-hoc argument as there are many reasons for the US- Israeli relationship and it can’t be solely attributed to Peres.

Cook refers to some of Peres’ more positive achievements in an attempt to appear less bias and to use them in counter-argument to discredit them. While Liebermann’s article uses Peres’ Nobel Peace Prize as justification of his central claim that Peres was a champion for peace, Cook refers to the prize as more of a backhanded compliment.

“His pivotal role in realising the Oslo Accords through a back channel in the early 1990s earned him- after frantic lobbying on his own behalf– the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, alongside Israel’s prime minister of the time, Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.”  

Cook is making excuses for the reason Peres received the award and using an informal fallacy in the form of an ad-hominem argument to say that because Peres lobbied for the award himself he did not deserve it. He is attempting to reduce the value of the award and rid the audience of potential connotations surrounding the prize. Thus, discrediting his oppositions arguments that a Nobel Peace Prize is a valued justification for their claims.

Articles that seek to question Peres’ legacy, including Cook’s tend to focus on Peres’ past rather than his beliefs and dreams as Liebermann’s article did. Cook uses appeal to precedent by carefully framing and placing ‘facts’ of historical precedent to ensure his article seems more legitimate and grounded compared to the opposing view.

“Peres plotted with these two fading colonial powers an attack on Egypt in 1956 that triggered the Suez Crisis.”  Cook uses language such as ‘plot’ and ‘colonial’ to frame this precedent as evidence of Peres bad judgment. It also acts as an appeal to consequence stating Israel/Peres as the cause of a major international incident.

Cook uses historical incidents/issues that have significant controversy attached to them and incite strong opinions and emotions from readers. Specifically, his choice to declare Peres as a champion of settlements in the West Bank, a particularly contentious issue at the moment.

“Following the 1967 war, he championed the cause of the settlers, and used his role as defence minister in the 1970s to establish the first settlements in the northern West Bank. His slogan was ‘Settlements everywhere’.”

peres

Cook is using settlements to appeal to his assumed audience and convince people who might support his peace efforts but have strong opinions on settlements to question the ethics of Peres. This precedent of Peres’ old policies is framed to avoid any further context on his stance of this issue post the 1970s.

The use of historical precedent is used in many opinion pieces in place of quotes and authorities. Opinion pieces from the National, The New York Times and CNN all fail to appeal to any authorities. Cook’s article refers to selective authorities; like Liebermann he is using authorities from a different side of the argument to increase the validity of his points. In this case he is using fairly damning quotes from Roni Ben Efrat, an Israeli political analyst and editor of the website Challenge.

“His real obsession was with his own celebrity and prestige… What he lacked was political principle. There was an air about him of plotting behind everyone’s backs. He was certainly no Nelson Mandela.”

By choosing an Israeli source, particularly one that leans more to the left of the spectrum Cook is saying to his readership that this must be a legitimate argument, if even people from his own party/country are saying it. The quote is evaluating the ethics and credibility of Peres by explicitly evaluating his principles and characterising him as a political pundit and opportunist. This point encapsulates the challenge Peres faced in his political life in which he struggled to garner the same popularity at home as he had overseas. Using an Israeli source as an authority against the typical characterisation of Peres demonstrates the complexity of his legacy and representation in the media.

When Efrat states “He was certainly no Nelson Mandela” she is referring to Obama’s eulogy, in which he compared Peres and his humanitarian effort to that of Nelson Mandela’s. This is Cook using one authority to discredit another authority used by most of his opposition. The appeal to comparison, in the sense that Efrat believes there is no real comparison between Peres and Mandela, is an evaluation of Peres and his ethics. It is bringing to light the questionable nature of Peres’ history against the indisputable righteousness of Mandela’s legacy. Mandela is considered less of a politician and more of a human rights activist whereas this comparison characterises Peres as less of a champion of human rights and more of a backroom political dealer.

Both Cook and Liebermann’s articles provide very different perspectives on Peres and his legacy but use a few similar techniques in the argumentation in an effort to prevent an explicit view of bias. Both arguments whilst utilising precedent and authority are ultimately trying to convince and appeal to people’s ethics as is the case when talking about issues relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Very rarely does it come solely down to facts, it is about hawks and doves, war and peace. Peres as a founding father of the State of Israel and a leader for peace in the Middle East is destined to have his representation and his legacy’s bound by inherent notions of the conflict. He was a complex man and his characterisation is no different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step One: Assignment Four (Topic – The Constitutional Recognition of Australia’s First Peoples) by Ryan Mahon

MDIA2002 – Step 1, Views Journalism analysis 2 (Assignment 4)

BY: RYAN MAHON

Briefly indicate the general subject area of the items you plan to cover and indicate, as best you can at this stage.

The topic that I am proposing to cover in this assignment is the current public conversation around the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia’s first people in the Australian Constitution.

There have been numerous articles and opinion pieces, which have both supported and critiqued the notion of constitutional recognition. Some articles assert that Constitutional recognition will result in a new range of court cases on native title and other articles have critiqued the consultation community with local stakeholders. I believe that Constitutional recognition would fall within the criteria for this assignment for the following reasons:

  • Items of the following politics related topics:
    • The policies of political parties.
    • Political protest and/or activist campaigns.
    • The performance, character or popularity of politicians and/or political parties (As there have been numerous opinion pieces published by Australian newspapers and publications both praising and critiquing the government’s plan to address the issue of constitutional recognition).

 

If you anticipate you will be focusing on just a few items – i.e. four or fewer, provide links if possible to this material and very briefly describe their content.

The articles that I anticipate to cover include:

  • Article one: “It’s time for governments and Indigenous people to talk” by Jackie Huggins.
    • Acknowledges that there is still a long way to-go when thinking about Indigenous rights.
    • The primary claim is that it is the responsibility of the government to represent the views of people that elected them.
      • The government needs to open up a dialogue with Indigenous Australians and move beyond rhetoric.
    • Article two: “Australia needs a treaty and constitutional recognition for Indigenous People” by George Williams.
      • The article argues that in order for Australia to move forward and progress as a nation, we need to recognize Indigenous Australians constitutionally
    • Article three: “Indigenous recognition deserves serious debate, Andrew Bolt shouldn’t be a part of it” by Paul Daley.
      • Against the person argument as Paul Daley is criticizing political commentators who are opposed to recognition.
      • By doing this, the author hopes to undermine the arguments of these commentators by lowering the status of these people in the eyes of the readership.
      • The article calls for an open and thorough debate the includes wider community input and consultation.
    • Article four: “Scant Recognition: Have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have any reason to hope?” by Megan Davis
      • Argument that Indigenous people should accept incremental change instead of what the authors to be unlikely, constitutional recognition.
      • Cites previous failed attempts at constitutional recognition.
      • Generalisation that the Australian people would rather skip, “the difficult part” of recognition and move immediately to a peaceful co-existence.
        • The article argues that this would not happen if a debate on Constitutional Recognition ‘drudged’ up cases of mistreatment and racism in the past.

 

What sorts of conclusions you anticipate you will be reaching with respect to this data?

I have concluded that, the articles provide a wide range of conclusions about how the government should respond to the issue of Indigenous recognition. Most articles employ certain primary claims and have a privileging of information, in order to convey a particular perspective. Some of the articles begin with analogies, however one analogy is for recognition, whilst one is against it, using a slippery slope argument. The articles have been published by a number of media organisations and they have different objectives and aim to influence their imagined audiences in different ways.

Donald Trump- Media’s man of the moment?

The coverage of the US Presidential race has been both plentiful and controversial. Much of this media attention, however, has been focused more on the notorious character of Donald Trump than the political views being represented in the campaign itself. An analysis of some of the prominent media coverage triggered largely by personal responses to Trump’s public appearances suggests that Trump himself is also more concerned with his own opinionated views and wealth than the policies he is pitching to the nation. Two opinion pieces from prominent media outlets are noteworthy in such coverage, one by Markus Feldenkirchen from Spiegel Online International entitled ‘America’s Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man’ and the other entitled ‘If Donald Trump was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the US Economy,’ by Emily Stewart for The Street. They reveal both authors operating with evaluative assumptions that the “average” reader is, predictably going to oppose Donald Trump and his public statements through the course of his campaign thus far. What is most fascinating is that both articles assume like-minded readers who establish a clear ‘us vs. them’ mentality about supporters for Trump. They are innately similar in that they presume the majority are in fierce opposition to his candidacy and take some offence at Trump’s public controversies.

These two articles may then provide an indicator of journalistic beliefs about news readers’ and the digital generations’ attitudes towards Donald Trump in both a personal sense and a political sense also. Accordingly, it is interesting to explore the depths of the articles and reveal both the mindset upon which they rely and the central ad hominen argument upon which their work is based. Such an analysis reveals one author, Feldenkirchen, assuming an audience with a deeply embedded dislike for the personal character of Donald Trump and his newly found position in the Presidential Race as a so-called serious political candidate. Stewart, while sharing the same foundational assumptions also provides, if only a limited acknowledgement of opposing positions, supporting this view with an appeal to fact by way of statistics and quotes. Notably, neither authors goes out of their way to convince the readers of their opinion, but rather assume it is shared by the majority.

In the article ‘America’s Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man,’ it quickly became clear that Feldenkirchen is personally opposed to Donald Trump being a candidate in the presidential race, and even further opposed to the personal views expressed by Trump. From his first characterization of Trump as “America’s Agitator” in the title, Feldenkirchen rejects the possibility of Trump making a suitable President for the United States. The article focuses on the attention given to Trump’s “hate-filled” campaign with respect to his visions for the future of America. “Trump wants a ruthless America,” the article asserts, considering how his policies and agenda are drafted to create a more exclusive system within the United State. The article labels Trump as a narcissist with “a core element of racism.”Feldernkirchen is similarly negative in his appeal to popular appeal and analogy,

Donald Trump is the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement. Nothing would be more harmful to the idea of the west and world peace than if he were elected president. George W. Bush’s America would seem like a place of logic and reason in comparison.

What is most meaningful here, however, is not Feldenkirchen’s negativity but the assumptions upon which he relies in outlining his view. This becomes evident upon close analysis of the supporting arguments he presents.
This is the argument that “his most unique characteristic is his lack of scruples.” This argument follows an ad hominen argument as it attacks Trump personally, rather than his central point or campaign. It could also be viewed as a distraction method as it is taking attention away from the policies of his campaign in the US Presidential race and drawing attention to his personality in delivering these policies. The use of these informal fallacies throughout the article demonstrates a largely opinionated description, which offers little evidence or fact by way of support. The underlying logic here is that the author can rely on an appeal to popular opinion and emotion. This is further supported by an appeal to authority, “studies have shown that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade reading level.” This supporting argument employs the use of ‘studies’ to advance his matter of simple opinion into a somewhat justified argumentation. Adding a further element of argument, Feldenkirchen again makes an appeal to authority and recognises those views that oppose his own, “Some polls even show that Trump even stands a realistic chance of winning.” While seemingly a valid recognition, however, this argument is presented in a ‘tongue in cheek,’ or prominently sarcastic manner. The author therefore does not consider that anyone’s opinion but his own is correct or endorsed.

This relies on an underlying evaluative presumption that no one takes Trump seriously as a politician. This is significant in Feldenkirchen’s appeal to emotion,

His plain and sometimes embarrassing statement, his muddled speeches and his incomprehensible narcissism have been a source of amusement.”

This suggests Trump is not taken seriously in the campaign, but is rather a source of media entertainment throughout the process. However, if the observations offered on the subject by the UK Telegraph are considered, this argument can be questioned on factual grounds as his controversial statements could be considered a business-smart and successful campaign method. In a piece entitled ‘The Five Key Ingredients of Donald Trump’s soar away Success’, Michael Barone makes the following point,

First, by staking out controversial stands on legitimate issues – immigration and trade – in his announcement speech on June 16, nearly 17 months before the general election, when he called illegal immigrants from Mexico “rapists”, conceding that some may be “good people”. This got enormous news coverage.

But it is not so much the success of Trump’s campaign that is relevant, rather the assumption upon which he relies about his shared dissatisfaction with Donald Trump being a presidential candidate to begin with, “Trump has launched an uprising of the indecent.” The underlying argument here is that Trump is not an appropriate Presidential candidate and is not deserving of a position in the Presidential Race. This would be at odds with the overwhelming support Trump has received as evidence in his selection as the Republican candidate over Hilary Clinton. In this and other arguments advanced in his article, Feldenkirchen thus assumes a largely like-minded reader and formulates the ‘logic’ of his arguments accordingly. To the extent that his assumptions are somewhat well-founded, this suggests a notable level of support for his complaints against Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

The article by Emily Stewart ‘If Donald Trump was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the US Economy,’ is somewhat in line with these arguments. This articles focuses on Trump’s current position in the US Presidential race, deliberating his policies though analogies with Trump’s personal fortune and personal life. It discusses what has been labelled as the “Trump effect,” fundamentally agreeing with mass media notion that Trump is not fit to be president. Stewart’s article, however, is founded more significantly on argumentation rather than the simple opinion offered by Feldenkirchen. She is strong in her view that Trump’s campaign has resulted in overwhelming amounts of opposition.

Trump has made plenty of enemies along the way as well, including but not limited to fellow GOP contenders Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Fox News Journalist Megyn Kelly, the media in general and even the pope.

Right from the introduction in this article, like Feldenkirchen, she is operating with the assumption that her readers share a similar view. Thus, she too follows an ad hominen structure as rather than making an argument by way of challenge to those who have criticised the proposal, she attacks the personal character of Donald Trump. This is evident in her assumption that his controversial public claims are representative of his views and are not merely a public relations stunt for media attention throughout his presidential campaign. For example, “Trump has certainly been this election cycle’s most riveting figure,” again focuses on the person himself rather than his position within the US Presidential Race. In an appeal to both fact and social norms, Stewart questions the personal fortune of Trump,

Trump’s brand has contributed an enormous amount of his net worth- he says more than $3 billion. But how will that trumpiness translate to the White House? Perhaps not well.

It is noteworthy here that she simply invents a new term, ‘trumpiness’ here without any means of explanation or definition. In the context of the argument, however, the term carries with it negative connotations and thus has implicit meaning. This requires a significant amount of deductive reasoning from the reader, however, given that Stewart is assuming a like-minded audience, this merely continues to fit with her evaluative claims. From this, Stewart moves on to include an appeal to authority,

While Trump certainly has some grandiose ideas- and equally lofty rhetoric to accompany them- Deciphering the exact nature of his economic policies is a complex task, according to John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at Washington DC.

The underlying assumption here is that Trump’s campaign is an act and that Trump is an actor within it. This continues to build on an underlying assumption that he is not being truthful in his campaign. This is supported by an article entitled ‘The Mind of Donald Trump’ in the Atlantic, written by Dan McAdams.

More than even Ronald Reagan, Trump seems supremely cognizant of the fact that he is always acting. He moves through life like a man who knows he is always being observed. If all human beings are, by their very nature, social actors, then Donald Trump seems to be more so—superhuman, in this one primal sense.

Here, McAdams supports Stewart’s assumption that Trump is a questionable presidential candidate. Interestingly, however, in the second half of the article Stewart acknowledges other possibilities and arguments that question her own position and assumed position of the reader. Stewart states multiple times, “Not everyone agrees,” this acknowledging that people do oppose her central assumption, and therefore adds credibility to her argument. She quotes,

I think Donald Trump is good for the Republican Party, and I think he’s good for the country,” Busler said. “Donald Trump is not afraid to face the public and raise his voice, even if it is politically unpopular.

By ending her article with this quote, Stewart’s article become somewhat juxtaposing as she flips the underlying assumption of her piece on its head by ending with a positive attitude. Arguably, this could be considered a tactical use of deduction as it leaves the reader to draw his or her own opinion and understanding from Stewart’s article.

Arguably, then, both articles are suggestive of a readership, which is hostile towards Donald Trump on either a personal or political level of interaction. The two pieces are both centred primarily on an ad hominen argument and evaluative presumption that assumes the readership shares in their personal views and argumentative points. Though different in their final nature, both articles are fundamentally similar in their underlying assumptions, primary conclusions and claims.

Word count excluding references,
(1, 522)

Grey Lines in the New South Wales Greyhound Racing Industry. BY: RYAN MAHON

 

Grey Lines in the New South Wales Greyhound Racing Industry

MDIA2002 Assessment 3: First Media Analysis Article

BY: RYAN MAHON

Debate about the future of greyhound racing and its place in New South Wales society has gained front-page status in recent months. Following allegations about the mistreatment of animals in the greyhound industry the morality and legality of greyhound racing in New South Wales has become a hotly contested issue in the State’s Legislative and political agenda. The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW undertaken by the Honorable Michael McHugh AC QC, set out 79 recommendations as to how the greyhound industry could be reformed. The Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 provided the NSW Government’s initial response to the report (Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016). Public debate about whether the industry should accept the 79 recommendations of the Inquiry or whether greyhound racing should be banned in New South Wales has been a divisive issue in print and broadcast media.

Print media articles have framed the debate using different perspectives to either condemn the Greyhound Racing Industry or to condemn the Inquiry handed down in June 2016. Two such opinion pieces, Greyhound racing: the gruesome facts that led to NSW ban by Caroline Overington for The Australian Newspaper and Greyhound racing industry dogged to its death by ‘social licence’ by Hedley Thomas, also for The Australian Newspaper frame the same issue with different perspectives. A critical analysis of each article concludes that despite the articles having distinct differences in opinion on the same issue, they both assume that the readership believes the welfare of animals should the number one priority in the Greyhound Racing Industry. Neither author could claim that the assumptions in their articles about the greyhound industry widely represent public opinion, however these articles do provide in-depth case studies of their assumed readership.

It is not immediately apparent that Overington is supportive of legislative changes to ban greyhound racing in NSW in the introduction of her article, however the central claim is evident in the headline, “Greyhound racing: the gruesome facts that led to NSW ban”. The emotive evaluation of the industry by using the words, “gruesome facts” indicates an evaluative judgement against greyhound racing. The article was written before the legislation banning greyhound racing was passed into law by the New South Wales Parliament, however Overington wrote, “that led to NSW ban”. By using the “that led”, Overington is creating a direct causal link between the “gruesome facts” and the “NSW ban”. This could indicate that Overington made an evaluative presumption as she assumed that the legislation would pass through the NSW Parliament and the industry would be outlawed.

Overington uses opinion within a deeply embedded argument to add veracity to her claims and conclusions about greyhound racing. In the introductory analogy of her article, Overington is evasive in clearly outlining her claim, instead framing a story then providing the claim almost in contradiction to the analogy she provides at the beginning of the article.

My sister-in-law… A gentler, kinder person you will not find. And yes, she races greyhounds.

I guess I should be opposed to NSW Premier Mike Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing then. But how can I be opposed, when I’ve read the report into the industry, all 237 miserable pages of it?”

 You can’t read the report and not be horrified.”

This would be a telling indication of who the imagined audience is for Overington as she repeatedly uses “I” and “you”, assuming a like-minded audience who would see the treatment of greyhounds as horrifying. Essentially Overington believes that her readership would agree with her underlying ideology, however she does not assume that the readership has intimate knowledge of the Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry and proceeds to explain the outcome of the Inquiry in greater detail. The Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry received evidence of various forms of mistreatment of greyhounds bred for racing and live baiting practices for training greyhounds.

Overington uses an analogy about her sister, “a greyhound trainer who loves her dogs”, to acknowledge the argument that not everybody involved in the industry is bad. However, she later says that despite this, she cannot support the continuation of the Greyhound Racing industry. Overington projects her imagined audience as one that would agree with her on the notion of animal welfare, but one that may not know enough on the industry to be definitively for or against it. Overington uses her article as a vehicle to convince her audience of this.

It is also evident that Overington not only attempts to assert a point of view, but she is also attempting to undermine the arguments put forward by other journalists supporting the industry. Such an argument is that the entire industry should not be punished because of the actions of a minority of trainers. Despite this, Overington is supporting the notion of collective punishment by supporting the greyhound racing ban despite some people involved in the industry being “kind” and gentle”. Overington’s primary claim is that the Greyhound Racing industry should be banned or outlawed in New South Wales. There are a number of warrants or assumed beliefs that Overington takes for granted to support her conclusion about greyhound racing. These include that the New South Wales Government is a legislative authority and their judgements should be trusted. Additionally, that we as a society should not abuse animals and that ethical obligations, like a duty of care to greyhounds, is more important than any potential economic benefit derived from such activities, such as the $300 million a year the industry provides to the State economy.

From this, a dichotomy emerges between the evaluations asserted by Overington and Hedley Thomas as one clearly supports extensive reform, but the continuation of the Greyhound Racing Industry whilst the other article wishes to see the industry banned. However, they both use similar views journalism techniques to convey their points and to attempt to convince their imagined audiences. Both articles try to appeal to emotion as Overington attempts to create empathy from the readership for the abused animals in the industry.

Thomas predicts the impact of banning the industry and tries to evoke empathy for the employers, greyhound breeders, racers and punters involved in the industry and make them relatable to the readership. Thomas is appealing to consequence as he is claiming that the industry should not be banned. His justificatory support for this claim is that,

“An industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year is being prepared for the chop in 11 months; thousands of dogs face death; and the livelihoods and passions of owners, trainer, breeders, club officials and punters, along with countess small businesses built on racing’s spin-offs, are being abolished with the stroke of a politician’s pen.”

Thomas alludes to possible negative consequences for animal welfare, people involved in the industry and indirectly local and State economies. In addition, Thomas is also appealing to the popular opinion that politicians are out of touch with society. The Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 (NSW), will not become law until it is signed off by the Governor of NSW. However, Thomas chooses to write, “politician’s pen” alluding that it is the will of a single politician to pass this legislation, which in Thomas’ perspective does not represent community expectations. Thomas is predicting negative consequences resulting from this ban and blaming the ban on the will of politicians and not the mistreatment of animals in the industry.

Overington proposes a counter-argument to this point made by Thomas as Overington almost accuses journalists who make these observations as using informal fallacies and over-generalisations. Overington said,

“We’re meant to feel romantic about “the working man” who enjoys an innocent night out at the “dishies”. To my mind, that’s offensive to people on low incomes. Because they’re poor, they’ll overlook what the committee has found… Dead dogs with broken backs, drowned puppies in their thousands.”

Overington critiques the generalisation or the appeal to comparison that authors, including Thomas make by using analogies about, “the working man”, who enjoys going to the races or those people supported by and dependent on the Greyhound Racing Industry. Overington claims that such an assertion should be considered a false analogy as it is an appeal to a stereotype that may not hold true and is deterministic or presumptuous about the characteristics of people on low incomes. This comment automatically assumes that Overington’s readership would primarily be middle-class, as she is linking the terms, “working man” and “poor” together. If her intended audience was lower-class, this could be deemed as extremely offensive to them.

Overington attempts to appeal to the emotions of her readership by providing a confronting analogy about the treatment of animals. Overington wrote,

“One trainer used an upturned bicycle with the wheels removed. He’d rigged it up so he could connect a live rabbit to a rope and use the bike pedals to drag the shrieking bunny away from the starter boxes before the dogs jumped out.”

The main claim that this appeal supports is that it is wrong for people to harm animals. Further to this, Overington uses the slippery slope argument to determine that a line has to be drawn at some point over where animal’s rights should be given priority over their value as a source of entertainment. Of the ban and her final evaluative statement supporting it Overington wrote,

“But it’s really just drawing a line across the carnage. How much horror are we prepared to expect to accept? How much savagery, towards man’s best friend?”

There is an emphasis on the “we”, claiming that it is both the responsibility of the readership as well as government to lobby for the ban, however Overington does not ask the readership to take action on the issue. What Overington is seeking is armchair agreement. Overington also appeals to cultural norms, as dogs are often seen as being “man’s best friend”.

Hedley Thomas, also from the Australian wrote an article on the Inquiry into greyhound racing. Thomas’ article is called “Greyhound racing industry dogged to its death by ‘social licence’”. Thomas’ stance on greyhound racing is more apparent in the introduction of the Hendley Thomas’ article with the headline, “Greyhound racing industry dogged to its death by ‘social licence’”. In his headline, Thomas is blaming the notion of a “social licence” for the downfall of the greyhound racing and not the findings from the Inquiry into greyhound racing. Thomas then continues to question the veracity of the inquiry into the industry by critiquing the opening speech of the Inquiry. Thomas wrote, “It started with a quote that appears to be a hoax.” Thomas attempts to defend the industry, by attacking the credibility of the commission condemning the Greyhound Racing Industry. Thomas also wrote,

“Rushton’s opening rhetorical flourish was the first in a number of misfires, say lawyers and participants, in an unusually run inquiry that saw the senior lawyer on public day one declaring the message to the government about the $300 million-plus-a-year industry was: ‘Just shut it down’.” [Emphasis added]

A subsidiary judgement in this statement is that the money from greyhound racing goes toward boosting the State economy. Thomas attempts to appeal to consequences by emphaisising the value of the industry. While Overington in her article appeals to the authority of the Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW, Thomas wishes to undermine the authority of the of lawyers assisting the Commissioner of the inquiry, the Hon. Michael McHugh. This is an Ad Hominem argument, meaning a judgement or critique is made about another person with opposing views to the author. Thomas is arguing against proponents for the ban, by trying to undermine their authority in the field. This is evident when Thomas wrote,

“Stephen (Rushton SC Government appointed Counsel) could have begun with an open-minded view about whether the industry… had a future under a tougher regime.

“Instead, he made it plain that greyhound racing was bad for too many animals. He introduced an amorphous requirement, saying that “a sport which utilises animals cannot operate without a social licence” and declaring the industry has lost this indeterminate thing.” 

A key argument proposed by Thomas is the definition of social licence and how this term has been used out context in order to justify the banning the industry. The term social licence is used twelve times throughout his article and one such example of when it was used is,

1 – “Instead, he made it plain that greyhound racing was bad for too many animals. He introduced an amorphous requirement, saying that “a sport which utilises animals cannot operate without a social licence” and declaring the industry had lost this indeterminate thing…

2 – “No one has ever seen, touched, smelt, heard, tasted or sensed a social licence. No one has ever owned a social licence. A social licence has never been bought or sold, inherited, transferred, copied, faked or handed in …(yet) the Premier has announced his intention to ban an entire industry based on it ‘losing its social licence.”

Social licence, as defined by the Commission of Inquiry is given a stipulative definition by Thomas and identified as a contentious term in his article. This first quote claims that the grounds for the proposed closure of the Industry is because it lacks a social licence. However, the second quote challenges the definition of a social licence. Since Thomas’ stipulative definition of a social licence is something that is non-tangible, then a lack of such a licence cannot be grounds for the Industry being banned.

Interestingly, only Overington used a personal analogy to solidify her argument. Thomas disclaimed that he has a minority interest in a race dog, however he did not use any analogies about his experiences with this dog. This could be since he did not want there to be, or for the perception of bias to be seen in his writing. Whilst Overington has a causal argument where there is a logical flow of ideas, leading to her conclusion to ban greyhound racing, Thomas’ argument does not have the same logic. Thomas attempts to undermine the authority of the Commission of Inquiry and draws conclusions on matters where there may not be logical links. Such an example is his assertion the Inquiry was pre-determined to push for a ban or that the Inquiry was conducted, “without regard for natural justice or procedural fairness.” If Thomas provided evidence to back up his claims, his article could have more argument than simple opinion.

In addition to opinion, Overington and Thomas use arguments to add veracity to their points, however Overington does this to a greater extent. It would therefore not be unreasonable to believe that the basic assumptions that these authors operate under is broadly representative of public opinion toward animal welfare, the general view that animals rights should be protected when appropriate. The two articles take very different view on the Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry with Overtington saying, “The Industry is trying hard to deny it, but the report has data”. Overington uses this data to add veracity to her arguments. However, Thomas attempts to discredit the Inquiry by saying it was, “Glaring lack of procedural fairness and, at times, a process verging on shambolic.” In addition, it is evident that both articles have a privileging of information, by appealing to authorities either from the Commission of Enquiry or from the Greyhound Racing Industry.

A critical analysis of both articles reveals that both authors are appealing to an imagined readership that both cares about the welfare of animals in the racing industry and are skeptical of the measures taken to ensure the protection of these animals. Overington and Thomas both argue that their articles’ maintain the view that the welfare of animals should be the priority of regulatory authorities, however they argue this point to different ends. With the Greyhound racing Prohibition Bill 2016 passed into legislation, greyhound racing in the State of New South Wales is set to become illegal effective the July 1st, 2017. Underlying both the Overington and Thomas articles is the opinion of the respective authors, attempting to convince the readership of their point of view.

 

Articles used:

Additional Resource:

 

Greyhound racing—Sport or Unethical Capitalism?

“Good journalistic commentary should act as a kind of information brokerage, translating the facts into knowledge – something we can think and argue about.”

In February 2015, ABC’s Four Corners aired, ‘Making A Killing’, which, through secret surveillance footage obtained over the course of six months, revealed evidence of systematic animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry. This included the euthanasia of injured or underperforming dogs, and the practice of ‘live baiting’—where live animals are strapped to mechanical lures and rotated around the racetracks at high speeds until they are mauled to death by the greyhounds.

The exposé prompted the NSW government to launch a Special Commission of Inquiry into the multi-million dollar industry, eventually leading to the Liberal government’s decision to ban greyhound racing in NSW from July 2017.

Daily Life’s ‘Admit it. Mike Baird has finally done something right with his greyhound racing banby Ruby Hamad, and The Daily Telegraph’s, ‘Why have we let vegans with piercings destroy greyhound racing’ by Miranda Devine, are two contrasting views journalism articles that present the opposing arguments that have risen in light of the controversy. The principle claim of Ruby Hamad’s article is that greyhound racing exploits animals for monetary gain, and that opposers of the ban are embodiments of falsehood, greed and hypocrisy. On the contrary, Miranda Devine asserts that greyhound racing is a traditional and unifying Australian sport, intrinsic to its culture, and that the ban will do more harm than good for both humans and animals.

In Ruby Hamad’s article, this primary claim is made explicit in the line:

“Perhaps I should be used to it by now, given the traditional left lets us down time and time again in its refusal to acknowledge the central role animal exploitation plays in unsustainable and unethical capitalism.”

Here, Hamad denounces the Labor party for their response to the greyhound racing controversy despite the author’s personal political views; throughout the article, Hamad frequently states her aversion to the Liberal government, which is made explicit from the very title and opening lines of the article. The running motif of “opposite land” is repeated numerous times throughout the article to reinforce the author’s astonishment at the Liberal government’s support of the ban, especially since the party is “not known for its compassion.” By condemning the political party she typically supports and praising the government she typically opposes, Hamad suggests that her stance on the matter is unbiased and founded on logical argumentation.

Likewise, Miranda Devine makes her primary claim explicit in her justification that the greyhounds represent a culture of “male battlers in regional Australia hanging onto their dignity, whose main social interaction is a night at the doggies.” Devine appeals to the emotions of her readers by comparing the races to a “social network” that provides members of a segregated community with an opportunity to bond and socialize. This is further intensified by Devine’s claim that “Baird and his cabinet signed the industry’s death warrant to signal their virtue.” Similar to Hamad’s article, Devine expresses an underlying aversion to the Liberal government and claims that the banning of greyhound racing is an attack on the “poor and powerless.”

Both authors assert evaluative arguments regarding the Liberal and Labor parties, and the underlying warrant that these arguments are founded upon is that Australians are wary and untrusting of politicians. However, while Hamad utilizes this to establish a more impartial and reliable authorial voice, Devine uses it to bolster her argument that Mike Baird and his cabinet have ulterior motives in shutting down the greyhound racing industry.

A close critical interrogation of the texts also reveals that both authors rely on their readers’ sense of compassion and sympathy to assert their arguments. They also share a common, underlying worldview that humans have a responsibility to protect the welfare of animals, and prevent their subjection to unnecessary cruelty.

Devine portrays individuals of the greyhound industry as compassionate, isolated and hard-working middle-class individuals, and this is achieved through the integration of direct quotes and emotive language. One such direct quote is from Rob Ingram, a greyhound breeder, who claims, “My dogs are my life.”

Devine argues, “For men like Ingram, greyhounds provide a place in a community with a purpose, where they feel valued.” This argument is immediately undercut and juxtaposed with the truncated sentence, “And all of it has been casually trashed by the Premier.” The word choice, ‘casually’, suggests that Baird made the decision to ban greyhound racing without much consideration or thought into how it would affect the “livelihood and lifestyle of thousands of greyhound trainers, owners and breeders who love their dogs and take good care of them, not to mention the people who work at race tracks and pubs and dog food suppliers…” This elongated sentence, riddled with repetitions of ‘and’, serves to highlight the sheer number of people who will bear the brunt of the ban.

Here, Devine emphasises how humans and human agency will be affected by the ban, persuading readers to empathise with fellow human beings, and revealing the warrant that the rights and well being of humans are more important than that of animals.

In a similar fashion, Ruby Hamad relies upon her audiences’ emotions to put forth the justification that the greyhound racing industry is driven by the selfish agendas of money-hungry trainers and breeders.

Hamad adopts a sarcastic tone to criticize the incongruity and irony of the greyhound trainers’ ‘sudden’ compassion and claims that the dogs are “part of the family,” when all they do is “commodity, extract value from, and then kill [the dogs] when they are no longer financially useful.” Here, Hamad uses hasty generalisation as a rhetorical device to paint the entire greyhound racing industry in a negative light and portray its supporters as being cunning and deceitful. This is intended to appeal to readers’ sense of justice.

Thus, while both authors appeal to the emotions of their readers as the basis of their arguments, one of the key differences between Devine’s article and Hamad’s article is that the former tries to elicit sentiments of sympathy from readers while the latter attempts to rouse anger.

The articles are also distinct in their argumentative styles. While Hamad assumes that the majority of her readers are in alignment with her opinions, and hence, concentrates her efforts towards rebutting opposing arguments, Devine assumes her readership will consist of individuals in opposition to her claims, and thus directs her persuasive tactics to defending her argument.

For example, Devine appeals to precedent by alluding the 1840 abolition of dog carting in London, which led to the “bloated bodies of 150, 000 dogs [choking] the Thames River.” Descriptive words connoting death, such as “slaughter”, “bloated” and “choked” are employed to form a violent and graphic imagery of masses of dead and lifeless dogs. The comparison is used to assert the causal argument that banning greyhound racing will result in the harm and death of more dogs, and reveals the author’s assumption that readers will have an emotional affiliation to animals.

However, a contradiction becomes apparent as, at multiple points throughout her article, Devine associates negative connotations with animal activists and vegans; at one point, generalizing them as having “nose piercings and psychological hangups.” The slippery slope or domino theory is also evident in her claim:

“And then the empowered animal activists will move on to their next targets—horse racing, then farm animals, then who knows what. They will not stop until we’re all vegan ciphers.”

This intentional contradiction reveals Devine’s attempt to simultaneously convince and condemn her audience through the argument that animal welfare advocates have taken it too far and infringed on human autonomy.

Similarly, Hamad resorts to the informal fallacy of hasty generalisation in her argument that much of the opposition to the ban comes from inner city residents who believe that the racetracks will be used for the development of high-rise apartments. The warrant here is that Sydney’s inner-city suburbs are affluent or ‘white-washed.’ The author oversimplifies the opponents of her argument as being selfish ‘elitists’ who are putting up a front of altruism, “under the guise of supporting the working class”, for the sake of preventing residential development in ‘their’ “gentrified” inner city. The use of divisive language, such as the third person personal pronouns, ‘they’ and ‘their’, serve to reinforce the dichotomy between the “wealthy whites” and those who see “advocating for animals as an essential part of progressive politics.”

Overall, these key findings have also uncovered greater revelations about the Australian society and media coverage of societal, political and environmental issues. Firstly, they suggest that Australians have an inherent scepticism to the ethics and honesty of politicians, and thus, are more likely to trust the authority of the media. Secondly, they reveal that journalistic opinion items concerning issues of social justice, civil liberties and human rights, including animal welfare, heavily rely on the sympathy of their audiences and thus, often override logical and factual argumentation with passionate and evocative assertions that appeal to emotions.

In essence, while Hamad’s and Devine’s articles share many common underlying warrants, assumptions and worldviews, the authors use them to augment contrasting claims and argumentations. The key difference between the two articles is their argumentative styles; one is more argumentative—refuting the claims made by the opposing side—, while the other is defensive—attempting to highlight the cause-and-effect consequences of the greyhound racing ban on both humans and animals.

By April Kwon

‘Why have we let vegans with piercings destroy greyhound racing.’ The Daily Telegraph. Miranda Devine.

<http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/why-have-we-let-vegans-with-piercings-destroy-greyhound-racing/news-story/7059d515558ea90be78364e13d0c9606>

 

‘Admit it. Mike Baird has finally done something right with his greyhound racing ban.’ Daily Life. Ruby Hamad.

<http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/admit-it-mike-baird-has-finally-done-something-right-with-his-greyhound-racing-ban-20160713-gq4tht.html>