For the following short articles: think about
- What is the author’s view?
- What is their tone?
- What evidence does the author use?
- What appeals do they make?
- What words stand out and why?
- What other techniques are evident and what is their impact?
(See Checklist for Technique Identification). Use this checklist as the basis for the following “taking it further” exercises.
Exercise 7: A dog’s life (p. 10)
Main contention/ Viewpoint: Mr Jack Smith of Brunburn disagrees with the Mornington Council’s proposed new law to restrict the length of a dog’s lead to one metre.
Tone: Mr Smith adopts an aggrieved tone and presents “sensible” dog owners as the unwitting victims of the Council’s decision. He is exasperated when he asks rhetorically, “do they want us to choke our dogs”, which suggests that the dogs are also being harmed. Mr Smith also makes sarcastic comments about the councillors, such as: ‘Maybe the councillors have something against dogs?”
Technique: Mr Smith attacks the councillors by implying that they appear to object personally to dogs. Thus he hopes to exclude and shame them. Contrastingly, by presenting dogs and dog owners as victims, he seeks to elicit sympathy and encourage the councillors to change the rules.
Technique/appeal: Mr Smith appeals to the reader’s moral values when he states that it is unfair that sensible dog owners will be punished because of the actions of an irresponsible few.
In addition, he also appeals to our moral compass and sense of responsibility by implying that dog owners like himself are sensible and want to enjoy a “friendly outing”.
Impact: He expects members of the public to recognise that the Council’s rules are unfair and to vent their dismay at the decision.
The potato sack deception, p. 11
View: Harry Jon (Coolabar) maintains that the government should ban the burqa in public because he believes that the public will associate people wearing the burqa with criminal activity.
Tone: Mr Jon comments with an authoritative tone that “its use is shaming their religion and is of no benefit to anyone.”
Technique: If its use is shaming their religion, then Mr Jon is also introducing a moral appeal (hence a self-righteous tone). He seeks to exclude those who may be guilty of criminal activity.
Technique: Mr Jon asks a rhetorical question, “how do we know who’s hiding behind those potato sacks?”
Impact/purpose: This statement strikes fear into members of the public and undermines their sense of safety in the community. It may also inflame racist sentiments.
Tone: The tone of the question is provocative and inflammatory.
Technique/ attack: The word “potato sack” deliberately ridicules the burqa and those who wear them.
Technique: Mr Jon appeals to common sense. He implies that Muslims should recognise that the ban is sensible because it will prevent people from misusing the burqa and from wearing it for deceptive purposes.
A Family Affair, (p. 11)
View: Mr James of Black Rock asserts that parents should have the right to discipline children in their own homes.
Tone: Mr James is amazed that the police do not have anything better to worry about except how a mother is disciplining her child. The tone is both annoyed and incredulous.
Technique: Mr James uses short sentence fragments to emphasise that the weapon was not harmful. “Not a knife. Not even a strap. No! A wooden spoon”.
Technique: He uses a rhetorical question to ask, “if there isn’t an obvious case of violence, should they be interfering in family life?”
Technique: Attack: The author discredits the police and implies that they are wasting their time.
Impact/purpose: Mr James expects us to feel indignant at the police because they are interfering in family affairs.
Drugs in sport, Ms Janie Haughton p. 12
View: Ms Haughton criticises the MFL’s policy and believes it must suspend players who use drugs.
Tone: She adopts an indignant tone to convey her dismay at the fact that David Hones was not suspended. She adopts a righteous and blunt tone to state that they should be harshly punished.
Evidence: As the basis for her discussion, Ms Haughton refers to the anecdotal reference regarding the MFL players who took illicit drugs.
Attack: (appeal to leadership) Ms Haughton discredits the MFL because of its casual approach to the players’ drug offences. Purpose: Ms Haughton seeks to shame and isolate those who do not take a firm stance against drugs.
Appeals: The author appeals to leadership and moral standards when she states that the MFL and its players must provide an example to the younger generation. Currently, she states that they are not showing sufficient responsibility. “He (David Hones) should have been suspended”, but was not. (She shames those players who are disappointing their fans and parents.) Purpose: These comments are likely to provoke the reader’s anger towards the MFL, especially given the size of the footballer’s pay-packet. They are also bound to stimulate hostile feelings among the public.
Purpose: Ms Haughton seeks to encourage members of the public to recognise that such sporting institutions have an important role to play in setting public standards and she therefore expects people to pressure the MFL to discipline players more strictly.
Technique: The author appeals to emotions and our moral compass when she refers to the “fatal consequences for the user”. This elicits sympathy for the younger generation who are betrayed by their idols.
Technique: The author appeals to the reader’s sense of logic when she makes a connection between the footballers’ example and the behaviour of supporters. This is designed to alarm members of the public, especially parents of young children.
Give cyclists a break
View: Ms Winter maintains that it is important for the government to provide bicycle paths for cyclists.
Technique: Ms Winter uses anecdotal evidence relating to two accidents – Ms Crosby’s and her daughter’s.
Impact/ purpose: The real-life example of her daughter is designed to evoke sympathy towards injured cyclists.
Impact / purpose: The anecdote seeks to illustrate the indifference of many motorists. Accordingly, the author encourages us to feel indignant at such reckless behaviour.
“Dump homework”, the Editorial, The Daily
The editor believes that we must assess whether there is any value to homework in primary school.
View: The author believes that homework does not serve any useful purpose in primary school.
Audience: The editor’s discussion of homework targets teachers, parents and school children.
Tone: sensible; rational; forthright; assertive. The author adopts an assertive tone to state that “it does not pass the test”. Because the editor is very forceful, they command authority and people are more likely to believe their views.
Technique/ language: The editor uses a pun— that homework has does not “pass the test” — to discredit its purpose.
Technique: The Editor refers to an expert organisation, the Australian Council of State School Organisations, to reinforce their point that homework should be “dumped”. This colloquial expression “dumped” makes a forceful impression and implies that homework is worthless.
Purpose/impact: It suggests children are being subjected to unnecessary stress, which is likely to make both parents and children alike feel anxious. Teachers may, understandably, have mixed reactions.
Appeal to health and wellbeing/fear: The editor places a higher priority than many on the children’s health and wellbeing and their personal happiness. By acknowledging children’s and parents’ fears about homework, the editor seeks to win support from parents who worry about their children becoming tired and stressed.
Appeal to morals/attack: “Schools should be a fun place of learning.” “Let children be kids once they get home.” (parental responsibility/ high-minded tone.) The editor believes that homework should not be given to children if it is stressful. The editor seeks to isolate teachers and schools that give children so much homework that it becomes stressful.
Technique: appeal to family values: The Editor also appeals to family values when he states that “let children be kids once they get home”. This suggests that homework denies them a childhood.
As a netball coach, Ms Tanmount shares her professional opinion with readers and impresses upon them the need for parallel competitions so that the girls will not be penalised by the unreasonable height of some boys. Ms Tanmount relies on the real life example of Jack Brimbank to prove that he would have an unfair advantage thus eliciting feelings of frustration and anger in her target audience. The author describes the girls as unfairly disadvantaged and thus arouses sympathy for their plight as the underdog. (“feel threatened”). The author wishes to guard against a competition that would perversely favour the boys in a traditional female sport. Accordingly, Ms Tanmount appeals to values such as equal opportunity and justice to ensure that the girls received a “level playing field”. She implies that it is unfair to discriminate against the girls who would feel intimidated and threatened. She uses the idiomatic phrase of the “level playing field to” to …
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