Exercise 13 - Objective Report or Subjective Opinion
The following text appeared in The Sun, a British tabloid, on April 20th, 2010. Read the text and answer the questions at the end. (The lay-out has been changed)
The SUN Says
DAVID Cameron showed good judgment last night in tackling the Nick Clegg threat head-on.
The Tory leader treated us as adults in his TV address. He didn't rubbish the Lib Dems or ignore their sudden success. Instead he spelled out clearly why HE is the real change we need. He made three points every voter should consider.
First, it was vital to be straight on the economy. Not just say what people wanted to hear.
Mr Cameron has been franker on the tough times ahead than Mr Clegg. His figures on the economy add up. Mr Clegg's do not.
Second, he emphasised strong leadership - the sort he showed over the MPs' expenses scandal. He axed greedy Tories. Mr Clegg dithered.
Among Mr Clegg's MPs are the likes of Lembit Opik and Chris Huhne. Mr Opik claimed £2,499 for a television and summoned an electrician from Wales to fix his lights in London, costing the taxpayer £1,791. Multi-millionaire Mr Huhne, who owns seven properties, claimed for a 79p packet of chocolate HobNobs. Both are standing again as senior members of Mr Clegg's team.
Mr Cameron's third point was about the importance of a game-changing idea.
Mr Clegg doesn't have one. But Mr Cameron does. His Big Society, where families and communities enjoy more freedom and responsibility, would replace Gordon Brown's bossy Big State.
As the Tory leader said, the worst result would be a hung Parliament with nobody in charge.
Some fed-up voters think we would be better off that way. We wouldn't. Britain has to make a clear choice. If not, we'll be doing all this again in the autumn.
Mr Clegg is the political equivalent of a holiday romance. An exciting fortnight's flirtation so long as you don't ask too many questions. We cannot gamble the nation's future like that.
As David Cameron says, honesty and leadership and vision are the change we need.
He can deliver that. Nick Clegg can't.
- Write a five-line summary of the article. Use your own words as far as possible.
- Choose material from the article to prove that this is not an objective news report.
- What genre would you put it in?
- Which political party do you think The Sun supports? Base your reasons on this text.
- On a scale from 1 to 10 - where 1 is very simple and 10 is very complex – how would you characterise the language of the text? Refer to specific examples from both grammar and vocabulary when you justify your answer.
- Explain the meaning of to rubbish (1. paragraph), to dither (3. paragraph), game-changing idea (4. paragraph), a hung Parliament (5. paragraph). What does …all this again… in paragraph 5 refer to?
- The heading echoes a recent election campaign. Whose?
- This is just one possible summary.
David Cameron made a good impression in his television address last night. Unlike his opponent Nick Clegg, he was quite frank about the need for sorting out the economy; he took on the greedy MPs with their scandalous expense claims, and he talked straight about the necessary change from Gordon Brown’s Big State to a state where people enjoy more personal freedom. David Cameron has the vision and the will to bring about change; Nick Clegg, whose ideas do not stand up to close examination, does not.
- See 3 below
- This is an editorial, a subjective comparison of the policies of David Cameron and Nick Clegg. In fact, the text says: The Sun Says, so we are in no doubt about the genre and the purpose of the text, viz. to influence readers.
- It is common knowledge that The Sun supports the Conservative Party. This shines through in the way the editorial presents the political situation. It is done in one-dimensional black and white contrasts with the short pithy statements we find in the second part of these examples:
- His figures on the economy add up. Mr Clegg’s do not.
- He axed greedy Tories. Mr Clegg dithered.
- Some fed-up voters think we would be better off that way. We wouldn’t.
- ..the importance of a game-changing idea. Mr Clegg doesn’t have one. But Mr Cameron does.
- He can deliver. Nick Clegg can’t.
- We would say it is around 4/5. On the whole, the sentences are short, written in simple syntax, with an unusual number of ellipses (see examples in 4 above). The words belong to the general vocabulary of most readers. Besides, the lay-out, with each main point given a separate paragraph, makes it easy to read. Words like rubbish (v), axe (v), fed-up (n) give it an informal flavour.
- To rubbish = ‘to treat like rubbish’, ‘something of little or no value’; to dither = ‘to hesitate’; game-changing idea = ‘an idea that would change the ‘game of government’’; a hung Parliament = ‘a Parliament where no party has more representatives than the others added together (and therefore has limited political power)’; do all this again = ‘we would have to go through another election again soon’.
- The emphasis on change echoes Barack Obama’s election campaign.