Part C: Your turn
As the quiz demonstrates, the journalist who wrote the article did not present much factual information. He or she used inference, opinion and emotive language to imply various things about the events in Wundowie and the people who were responsible.
Journalists often imply meaning without actually stating something as fact. For example, the journalist infers that local youth were responsible for the crime although there is no evidence provided to support this. This is done by including a quote from an unnamed local resident who mentions local youth.
The journalist also infers the same people are responsible for both the burnouts and the graffiti by mentioning that images of the burnouts appeared 'only yesterday', which implies there is a connection.
Quoting sources is an important way for journalists to present different perspectives when reporting the news. In the article, the journalist uses comments from a local resident to offer opinion and fill out the story. In this case, however, only one side of the story is presented and the source is extensively relied on although they remain unnamed, which brings the reliability of the source into question. The journalist uses this source to paint a very negative view about the youth in Wundowie.
Emotive language can be used by journalists to engage readers with the text. In this article the journalist uses language, such as 'mindless graffiti vandals', 'shocking pictures', and 'endless trail of rubber' to create a strong emotional response from the reader. This strategy has been used to make the reader feel negative towards the people responsible for the crime.
As you saw above, the facts that the journalist was working with were:
- graffiti had been painted on the Wundowie police station
- burnout marks had appeared on the street
- the police were investigating
Imagine if the journalist had chosen to use these facts to make the reader feel differently about what occurred. Look at the following headlines and consider the different ways that the story could have been reported if alternative inferences, opinions and emotive words were used.
A cry for help from bored youth
Out-of-towners wreak havoc on Wundowie community
Wundowie police failing to deliver
These headlines hint at alternative ways that this story could have been reported. Now, it's your turn to use inference, opinion and emotive language to write a very different article about the same events in Wundowie. Select one of the headlines above (or make up your own alternative headline) and re-write the news story about Wundowie to reflect the headline.
For this activity you should use the same basic facts but (unlike a real journalist) you can make up your own source/s and quotes to include in the article.
Begin your article with your selected headline.