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Critiquing Editorials in The Olympian and Tribune Papers Coursework

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Updated: Jun 9th, 2022

While these two papers try to report responsibly, there can be no doubt from the editorials that both papers are strongly Democratic when politics are concerned, and they are strong supporters of Barack Obama. The editorial in The Olympian even says this in the headline of the editorial for October 19, 2008: Obama is the best agent of change (2008). By contrast, the Tribune is more subtle, or at least less blatant with one article about a new proposed change Bush wants to get in before he leaves office: Bush administration bent on getting last licks in (2008) and an article about Sarah Palen’s wardrobe paid for by the campaign: Palin: Just dressing up for the Lower 48 (2008), both published on October 24th. Even the content in the Tribune articles was more “soft-pedaled” than the obviously biased opinion of the Olympian. Now, I actually have nothing against biased editorials, since they are supposed to be opinions, but they should get their facts right, and these two papers have not been as careful as I would like. Even editorials should not leave out information that substantially changes the content.

First, let us look at the very pro-Obama editorial in the Olympian on October 19th. It is fairly well written and very persuasive, which is surely its intention. However, for every positive comment for Obama, there are 2 negative comments about McCain for every positive comment on Obama. In addition to this kind of slanting, a positively racist phrase is paraphrased throughout the editorial: Malcolm Xs “Burn, Baby, Burn. That is stopping to every level the editor accuses McCain of doing, which is adding wrong to a wrong, and that does not make a right.

There is an inaccuracy concerning Sarah Palen being shy of the media. She is anything but shy. Perhaps the campaign made her hide after she put her foot in the Republican mouth a few times. It is true that she is less articulate than Joe Biden, but she is not totally without talent. However, she is from Alaska, and the not always friendly competition between Washington State and Alaska is a historical fact, so it would be expected that Washington editors would not favor her.

My last criticism of this editorial is that there are no links to stories about the various issues and events etc. mentioned in the editorial. Are the editors afraid of confusing the readers with too much information? Surely they do not think their readership is that stupid. The sources are not mentioned or referenced, as is common for editorials. However, links to the news stories about the many points made here would actually improve this editorial’s chances of making a real impact. The editorial is successful in its bid to support Obama and it is very persuasive. It is too bad that there are some flaws that possibly do more harm than good. I would answer them: Sing, Baby, sing, but please stay on key and don’t change the lyrics.

The two political editorials in the Tribune on October 25th (2008) are much more subtle and less blatantly biased. It is obvious to the reader that the paper support Obama and, probably leans heavily Democratic. However, the articles are not so harsh as the Olympian’s.

The article about Palen is almost funny and nearly truthful. It talks about the amount spent on Palen’s wardrobe, and it is really easy to discern the writer’s dislike for the Alaskan native. He makes fun of her possibly wearing mukluks and moose hides. (Alaskans only wear moose hides when they are in the bush, and mukluks are actually quite practical and pretty.) However, regional differences aside, the article did say that it could have been more money spent on her wardrobe and that the plan was to donate the wardrobe to charity. However, the author also left out that the clothing included the entire family, according to Macneil-Lehrer Newshouron the local PBS channel, and he hinted that Sarah might not donate the clothes after all, which is hinting that she would cheat (not surprising to me, but there was no support for this attitude.)

The second article about Bush making changes to the Endangered Species Act was stronger and was truthful. It cited the Associated Press as the source, but no specifics were given. The statistics could be found on the US statistics site, but the actual contents of the bill are, as yet, unpublished. This editorial fell short of its supposed aims since it provided no suggestions for action on the part of readers. To my mind, the following quote was the strongest part of the editorial, but it could have done much more to rouse the public to action.

“Democrat Barack Obama is opposed to the rewrite of the endangered species law; Republican John McCain has not taken a position. McCain has said in the past that he is in favor of unspecified changes to the ESA.” (The News Tribune 2008)

This shows the definite bias for Obama. However, while it promoted the Democratic campaign, it fell short of any positive action to prevent the passing of this measure by only mentioning that it would be more difficult for a subsequent president to remove the new rules than it is to prevent them. So what should people do? The article does not say.

The third short article in the News Tribune concerned the passing era of easy credit and how the banks should shoulder the pain, not the credit-worthy public. While I agree with this editorial in principle, it falls down on real meat in the article. It makes one strong statement about what this does to responsible card-holders: “Cardholders who never carry a balance are getting notices that they better ring up some charges or risk a closed account.” The few paragraphs following this statement do make some good suggestions. However, even though it ends upon the note that the banks are actually responsible for the problems by being more greedy than prudent, it does not support this very well. A note about what actually happened in the mortgage industry plus a link to supporting stories would help a lot. One example would be to mention that home loans were made to people with no job, no income and no assets, just on the basis of rising home values (Hardball with Chris Mathews 2008). That should be called what it is: speculation. The other thing wrong with this editorial is that it is inaccurate. Thousands of calls daily are made to offer credit to consumers, lower interest balance transfers and cards with annual fees that amount to 15% of the approved balance. This amount is paid even if the card is never used. In discussing this issue with friends and colleagues, all of them mentioned that the frequency of cold calls offering credit cards has increased over the past few weeks.

So I think we need to remember that editorials are a little better than personal blogs. There is no requirement for accuracy or objectivity. They can be good, and many in these two papers are, but they are always biased. That is okay since it is the nature of an editorial to be so. However, inflammation may not be always appropriate.


Obama is the best agent of change. The Olympian. Web.

Creditworthy shouldn’t pay for ills of easy credit, THE NEWS TRIBUNE. Web.

Bush administration bent on getting last licks in, THE NEWS TRIBUNE. Web.

Palin: Just dressing up for the Lower 48, THE NEWS TRIBUNE. Web.

Hardball with Chris Mathews, 2008. MSNBC.

MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour, 2008. KSPS-TV, Spokane, Wa.

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