The editorial under consideration, entitled “Haiti” deals with the earthquake in Haiti and the actions taken and to be taken in order to help Haiti to overcome this tragedy. The editorial highlights the steps made by the United States Government and other American organizations to help Haitians to surmount the aftermath of the earthquake in a comprehensive and very emotional language, providing quite complete information on the topic. Due to its emotional character the editorial is very effective and achieves its main purpose to exhort the community to participate in this process, and to stress the gravity of situation in the region.
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The author provides comprehensive information referring to competent sources, which makes his facts presentation convincing.
The editorial under consideration is organized very logically, providing the classic structure when “statement of circumstances” is “followed by evidence and then conclusion” (Ward 72). Thus, the author makes readers aware of the earthquake and its gravity, and after that he starts providing information on the assistance of the United States. This information is comprehensive since the author mentions definite and even very powerful people: President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton, who, in author’s opinion, can make a lot to assist Haitians.
The editorial highlights some of the governmental programs implemented by the people mentioned above. And all this makes the reader understand that the author possesses exhaustive information so he is quite competent to express his opinion and, which is more interesting; the author’s opinion is valid and can be taken into consideration. Even more: this can make the readers feel that “decision they would derive themselves, if given the opportunity and time” to “carefully weigh all information available” will be the same with that of the author (Meltzer 89-90).
The author uses numerous linguistic means of persuasion in the editorial.
And the editorial is full of the author’s opinions and conclusions, especially if we take into account Ward’s statement that “written word” is “inseparable from opinion and persuasion” (Ward 25). For instance, the author points out Bill Clinton’s values and calls him “so gifted and trouble-prone”, which depicts the authors positive attitude towards this person. It is necessary to point out that “the main purpose of editorials” is to participate in “the moulding of public opinion on current affairs”, and, thus, the authors “need linguistic means to serve the factual evidence in as convincing a way as possible” (Westin 101).
As far as the actions implemented by the government are concerned, the author insists that “administration must make sure” that its steps will be successful. The author uses modal verb “must” to reveal own opinion on what is to be done, and this opinion is enhanced with the emphatic statements, such as “confusion and chaos” may come into place if they fail to undertake “rational and effective campaign”. The editorial represents the author’s point of view – “first to rescue, then to rebuild”. And such pieces of advice are not rare, which can be illustrated by the number of modal verbs. For instance, “should” is used three times, “must” is also used three times, and the verb “need” is used 6 times.
At this point I’d like to mention that modals serve “as overt markers of persuasion” (Westin 111). It is necessary to pay attention to the numerous use of the verb “need”. It is the word which expresses the author’s opinion on the situation in Haiti, with the help of this word repetition through the entire editorial the author tries to persuade the reader that the situation is really severe and “needs” assistance of the whole American society. And, actually, the author succeeds, because after the reading two thoughts stay in mind: catastrophe in Haiti, Haitians need our help.
The author uses very emotional words.
Of course, not only the significant amount of facts makes these thoughts emerge in the readers minds. The emotional impact of this editorial is the main reason for that. As mentioned above the editorial is highly emotional. The author uses such words and expressions as: “the world weeps”, “survivors’ agonizing accounts”, “relentless poverty”, “tragic”, “catastrophe, “disaster” and others. Such chose of words is not sudden, of course, with the help of words mentioned above the author created the atmosphere of catastrophe and made the reader feel the gravity of those events.
The author uses numerous linguistic structures which contribute to the editorial’s expressiveness.
Apart from emotional words the author uses, so to say, emotional sentence structures: the earthquake “did damage” or “had we all not seen”. The use of imperative mood also contributes into evoking the readers’ emotions, for the author makes the readers draw their attention and make deeper sight into the Haitians despair, and even more, the author already brings the results of this observation: “Look at Haiti and you will see…” By means of the methods mentioned above the author, first of all, expresses his opinion about the earthquake and make the readers share this opinion. The editorial reveals catastrophic situation in Haiti with no homes, no food, and no enough medical assistance.
The author appeals to outer linguistic knowledge of readers (news on TV, photos).
The author also appeals to the different sources of information concerning the catastrophe: “photos”, “videos”. So in this manner the author makes the readers’ recollect those articles, news, etc., which described the whole situations with horrible visions of the disaster. So the author connects the pictures the readers already might see, with the opinion of the editorial, which will become the readers own opinion. And the reader is persuaded to assist those people by presenting inspiring initiatives of the government and other organizations. The author also stipulates that “the United States has a special responsibility” to provide assistance to “its neighbor”. So the readers are already convinced in that and are ready to donate, or exhort others to help, or, at least, to make one’s own opinion which coincides with the author’s opinion.
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The editorial is counted on the whole society.
Another very important thing to be considered is the audience which the author wants to affect by the editorial. And here the audience is very wide, the author appeals to different people and organizations: “private citizens” and “charitable organizations”. But, of course, the main target group is “private citizens”. Moreover, the author directly points out the ways how American people can help, mentioning “charitable organizations” and “humanitarian aid”. And this conclusion is not only based on the hints in the editorial. The whole language of the editorial is simple and understandable by everyone, without using some specific terminology.
And the main goal of the editorial is to reach people’s hearts and exhort them to assist Haitians. And the end of the editorial is very remarkable since here the author expresses his opinion about the necessity to help Haitians not only with surmounting of the earthquake aftermaths, but also to assist in the building of a strong state which will not face such grave problems in future. And this opinion is expressed by means of the imperative mood and quite emotional words: “generations of misrule”, “political strife”, “suffering forever”, “Haitians do not need condolences”, “the ability to help themselves”.
The main idea of necessity to provide assistance to Haitians is transparently revealed with the help of different linguistic and non-linguistic means.
And, finally, it is necessary to consider the purpose of the editorial which lies on the surface. The author expresses his opinion of necessity to assist Haiti. This is the main idea and the theme of the editorial under consideration. This statement can be proved, first of all, by the numerous uses of the corresponding words. Thus the word help is used 5 times, the word aid 3 times, the assistance was also used once, and it is necessary to add that the word commitment (which reveals the idea of assistance here) was used twice.
Another way to persuade the readers in the necessity of assistance used in the editorial is highly emotional depiction of the catastrophe aftermaths. The examples of the emotional words and structures used in the editorial are mentioned above. And, of course, the author uses the examples of governmental aid, which is to make the reader think, that American government does a lot for saving and assisting Haitians, different organizations also participate, and even private citizens can help, so why not to help as well.
The main purpose of editorials to persuade is achieved due to the emotional character and comprehensive information provided in the editorial under consideration.
Moreover, being editorial it reveals the authors opinion which also affects the readers. The author expresses his ideas strictly and very personally, which makes them sound more akin with the readers’ own ideas. So the purpose of the editorial is achieved, and the author reaches all his aims: to express his views on the necessity to help and to show the ways in which this help can be provided. Thus, it is possible to conclude that the editorial under consideration achieves its purpose due to the use of such means as: logic structure, comprehensive information, use of modals and imperative mood, emotional language. It is also necessary to add that the editorial under consideration can be considered as a successful one, since it reveals the authors opinion transparently and it also likely to make the readers share this opinion.
Meltzer, K. “Newspaper Editorial Boards And The Practice Of Endorsing Candidates For Political Office In The United States.” Journalism 8 (2007): 83-103.
“Haiti.” New York Times 2010: A36.
Ward, B.G. The Student Journalist And Writing Editorials. New York: Richards Rosen Press, 1969.
Westin, I. Language Change In English Newspaper Editorials. New York: Rodopi, 2002.