Declan Brennan ’12 –
We have spent the first couple weeks of this winter term elective looking at the effects that the media has on our society. We have read a few excerpts of articles from one of our class books, The Elements of Journalism, and have observed the different angles and techniques that authors use to enhance their reports. As we read, we learned how to contrast fact-based objective writing and opinion-based subjective writing, and how to observe bias in editorials. We have begun to see the effects that bias has on readers in pro and con articles involving politics, one instance being where we compared Walter Lippmann and Thomas E Dewey’s conflicting stances on democracy. We also spent a significant amount of time learning about the three styles of lede – summary, emblem, and narrative – and of their different uses in drawing readers into their respective stories. There was also a class period spent watching The Fog of War, a documentary featuring Robert McNamara on the events in Vietnam. We used this documentary, along with various other works, to observe how the truth is often distorted by the media and of how prevalent bias is in the news.
We have also spent time learning about the isolation from the media experienced by students here at Pomfret. It was appalling to many of us (and to me particularly) how unknowledgeable we are towards current events and, more importantly, politics. That is a considerable problem, especially since many of us will be voting in the upcoming 2012 election and are so unprepared. This is the focus of our first major assignment, an editorial on current events awareness within the Pomfret community, which will require student interviews and our own unique angles of writing on the issue.