Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Media Studies 101: How to Read Headlines

OK, class, here's your task for today. Compare and critique these two headlines for the same story:

1) "Abortion laws threaten Catholic hospitals" (The Australian)

2) "Archbishop in abortion law threat" (The Age)

Questions:

1) Who or what is "under threat"?
2) Who or what is doing the "threatening"?

Essays to be less than 100 words and submitted in the combox, please.

6 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 2:48:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Les than 100 words?

Oz basically correct, except laws in question are proposed or draft, rather than your actual laws. But it’s a headline. Something’s gotta give.

Age vague. “Archbishop in threat” suggests, without asserting, that archbishop is threatening.

Not quite right, to my mind. But true to say that archbishop, not parliament or state government, will have to decide whether ethical hospital practice possible if proposed laws enacted. In that contrived sense, archbishop can be said to be “in threat”; hospital maternity/gynaecology departments will not close unless he takes a particular view of matters.

 
At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 2:51:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

7/10, Perry.

I think that by "Archbishop in abortion law threat" The Age intends us to understand that it the Archbishop who is threatening the Abortion Law Reform Bill.

Next.

 
At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 3:00:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

Answer: the Catholic Church's entire social welfare arm is under threat from a hostile worldview that pretends to be neutral (even to itself) but in reality wants to impose a whole philosophy of life using the power of the state.

What we are seeing here is is strategy already well-developed in the UK and some US states like Massachusetts. Catholic agencies are forced to adopt unChristian practices through pretexts like 'non-discrimination', in the knowledge that this will either force the Church out of service provision or force the Church into a compromise that will undermine its witness. The ideologues are happy with either outcome.

Of course, this is just the beginning. Just look at the kind of people we're up against.

 
At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 3:28:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Hi David

That’s not how I read it. Remember the story is written first, and the headline is some subeditor’s attempt, however hamfisted, to encapsulate Barney Zwartz’s story. And the meat of the story is in the first paragraph; “Catholic hospitals might close their maternity and emergency departments . . . Denish Hart has warned”. And then we have the sub-header: “Abortion law poses ‘real threat’”, and the more extensive quote from Hart, “this poses a real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals” . There’s a very specific threat named there, and it’s the focus of the story.

By contrast, at no point in the story are Hart’s words or actions said to “threaten” either the bill, or the legislators, and the gist of the story is not about the prospects that his efforts will actually derail the bill, which I think would be needed if the story was about a “threat” to the bill.

As I read it, the “threat” in the headline is the threat that hospital departments will close.

 
At Tuesday, September 23, 2008 8:45:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Athanasius is right: the Catholic Church's entire social welfare arm is under threat from a hostile worldview that pretends to be neutral (even to itself) but in reality wants to impose a whole philosophy of life using the power of the state.

So, the threats are two-fold in the story.

1. Caesar is threatening Victorian Catholics with laws which, if enacted, will mean that Catholic medical staff are unable, by law, to conscientiously object to the practice of abortion.

2. +Hart is therefore, quite rightly, threatening Caesar that if the laws are passed, the Church may have to quit propping up the State through its social services.

 
At Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:05:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

The sort of people we're up against, Athanasius? Check this one out:

http://www.firstthings.com/blog/2008/09/19/when-not-aborting-is-immoral/

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home