This is your article on drugs

9 02 2008

ArticlesWhen people write articles for widespread publications, I like for the authors to draw clear lines between objectivity and subjectivity. Otherwise, it can be really hard to tell what the point or motive of the entire article is, like in this one about Barack Obama and drug use.

The article offers insights into Barack Obama’s college days and focuses on drug use presumably because of its headline value.  While the article seems particularly objective, offering information directly from Barack’s autobiographical works and comments by college friends of his, by the end of it, I wondered why I had read an entire article to learn absolutely nothing.  The entire articles uses the following format: paragraph about Barack and claimed usage of drugs, paragraph about Barack’s friends and their lack of knowledge of drug usage, paragraph about random, unrelated activities Barack participated in during college, repeat.  This pattern is followed to the very end, which ends with someone quoted as saying, “I would never say that he was a druggie.”

In the end, we assume that Barack’s statements are true as well as those made by his friends.  If they are true, then the article appears to be worthlessly objective.  The author offers no conclusions or analysis, instead choosing to simply end the article.  I feel it’s fairly obvious that, if Barack used drugs in college, not everyone would have complete knowledge of it.  That point is clearly illustrated here, but that seems to be the only point.  I’m fairly the headline of the article tells the entire story of the article much more succinctly and effectively.

If the article has some other motive, perhaps to hurt Barack’s image if only by using a title that misleadingly accuses Obama of being a liar, then suddenly the point is something completely different.  The article is still a worthless read, but because it is fairly well-written and lengthy, it can be published in a newspaper such as the New York Times.  In essence, it successfully hurts Barack’s image without appearing as if it is, which seems to be the cruel path some journalists are taking nowadays.

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