Monday, September 13, 2010

Edited for Space

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army

This past Sunday (9/12/2010), the Denver Post printed a story on page 3A that told of an event in Anchorage Alaska. The story is interesting because the printed version is quite different from the version shown on the paper’s Web site. Here’s a taste of the printed version (first seven paragraphs)…
Beck, Palin draw crowds
Some paid to see the Tea Party favorites as others protested in Anchorage
          By Rachel D’Oro
The Associated Press

Anchorage, Alaska
An event featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative commentator Glenn Beck on Saturday night brought out two very different crowds.

Thousands of fans who paid $73.75 to $225 for tickets gathered inside the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center to see Beck introduced by Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and a potential 2012 presidential candidate. The two are Tea Party favorites.

Outside the downtown center, about 60 protesters waved signs and denounced Palin and Beck as intolerant fearmongers spreading divisiveness across the country.

"We feel that they are inciting racism in what they do and what they say and how they go about it," said Lynette Moreno-Hinz, an Alaska Native who helped organize the protest.

Holding a sign that said "Freedom isn't just for zealots," Brian MacMillan of Anchorage wondered where all the passion from the right was during George W. Bush's presidency, when the U.S. economy began its downward slide.

MacMillan also urged Palin and Beck supporters to ease up on President Barack Obama.

"Give the man in charge his due," he said. "He's doing the best he can."
Contrast this with the online version of the AP story. Here are the first few paragraphs…
Beck, Palin draw divergent crowds at Alaska event
Some paid to see the Tea Party favorites as others protested in Anchorage.

By Rachel D'oro
The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin introduced Glenn Beck at an event in her home state Saturday night, telling several thousand roaring fans that the conservative commentator has inspired millions.

Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, told Beck that he represents why so many citizens never have to apologize for being American. She criticized the mainstream media, then asked "what would we do without Fox News?"

Palin and Beck, a popular Fox News Channel personality, took turns recalling what they were doing when they heard of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Palin, who was mayor of Wasilla at the time, said she got a call from the town's police chief about the attacks, then turned on her television.

"It looked unreal that this was happening to our country," she said.

She said she shut down city hall, then went over to her church to pray for the country.

Beck said he was getting ready for work when he learned of what had happened in New York and at the Pentagon.

"Here we are so many years later, and I fear we are forgetting," he said.
In the printed version, we are told that about 4,000 tickets were sold for the event and that Mr. Beck was donating his speaking fee to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The online version has the additional quotes cited above, and increases the count of protestors from 60 to 100.

Other than these substantive changes, there is a definitive style difference between the two stories. It’s as if the text of the online version was selectively extracted to create the distinctive tone of the printed version.

The printed version lets us know that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin were featured at an event in Alaska (paragraphs one and two) but then focuses on the protestors. We are told of the strong feelings of the protestors, and their passionate belief that Republicans are:

--Promoting freedom just for themselves
--Being intolerant fear mongers
--Spreading divisiveness across the country
--Inciting racism
--Being intolerant of President Obama
--Failing to blame President Bush for starting the current economic crisis.

Why the difference in tone between the two pieces? It could be an example of newspaper editing at its finest; an attempt to convey the AP writer’s actual intent.

Then again, it might be an example of the finer points of our anti-Republican culture. Here’s what I’m getting at:

Anti-Republican Culture organizes its posts into four classifications, depending on the situation being covered…

The Themes – Any of the six themes of the Democratic Party

The Ministry of Truth – Stressing anti-Republican perceptions

“So Right and Natural” – Outrageous anti-Republican behavior portrayed as being normal

Republicans Under Siege – News stories of Republicans being assaulted, jeered, or censured.

The printed version of the Denver Post hits all four of the categories. The protestors emphasize the theme that Republicans are bad people and must be fought with vigorous counter-demonstrations. What is “right and natural” is that concerned Americans (the protestors) are expressing their distinctive moral authority and exercising their First Amendment rights. The Ministry of Truth comes into play when the story devolves into another opportunity to point out the failings of Republicans.

Newspaper editors have the power to shape a story to fit their style and narrative. I think the story on page 3A is a good example of the weekend editors of the Denver Post doing their part to quietly foster anti-Republican culture in our Rocky Mountain region.

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