Friday, December 7, 2012

Holy Fox News! The plain truth behind the Fox News agenda

Today’s world has become very sensitive to political and religious groups in the spotlight within the academic setting. One example of this is the LSU “Painted Posse,” a group of Christian LSU students who paint their bodies in school colors and the symbol of the cross for home game events. In order to avoid any conflict with other students, the university administration photoshopped the crosses off each member’s shoulder before sending out a newsletter the photo was on. Though only one member of the group was offended by this act, this news article was featured on Fox News main web page, with the headline “Holy Photoshop! LSU erased Christian football fans’ crosses,” with a large, eye-catching image that first shows their chests with the cross, and then, when you press an arrow to the right, transitions to the photoshopped version (both photos shown below).


Fox News is known as a more conservative news outlet. By taking a more conservative stance on many issues, Fox News attracts a large crowd of Christian and other religious groups that resonate with similar political beliefs. Fox News knows who their readers are and, as a result, are able to publish stories with a greater religious context because it is important to their readers. Their audience is also more sensitive to issues like religious freedom, making this article a fitting addition to their website.

The author of the article is clearly targeting a Christian based readership. With the obvious reference to the “Painted Posse’s” Christian beliefs and specific removal of the cross from their chest, the author sets the university administration’s opposition to religious connotations within their university setting as the main conflict. The author states that the photo of the Posse was “otherwise untouched,” which emphasizes that the photo was not otherwise altered and that the crosses were targeted specifically. The author also makes it clear that this cross represents the Christian religion and is not just a generic symbol by quoting Posse member Cameron Cooke saying “The cross painting is important to me because it represents who I am as a Christ follower.” By doing so, he creates a clear “victim” and makes one group in particular, Christians, feel attacked or acted against.

The main argument between both activity systems (the LSU “Painted Posse” and LSU Administration) is the role the symbol of the cross plays in school spirit. With the use of clear, active language, the journalist portrays this point by minimal use of jargon or technical terms related to the academic world. Because of the increase in number of people receiving a college degree, many people have a general understanding of the university system. As Americans, a majority of people also understand a person’s right to free speech and religion. With the understanding of this right, audience members see the conflict the writer is trying to portray. Though I think the contents of this article are important, the real argument is being fought by the writer and not the “Painted Posse”--as only one member of that group was actually upset the crosses were removed, leaving me to question the reasoning behind making this story such a pointed part of Fox News’ main headlines.
When the writer uses direct quotes from both LSU Administration and members of the “Painted Posse,” the aim is to simply report the facts and not try to summarize them on their behalf. By directly quoting, confusion is offset and the tone of the article is very conversational. Fox News’ readers should feel fairly confident they are receiving the full story--as they already choose to go to this site for information. The journalist also uses common language that is accessible for a wide range of readers, which is confirmed because of the high reading ease, which is 69.5. The average readability score is 8.1 -- a score that shows nearly any person with an education of eighth grade or above would be perfectly capable of reading and understanding this article.

The language chosen by the author also adds emphasis to the issue discussed in the article. For example, when the author writes “A group of Louisiana State University football fans whose admiration for the Tigers is second only to their love for Jesus is outraged,” they are essentially saying that the group as a whole was very upset. The word “outraged” has a connotation attached to it, one that suggests outward displays of anger, which is just not accurate in this context. In the third paragraph of the article, the author quotes a member of the Painted Posse as being “a bit surprised,” which is quite far from being “outraged.” Also, by using the words “Holy Photoshop” in the title of the article, the author gives readers--and those who just browse the title--the sense that the entirety of the photo was altered, not just a small portion of it.

Some of the sentence combining skills used by the author also enhances his message and the ideas he is promoting. By using an appositive in this article, the writer is aiming to be more detailed in a concise way. Because it all comes in one sentence, readers are not interrupted or thrown off by an abrupt end of sentence, but they are given a sentence with good flow that is easily understood. This is not the only time the author uses appositive in their writing, as I think it really does enhance the clarity of the message they are trying to get across. Each additional piece of information inserted into each sentence gives more detail about the specific pieces of information in the sentence. The author could have chosen to write shorter sentences with each piece of information, but by including more information into each sentence, using this sentence combining strategy, the writer creates a more readable sentence.

Though LSU is responsible for removing the crosses, only one member of the “Painted Posse” was actually upset. If I had not read the entire article, I probably would have thought several people were mad and that some type of controversy surrounded this event. By the time I had finished the article I knew that was not the case and was somewhat confused about why this article was featured as headline news. The plain language used by the author of this article shows Fox News’s awareness of their audience and the ideals they feel comfortable pursuing. By using many of these plain writing styles and choosing to write about this topic, Fox News makes their readers feel that this media outlet is relevant and important to their lifestyle. They feel they can trust this source. Though there is wealth to this method, those who have contrasting beliefs will likely grasp the full intent of this article not feel the same.

--Melissa Moss

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