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Sweet Briar Marketing Commentary

14 Apr
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Blog Post #1, What are a journalist’s limitations as an author?

8 Mar

http://wonderwall.msn.com/movies/just-wondering-are-ashton-and-demis-charity-handcuff-necklaces-in-bad-taste-1605557.story?gt1=28135

This is a soft-news story, but I think it’s valuable to our class discussion. This Wonderwall post from MSN.com is written in an editorial style, common for gossip columns and celebrity news. However, it’s an example of how one journalist’s opinion tries to speak for “most people,” and earn readers who are attracted to it because they either agree or disagree. That kind of conflict arises in completely non-biased journalism too, but the hot topic of this blurb and the opinionated ending make it a well publicized issue.

In this story, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are being criticized for donating a piece of jewelry from their designer collections to their own charity to be auctioned off for proceeds. These particular proceeds will be going to an effort to abolish child-sex trafficking. The piece of jewelry being auctioned? A gold necklace, with a pair of interlocking handcuffs as the pendant. Not the most (insert antonym for “tacky” here) choice.

The article quotes: “Would someone sell gold and diamond-studded baseball bats to raise awareness for domestic abuse? Or jewel-encrusted syringes to raise money for anti-drug awareness? It just doesn’t make sense. No offense to Mrs. Kutcher, but did she happen to ask any victims of child sex trafficking what handcuffs mean to them? I think it’s safe to assume that their first response would not be “freedom.”

Demi responded to the press saying that they chose handcuffs to EMPHASIZE the importance of freedom, and also the bond of love. Clever, but really?

The overall importance of this article was the questions that it raised for me. When can a journalist, not just a soft news writer, pose questions to the audience, for effect or for thought? Also, when can a writer speak for themselves and “many,” and what are those effects? Is using questions a journalistic device, or the sign of the writer themselves in their purest forms as writers of truth, shining through to reach people’s thoughts?