Wednesday, June 15, 2011


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The article entitled “The battle over abstinence” is broken down into three main segments. A provocative title and introductory statement which are intended to catch the reader’s interest and stimulate reading are first. Second, a segment which covers a historical chronology of the issue of sexual abstinence including

• Examples of the government sponsored program being implemented at the classroom/ teacher level

• Alternate views on how the message can be conveyed

• The government’s commitment to the issue of abstinence in both federal funds and policy

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• The complexity of the issue of abstinence in dealing with multiple stakeholders in the issue.

Lastly, the article zooms in on the present and demonstrates a commitment to pursue the policy of teaching abstinence in our schools, but to continue to address the issue in a comprehensive way and determine how to make the program most effective based on the collection of longitudinal data (with particular regard to things such as economic situation, location, age, and media).

One idea of the article is to coincide with the fall school period of the year (1/0/00) when children would have completed their first semester and possibly have had exposure to a program on abstinence.

The message that the article is delivering is that while abstinence is believed to have an effect on “sex before marriage” it falls short of dealing with more complex issues, such as reducing risks when you do have sex and the government policy and model of a mutually faithful monogamous relationship. Abstinence alone may not address areas outside of the mainstream (and acceptable for that matter) such as virgins, gays, single parent children, etc.

The author uses a number of techniques to catch the reader’s interest and stimulate reading. It is a Newsweek cover article with a background picture. “Sex Sells” so the article has the right subject area. The author also uses comments that the reader can review in less than 10 seconds to stimulate readership. The title implies that there is a battle being fought over abstinence. Superficially you may look at this as a yes/no question and be interested in both points of view and their arguments. The introductory heading entitled “The Politics” leads the reader to believe that the government is potentially battling teachers and parents over the issue of abstinence which further stimulates the reader. What does the government really have to do with sex other than the annual “screwing” of the taxpayer with income taxes? As well the article leads off with a provocative first sentence, which is always effective, comparing a role of the dice to sex before marriage. All these statements and supporting pictures are intended to stimulate readership and effectively convey they articles “message”.

I believe the author had a number of objectives in mind when writing the article. The article was a cover story and timing may have been meant to coincide with the completion of the first semester of school when programs on abstinence would have been introduced stimulating discussion of this topic between teachers, parents, and of course students. The article was presented in such a way as to provide a balanced view of the subject with a historical recount, finishing off with a current comment that “the vote is still out” on the subject. This approach would certainly force you to think about the issue more deeply.

Lastly the article gave both teachers and parents an opportunity to discuss or introduce the subject of sexual abstinence to their students/ children and point them in the direction of additional resources or information which may then help make them more aware of the subject as a whole and possibly more able to make informed decisions about sexual abstinence when the time came.

I believe the author’s summary way intended to get the reader to think more about the issue of abstinence; that it is a complex issue and that information on the subject must be modified to reach the children involved and effect a positive change. The summary also provides the reader insight into different approaches in reducing the risks involved with being sexual active before marriage. The article also implies that the subject of sex before marriage will continue to be a major initiative of the government.

If the author does have a bias then based on the two articles one could assume a bias towards topics on sexuality. In the case of the second article the author has taking a pro-abortion stance, whereas there was a relatively neutral approach to the first article. Both articles were written in a parallel style, that is by providing a history on the issue and then bringing you up to speed with present ideas and sub-issues within the issue still existing, by discussing current opinions, mainly of the female population in the U.S.

The author engages the reader in a number of ways in the second article. The author revisits the thoughts of Karen O’Connor; a student of the 160’s when Roe vs. Wade was enacted legalizing abortion and now, the leader of a national pro-abortion group. The author allowed us to “Get into her head” and her thinking on how to keep the issue of abortion rights alive for women today. When it is not seen as an issue driving them to action or having a direct impact on their lifestyle. Also comments from a female student in the present give you the impression that my views could just as easily be hers and this makes the pro-abortion argument easier to accept.

Both articles are relatively balanced and don’t drive the reader to action per say. My comments on this must be modified as I do not have an anti-abortion point of view and am not angered by the article as some might be. I believe in a women’s right to choice on the subject of abortion. Even the author seems to indicate that abortion rights may become more restrictive, but not eliminated altogether. I also believe that I am “pro-author” and can think about the subject upon which the article was written, but there is no real “call to action” in the piece.

In comparing articles one and two, the author has taken the approach that a review of the subject with contrasting view points leading to an uncertain future is stimulating reading. This will possibly force some people to re-examine their opinions and in come cases expand their view on the subject. The author also had the good sense to keep the article to a short length, short enough that the reader does not experience any fatigue or become disinterested. The author didn’t report just the facts, but with a sense of the importance created through comments from those individuals directly involved in the subject. This tends to stimulate thinking on the subject being read.

Having reviewed two articles it is difficult to determine if the author tends to focus on subjects related to human sexuality or was just assigned these subjects by the editor. Although I would tend to think that your editor will assign you pieces based on your textual proficiency in certain areas of reporting. Either way I enjoyed reading the articles and will likely put Newsweek and this writer on my readership list in the future.

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