Home > final paper > The Boston Phoenix vs. The New York Times Draft 2

The Boston Phoenix vs. The New York Times Draft 2

  In comparing the online articles addressing Obama’s 2011 State of the Union, I found that between the New York Times and the Boston Phoenix, the New York Times article was much more convincing (and objective).  The NYT released their article on January 26, just one day after the speech.  The Boston Phoenix on the other hand released their article two days after Obama’s speech on the January 27.


            The New York Times is publicly traded in the New York Stock Exchange and also owns the International Herald Tribune.  The Boston Phoenix, on the other hand, is a privately owned alternative media and communications group.  They specifically reach out and claim to “own” people between the ages of 18 and 44. 

            The New York Times was all started by a sequence of accidents.   Henry J. Raymond and George Jones partnered up to create the newspaper in 1851.  Jones essentially sold his own company (The Tribune).  One day while Jones and Raymond were walking and Jones brought up the fact that The Tribune made a profit of over $60,000 (“a killing” back in those days).  This sparked Raymond’s interest and the two started The Times.  This eventually evolved into what we know now as The New York Times. Its main headquarters are currently located in New York City.

            The Boston Phoenix dates back to l966 where it began as an arts and entertainment alternative media source.  It has now grown into one of the largest alternative media sources of its kind.  Its main headquarters are currently located in Boston.

            Going back to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union, the Boston Phoenix seemed to provide more of a conservative slant (more criticizing of his speech). 

The obvious thing for the president to do, with unemployment in some states well over 10 percent, would be to demonstrate the degree to which he feels the nation’s pain, and to produce a laundry list of measures to show how hard he’s trying to make things better. But Obama did very little of either Tuesday night; there was no call for a second stimulus package, let alone any ambitious, New Deal–style public-works program.

This is a direct quote from the article in the Boston Phoenix that I read.  This portrays quite the bias, and bias without attribution at that.  The Phoenix also refers to how Obama says that we need to focus on the future rather than the present (the troubles of debt, etc.).  This provides a neutral standpoint on how the Phoenix feels about that part of the speech.  They didn’t come right out and say, “Why is he worrying about tomorrow when we need to fix today?” or something along those lines. 

Rather than focusing on the woes of now, Obama challenged us to improve tomorrow, quoting Robert Kennedy: “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.”      

The Phoenix is a very good source for those in New England, but does not give the full image.  Instead of providing both the Democrat and Republican side, the Phoenix focuses more on the Republican point of view.  It is okay to critique a piece, but so long as you have attribution and attempt to get both sides of the story.  The Phoenix’s framing is focused mainly from the Republican side and not so much the Democrat.  I expected this article to provide sufficient information from both parties (relatively equally).

            The New York Times on the other hand did not critique nor applaud Obama’s State of the Union, but rather talk about what he did.  The Times begins its article talking about how Obama plans to conserve energy in the future, and in the process create new jobs by doing so.  The Times framed its piece from a neutral standpoint.  They provided each sides perspective on how Obama did with his speech and attributed everything.  The Phoenix did few attributions on their opinion pieces.

In his address, Mr. Obama said that government can create jobs in the future by encouraging innovation, in particular by shifting its focus to clean energy development.

Unlike the Phoenix, the Times give you a sense of what the State of the Union talked about specifically (rather than just saying that Obama talked about the future).  To remain objective, the Times also added in some viewpoints from both parties.

“I just thought the president was flat,” Pat Buchanan, the Republican commentator, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Wednesday. “I was just expecting more inspirational.”

The Phoenix did attempt to do so, but failed to produce any quotes supporting Obama (and any quotes period).  I expected the Phoenix to say something along the lines of “Obama said…” and then have a politician analyze what he said.  This would provide that neutral frame that most journalists try to achieve.  The Times ends the article about how Obama and the Republicans will still be clashing about how to ultimately solve this debt, and doesn’t give any views as to who is right, and will win.

            The New York Times has proven over the years that they are a reliable and objective source.  They continuously are on the scenes of whatever is being reported and interviewing those involved (as shown above).  The Times is very good at reporting hard news and getting the point across to a variety of audiences.  Where some may have not understood what President Obama said, they clarify with this statement.

But some Democrats expressed frustration with the amount of pro-business rhetoric in the speech.

They get the general idea of what Obama was talking about in his speech, if they happened to have missed it earlier.

            The Boston Phoenix seems to be more of an opinionated writing style; one that objectivity isn’t the main purpose (so long as the writer puts down the main point).  This is proven in the above quotes where they directly criticize President Obama for not talking about the “now,” instead of the future (as he did with his State of the Union).  However, the Phoenix does remain to be a reliable news source, because even though it’s slightly opinionated you can still easily separate the opinion from the facts (and thus pick up what the article’s main points are).  For example, let’s look back to where the writer criticizes Obama for not talking about how we must fix the present.  The reader can still get the idea that the President talked about how tomorrow was going to be and not so much the present.

            Although the Huffington Post’s story on Obama’s State of the Union (published on February 1) is very biased and criticizes the entire speech (more-so than the Phoenix does), this site can confirm the fact that Obama did talk about the future that Obama has planned about going green.

The story states that Obama plans to “…concentrate instead on the professional jobs of the future and the ‘green collar economy’”.  Essentially this site and the Phoenix are not pleased with what Obama has done so far in office, and the Times doesn’t show an opinion in their story.  The Phoenix shows that they are not happy with Obama by stating that the obvious thing he should do is exactly what he didn’t do.  By stating that (and not providing attribution) they are showing that they are not happy with what he’s done in office; because if someone doesn’t do what they “obviously” should, then people will not be happy with him/her.

            The Phoenix’s website does not provide a news article regarding previous State of the Union speeches, but it does provide a “Phlog” (the Phoenix blog) regarding President Obama’s State of the Union last year.  This “Phlog” was about as objective as you can be regarding people’s views on how the speech went.  There are people who though that it was a very good address, and others that thought Obama still had no idea what politics were.

            The New York Times provided only one article after the 2010 State of the Union speech by Obama – at least on the website.  This did not focus on the speech at all, but more on the audience size.  The article talks about how Obama drew in the third largest audience for his first State of the Union, finishing just behind President Bush’s following the September 11 attacks and in 2003 (regarding the placement of troops in Iraq).

            The New York Times ultimately provides more detailed and well attributed information regarding Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Speech.  In one part of the Phoenix they proceed to say, “The obvious thing for the president to do…But Obama did very little of either…” and fail to attribute any source saying that.  This is a clear frame towards the Republican aspect and provides the reader with only that point of view.  The Times takes the neutral frame by having the writer insert no opinion into their piece.  Whatever is potentially opinionated in the writer’s story is attributed to somebody else saying it.  They also remain neutral by placing in about the same number of quotes from each party; instead of getting just one side of the story.

            Chapter four in the Converging Media talks about how most major news corporations don’t even distribute their media via newspaper.  They are either digitalizing their print or doing news broadcasts via radio or television. The Boston Phoenix and the New York Times have each evolved with the changing times by adapting to digitalization of their articles, but still maintain the paper form.  “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” a famous quote by Mark Twain used in the book referring to the newspaper’s “life.”  The key word used is exaggeration, newspapers will not be going anywhere soon but the market for them will not be as large as it once was with the rise of digitalization.

            The New York Times and Boston Phoenix are each very reliable sources to receive updates in the world.  The New York Times may be ultimately more objective and detailed; however, both news sources provide enough information to keep the reader informed.  Each of these sources also each started out in print, but have learned to adapt with the changing times and new technology by creating their own websites.  In the end, I feel that the New York Times is more convincing overall regarding news stories.

Categories: final paper
  1. alex7283
    February 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Great article, it seems like you covered pretty much all you needed to cover about both news sources. The only thing I would say (I don’t know if I skipped it or not), is provide more example of what the New York Times article had or said that the Boston Phoenix’s article did not. Also, provide a picture link somewhere in the article and place a read more link in the blog.

  2. Terry
    February 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Good start. There are some minor issues like typos and some proofreading is needed,but otherwise it was a good first draft.

  3. alextarnoczi09
    February 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Did a great job in portaging your news storys. I like how you really compared the differences in each news article I was able to see that with clear supporting details which really made your paper flow and easy to follow it really followed the outline almost to a tea. The only critique I would say is to highlight how each article is legitimized. I feel that you still did a good job with this but you could go a little more in detail.

  4. February 28, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Good start on your analysis. I like your inclusion of the quotes in your entry. However, it would be good to include the links there are well.

    Rather than identifying certain aspects as “biased,” I want to know how the story is framed so that you as the reader are meant to find support for your assumptions. This is what’s involved in framing. What do you mean when you say it “doesn’t give the full image”? Tell us what’s missing that you might have expected.

    It sounds like the NYTimes had a frame of “we are objective because we will cite both what Republicans and Democrats said about Obama’s speech.” What was it in the Phoenix’s story that leads you to conclude that they’re “not happy” with Obama’s time in office?

    I didn’t know which articles specifically you were looking at because I didn’t see the citations embedded. Also don’t forget to include a photo.

  5. March 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Great job with the revisions!

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