Tone is defined as the manner of expression in written documents or speech. It includes a general overall quality or atmosphere. Tone is also strongly related to point of view. If a student can identify the document’s tone, he or she may be able to establish what the writer’s or speaker’s view point is. Teaching the words below will help a student see Tone.
POSITIVE TONE/ATTITUDE WORDS
NEGATIVE TONE/ATTITUDE WORDS
NEUTRAL TONE/ATTITUDE WORDS
MATTER OF FACT
OTHER /ATTITUDE WORDS
ASSERTIVE PHILOSOPHICAL DEFERENTIAL
Name: ___________________________________ Period: __________ Date: _____________
HOW TO ANALYZE VARIOUS MEDIA
The task all historians perform and the one which students must address is the determination of the validity and accuracy of sources. Not all sources are equal or of equal value. Students who accept sources’ opinions as valid or facts make a mistake. Some types of documents are more valid and accurate; others more biased. Using examples obtained from Internet sources listed in the Appendix, or using examples from your text, read the passages below and analyze the respective type of media.
PART A: VISUAL MEDIA
Visuals are often difficult to interpret and to use. Although pictures are worth a thousand words, you do not have written words to interpret. Look for visual clues. Do an OPTIC.
Pictures, paintings, and photographs will depict a subject. You must decide what is depicted. How does it reflect time and place? Does it convey a point of view or perspective? What is the emotional impact (tone) of the work? Is the artist attempting to convey a special message? What is its title? This may be revealing.
Cartoons are satirical. Who are the characters in the cartoon? What are they doing? Are the characters realistic or exaggerated? If so, why? What are their expressions? What symbols are present? What is the overall impression of the cartoon? What is the title or caption? Who is the intended audience?
Posters are often political or artistic, or both. Who published it? For what reasons? What is the purpose? Is there any bias or specific perspective? What is the title or caption? And who is the intended audience?
PART B: MAPS, DATA, CHARTS, AND GRAPHS
Data, Charts, graphs, and maps represent factual information in a graphic form. While data is rarely biased, the decisions based on them are. Look for patterns, trends, implications, and relationships.
Maps deal with a specific period of geographical, political, or historical time. They focus on a specific topic, event, or development. Maps place the subject in a specific location. Remember to note the different types and purposes of maps.
Charts illustrate a relationship between subjects and trends over a specific period of time. Check title and category headings. Are the numbers percentages or absolute? Use the figures as given – do not refigure them. Check to see if the numbers are used in an abbreviated form. Are the illustrated changes or facts significant? If so, what is the importance? Remember the possible influence of outside historical events. Be aware of missing periods of time or data that was left out.
Tables compare facts between several groups of related items. Much of the same information about charts applies to tables and graphs. Tables need not represent time or time changes. They display great amounts of data in a simplified form. Diagrams and flowcharts summarize an idea through the illustration of an idea’s parts. Check the title and labels; examine the parts.
Graphs use data to represent comparisons and changes, frequently over time. With graphs, read the key, notice the title, and look for dates. Look for trends or patterns over time. Circle or pie graphs represent the total quality (100%) of something. The portions or slices represent a percentage. Notice if any of the parts are larger or smaller than the rest. Look for relationships between the parts and compare parts to the whole. Read both axes of bar and line graphs. One represents a value. The other represents time. They also may compare several different items for a quantity or value. Bar graphs are drawn to make a comparison, so make one!
Time Lines show the passage of time and trends in chronological order. They may compare items, too. They may be printed horizontally or vertically. All have dates, and unless it says BCE, you may assume it is CE.
PART C: PRINTED MEDIA
The first instruments that dictators control are the various forms of mass media. Written media have been subject to extreme control or restrictions. Until recently, most media were censored. Additionally, dictators have often used the media to publicize their views and control populaces. All societies do the same to a greater or lesser degree. Be very observant to detail and biases. And remember, until recently, most humans could neither read nor write. Consequently, the printed media was often published for the more educated, richer, and socially important citizens.
Newspapers are a favorite DBQ document. But the parts of the newspaper vary in importance and reliability. What portion of the newspaper is depicted? Is it an editorial (opinion) or article (report of events and facts)? Before the 20th century it is hard to distinguish between the two. Remember, newspapers have no requirement to be accurate. Many are affiliated with political parties and display their points of view. Is it an interview? Interviews can be both opinionated and factual. Letters to the editors are another form of an editorial. Articles can reflect mass opinion or be an attempt to create it. Is there some evidence of a newspaper’ economic or social bias? Is the paper an urban or a rural? Is the paper regional such as southern or western? Economic newspapers are for investors and the rich. Does the paper cater to a specific ethnic or religious group?
Magazines and pamphlets often address the same concerns and questions associated with newspapers. Both, but especially pamphlets, which are printed for mass distribution, can be very biased towards a specific view. What is the magazine’s normal audience? Remember, readership is specific and less widely spread than a newspaper. The magazines people buy reflect the views people hold.
Books come in several types. Is the example fiction or non-faction, and if non-fiction, what type is it? Generally non-fiction sources are more accurate, but this is not always true. Is the book a primary or secondary source? Primary source books are products of their times, while most writers of secondary sources, especially texts and academic treatises attempt to remain impartial. Then, too, secondary sources are reflective of their times. When was the book written? Is the writer an expert in his/her field? Is he or she opinionated? Is the book politically motivated? Novels can be very realistic about the life and times in which they are set.
Poems use language as an art and are not meant necessarily to convey information. Often they convey emotion. In point of fact, poems have much in common with paintings. They illustrate a spiritual, symbolic, or emotional event or idea. Notice the author and check for personal affiliations, biased, etc.
PART D: SPEECHES
Speeches are always public and before a crowd. You must determine who is the intended audience of speaker. Is the speech a rough, extemporaneous draft or professionally written? The first often more accurately represent the speaker’s point of view, while the second is often polished and refined so it has an intended affect (or avoids backlash). Is the speech impromptu or was it formal, scheduled, public, or private? Is it a campaign speech? When you campaign, you say what gets you elected. If you know the speaker, does the speech reflect his beliefs or point of view?
PART E: PERSONAL DOCUMENTS
Personal by definition means private. Few people announce publicly what they will write in a private document. While the writings may be biased, you can assume that the opinions expressed are highly representative of the person’s point of view. If it is published, it was probably edited for publication, It probably conforms to specific views and can be meant to arouse support. Hastily-written items without corrections are less refined and probably more representative of the writer’s opinions.
Diaries or memoirs including autobiographies are private. People write what they feel or want or need in them. Generally, people do not seem to lie to diaries, but they do embellish memoirs. Note whether entries are before or after the fact? After the fact, people forget. They are not self-critical; people rarely criticize themselves. Memoirs are how the writers want to be remembered and they tender to be self-serving.
Letters can be private or public. If public, is it personal or official? Was the letter written to a subordinate or a superior? What is the relationship between the two people? Is the letter from an organization and for publication? Is the date significant? The purpose of the letter impacts its reliability.
PART F: POLITICAL STATEMENTS BY GROUPS AND PUBLIC RECORDS
Political statements represent the people, society, and group goals and policies in power. Or they represent their groups’ goals as they would have them if they could achieve power. Remember all are biased to one point of view: the person or group making it. Public records usually include laws and statutes. In that they must be implemented and enforced, such documents are usually more realistic and reliable.
Party platforms or official party ideologies are critical. Decide if the party is important. Minority parties rarely carry the same weight as a mass party. If the platform is during an election, remember the candidate agrees with the platform if he/she is in the party. Additionally, party platforms are compromises between conflicting interests in the party. Smaller parties’ ideologies are more argumentative and flamboyant. Conventions are pep-rallies to win. If the state is a dictatorship, party ideologies represent the view in power. And remember, politicians proclaim publicly what will keep them in power or get them reelected.
Laws, proclamations, orders, verdicts, legislative debates, parliamentary speeches, legal testimony, and legal statutes are all common documents in a DBQ. And they are official. They represent the legal point of view of the government in power or official finding of a court. To analyze, decide why the law was passed? Laws are passed to solve or prevent a problem. What does it represent? Laws are victories for the man/party in power. Laws are guides to actions allowed and prohibited. Laws are generally representative of the majority’s opinion. Some laws are symbolic. Is the document a commentary by a higher court or official? What type of law is it: civil, criminal, business, canon, international? Who signed or authorized the law? The simplest way is to discuss who passed the law, what was the intent of the law, and who will be affected by the law. Politicians place into official records what they want the public to hear. Court testimony is usually under oath and few societies tolerate lies to courts.
Treaties are favorites of DBQs. Notice the date and countries signing the treaty. What are the conditions of the treaty? Why was it signed? Treaties attempt to solve existing problems or conflicts. What actions or conditions does the treaty specify for fulfillment. Does the treaty specify consequences for non-compliance. Does the treaty mention a previous agreement or action? Treaties are often signed by weaker states, which had no choice – they lost. Winners write the treaties. Treaties can he harsh and unrealistic. The language of treaties is highly formalized and VERY specific. Diplomats have a language all their own.