This as the Boston Massacre. Boston Massacre

This lesson discusses how differing authors present the same information.

Authors use facts, opinions, images and the power of persuasion to connect with their audience.

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Presenting the Facts

If you gave a room full of people no other instructions except to write about pie, what would they do? One person might write about their favorite Thanksgiving memory, another might recite a family recipe. One person might give the history of pie, while another lists as many types of pie as they can.If people can write about pie in so many different ways, then it is not surprising that authors writing on other topics can also present the same information differently.

The form of writing, organization of material and author’s perspective can drastically change the same topic, even one as historically popular as the Boston Massacre.

Boston Massacre

Tensions were high in the British Colonies in 1770. Many Patriots, or colonists who wanted freedom from Britain, were upset at the way the British were treating them.

The Patriots needed any reason to justify breaking away from Great Britain, and they found one on a cold day in March. After a scuffle with British soldiers, gunshots were fired and five colonists were killed. The Patriots used this event to help them persuade other colonists to join in the fight against the British. And it worked. Let’s take a look at how this information was used by differing authors.

Different Forms of Writing

Just like the pie example, people’s own experiences shape how they interpret and write about information. There are many different forms of writing that change how information is presented:

Authors Present Facts

This might be in charts, graphs, percentages, or just in paragraph form.

The author’s goal here is to let the reader decide what to do with the information. The author tries their best to not persuade the reader in any way. focused on being more objective and to look at the event in the context of other things going on at the time. In the Boston Massacre example, the facts were who, what, where, when, and why it happened.

Authors Share Personal Experience.

This used to be in diary or journal form, but now many people use online blogs. This is a more informal, personal and conversational way to share a person’s own experience. In the Boston Massacre example, first-hand accounts shared what people were doing at the time of the massacre, where they were standing when it happened, and how it made them feel. This type of writing gives the reader a way to connect to the material as a mother, a soldier or a politician.

Authors Paint a Picture.

You have probably heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words.

Authors use visuals to help readers visualize an event and somehow connect with it. Today we have TV, internet and photographs to actually record events, but in the 1770s, people relied on paintings and descriptive texts. Powerful images from the Boston Massacre really stuck with colonists such as this one:

The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, a publication of the massacre that uses images
fruit

Authors persuade.

Finally, perspective, or a point of view that is often influenced by the background and experience of the author, makes a difference in how the author presents information. Two authors can present information on the same event, but because the authors have different backgrounds and experiences, they have different perspectives.

This can be used to the author’s advantage, especially if they have a cause that needs supporting. In the case of the Boston Massacre, perspective played an extremely important role for those who did not witness the event. British soldiers argued that the American colonists formed a mob and were harassing them, and that firing shots was necessary for their own protection.

However, colonists argued that the British shot and killed the colonists for no reason. The colonist’ article, especially the word massacre really struck a chord with the colonists and was instrumental in the colonists’ decision to declare independence.

An article about the massacre from the Boston Gazette and Country Journal
Boston Gazette
There are two sides to the Boston Massacre
Boston

Lesson Summary

Authors can take the same event and present the information in different ways. They might present the facts, share a personal experience, paint a picture or persuade their audience to see things from their perspective. These influence the way that an author presents information.

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