The Hunting Of Billie Holiday Analysis

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Slanted Perspectives
Authors of a long-form piece of journalism, while unable to completely remove bias, can substantially minimise it by employing facts, direct quotations, and a disciplined use (or disuse) of hyperbolic and implicative language.
In Johann Hari’s “The Hunting of Billie Holiday,” Hari depicts a relatively unbiased version of the events surrounding the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ pursuit of the famous African-American singer, Billie Holiday. The article frequently references specific events and individuals in its account and employs frequent use of direct quotations from primary sources such as FBN internal memos and New York Times articles (Hari, Politico). One particularly striking example is a quotation from George White,
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They describe in detail the bank’s various policies, such as the creation of the Group Executive Committee that further centralised power to CEO Josef Ackermann (Fichtner, Der Spiegel). They talked in depth about the various personnel involved with the bank, how they affected policy, and how policy affected the company, its success, and its very core nature (Fichtner, Der Spiegel). Their work, while peppered with objective analysis, is largely composed of facts – cold hard facts – which makes the article seem unbiased and objective to the reader, as facts have no…show more content…
In John McPhee’s “Omissions,” he discusses the process of whittling down the reams of research conducted for a piece of long-form journalism into a cohesive and more succinct article (McPhee, The New Yorker). “Writing is selection,” “from the first word of the first sentence in an actual composition, the writer is choosing, selecting, and deciding (most importantly) what to leave out” (McPhee, The New Yorker). The author, obviously, cannot include every single piece of information he has uncovered in his final article. The reader does not need and would not want to read all minute details, meaning that the author must select which facts to include and which to omit. And by the very nature of writing – the structure of the piece, the selection of facts – they introduce bias into the article. They can minimise that bias by including all relevant facts and by removing the author from the article, or as McPhee put it, “to the extent that this is all about you, leave that out” (McPhee, The New Yorker). One example of this occurs in “The Hunting of Billie Holiday,” where, despite the superficial impartiality of the article, the author obviously structured his work to drive a narrative. Upon finishing the article, the reader feels sympathetic to Miss Holiday’s woes because of how Hari chose to end the article: with her death and with the FBN’s
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