While fact provides only the initial information and surrounding details, analysis gets at the heart of what explains or defines a situation or issue. Both fact and analysis are essential starting points for journalists. They also provide “first stops” for public relations and advertising writers. Judgment enables you to apply critical thinking to judge a situation, issue, idea, or opinion. In the campus sexual assault scenario above, a fellow student or the director of your university counseling center might submit a letter to the editor or opinion column addressing the issue of sexual assault or sexual violence.
He or she would be likely to consider these questions in drafting the piece. News audiences often criticize media organizations for saying they are delivering straight news, when in reality, they are essentially making judgments. For example, regardless of whether they are liberal or conservative, not many television news viewers would argue that commentators Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Bill O’Reilly on Fox News are just delivering straight news, devoid of any judgment. In this environment, judgment seems to be inseparable from the facts and analysis behind key news issues of the day.
Throughout the ages, communicators have used various theories and techniques to move people to action. From the days of Socrates to the modern marketing era, professional persuaders have made a living creating messages to change behaviors.