Wed., April 27, 2001:Spot the Differences


A popular English-teaching exercise is called ‘spot the differences.’ A student looks at two pictures, one basic, the second with small bits missing or changed. The student is supposed to find and describe the differences in the two pictures.

Having taught English in Prague for the better part of a decade, I know how popular this exercise is. So here’s one for you, our readers, because the traditional editorial policies of Opus Osm may be a bit different from what you’re used to. Here’s how you can spot some of the differences:

1 Opus Osm conducts interviews with the main source of information for an article. The difference: some media reprint press releases sent by a group’s public relations or marketing department.

How can you spot the difference? The somewhat ‘official’ writing style is a dead giveaway that the information in an article has come only from a press release. Articles in Opus Osm include actual quotes and the key phrase, “he tells Opus Osm…” to indicate that someone from our staff interviewed the subject in person.

Spot the differences?

2 Opus Osm also publishes original photos which our staff has taken themselves. The difference: again, some media simply reprint photos supplied by a marketing or public relations department. True, sometimes a group prohibits photography, and then Opus Osm must use the supplied photo.

How can you spot the difference? Look for the photo credits given with almost every Opus Osm article. When there aren’t any, it means the photo or illustration has come from the public domain.

3 Opus Osm tries to write articles before an event occurs, so that you can learn something interesting about an upcoming performance in time to get tickets and see it for yourself. The difference: some media only report on events after they happen. Opus Osm does not write reviews; we want you to go to the performance and decide for yourself what you think about it.

How can you spot the difference? Check for dates in the article.

4 Opus Osm does not accept money for articles or charge readers a subscription fee. That’s because we sincerely believe that access to information should be free and available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. The difference: some media accept large fees and then allow a subject to write an article himself/herself. (These writers are generally not trained, professional journalists.)

How can you spot the difference? Look for a by-line — the author’s name — included with almost every Opus Osm article. (Simpler articles which are not interviews but are basic information — for example, lists of upcoming events — do not have a by-line but nevertheless are original with Opus Osm.) Also, articles which have been purchased by the author generally contain a lot of grand language, claiming that a performer or a performance is “the best,” “the top,” “incomparable,” etc.

5 Opus Osm is written by real people, like you, who don’t claim to be experts or professionals in classical music, opera, or ballet. We look for details and information from a new, fresh perspective, and whenever possible we try to include information from a general audience’s point of view. We figure what’s interesting to us is probably interesting to you, too. The difference: some media feel that the more academic and intellectual the writing is, the more legitimate and better it is.

How can you spot the difference? Read.

We appreciate readers’ support, comments, and suggestions. Thanks for reading. Don’t stop. — oo

– Mary Matz, editor

Photo Credits: Original photo: Zuzana Pernicová

One Comment

  1. Lynne DeMichele
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Thanks for clarifying the difference between an unbiased report and a promotional piece. It’s easy to assume they’re the same.

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