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Commenting on Commentary

By Brian Torsiello, Rohan Wagh, Paul Tempel, Trung Tran, Yi Yang

What is Commentary as a Genre?
Short, journalistic essay

Found often in columns in newspaper or personal blogs

Similar to personal essay, more news-like than literary


Report content
Inform a way of making sense
Something to react to

Writing critically about a topic
● Analyzing a topic within a larger societal context
● Personal Feelings/Reflections

Commentary Genre
● Perspective
○ Point of view

● Tone:
○ Subjective, Personal
Formal, Informed, Concerned

Commentary is your explanation and interpretation of the concrete detail. It
may include interpretation, analysis, argument, insight and reflection.
1. Ask a question.

2. Make a thought provoking statement
3. Write an anecdote.
4. Use quotations.
5. Write a summary lead.

Start your commentary by put yourself into commentary-mode:
This show…
This is because…
This means…
This reveals…

This illustrates…
This highlights the difference between...

General Structure
Point #1
• Reason
• Reason

Point #3

• Fact
• Reason
• Evidence

Point #2

• Fact

• Reason
• Evidence
• Fact

1. Compare the 3 examples , identify the differences.
2. Which Commentary explains connection between supporting detail and idea
in own words?
a. “Each keystroke, each carriage return, makes Helmuth hate Hitler and his war all the more”
(Bartoletti, 83-84). This illustrates that Helmuth despises Hitler and the Nazis.
b. “Each keystroke, each carriage return, makes Helmuth hate Hitler and his war all the more”
(Bartoletti, 83-84). This illustrates that Helmuth despises Hitler and the Nazis, because he is
blaming them for causing war and unrest in Germany.
c. “Each keystroke, each carriage return, makes Helmuth hate Hitler and his war all the more”
(Bartoletti, 83-84). This illustrates that Helmuth despises Hitler and the Nazis because he
hates Hitler.

Music Commentaries

Music Commentaries: Rohan
Larger Rhetorical Situation is usually discussed
Purpose: To give an analysis of a work of music, possibly
swaying readers towards a stand on a particular song,
album, artist, etc.

Larger Rhetorical Situation: State of the Industry
“ light of the current climate at YMCMB, which sees Lil
Wayne suing Cash Money Records Co-Founder, Birdman,
for $51 million dollars over the delayed release of Tha
Carter V album and threatening to bring Drake and Nicki
with him when he exits, is this mixtape/album Drake’s
long-awaited reaction to the debacle?” (Weprin).

Larger Rhetorical Situation: History of the
“No one knows how to label this 17-track after it was initially
released onto the OVO SoundCloud page as a mixtape,
and later taken down only to find a new home on the more
profitable alternative, iTunes. The plot thickens when we
examine Drake’s decision to pull what is now famously
known as “a Beyonce.” (Weprin)

Persona & Opinion over Evidence
“Commentaries do not include original data and are heavily
dependent on the author’s perspective or anecdotal
evidence from the author’s personal experience to
support the argument.” (Majumder).

All Opinions are Valid
Review 1: “And if you liked the dolorous electronica they
brought to bear on Drake’s 2010 debut Thank Me Later,
you’ll love this dense, downbeat affair.” (Lester).

Review 2: “Moreover, there is a palpable shift from the
“Thank Me Later-Drake” (Weprin).

All Opinions are Valid example 2
Review 1: “Intimate, intense, wistful, endlessly questioning,
open-hearted Drake, backed by pristine machine beats, with
aching chord sequences and lovely synth codas – longtime
Drake fans will find much to appreciate here” (Lester).
Review 2: “Whether the higher elevation has brought
spectacular scenery, altitude sickness, or possibly a little bit
of both, is up for debate” (Weprin).

Persona is developed through Opinion
Review 1 on a news channel that covers a wide range of
topics: “longtime Drake fans will find much to appreciate
here” (Lester).

Review 2 on a smaller online publication focused on specific
brands of rap and fashion: “‘ Drake enters casually,
acknowledging that should he succumb to a fatal ending
in the near future, he would indeed be the stuff of legends.
Agreeably, so” (Weprin).

Sports Commentary
Purpose: To entertain and give viewers valid information on what’s going on
Talk about what’s happening in the game
Generally is an in game commentary, but there can also be written forms as well
Persona is usually casual and occasionally humorous
Assumes viewers/readers have a basic knowledge of the game
Points out things that aren’t necessarily obvious to a casual fan

Generally uses ethos as most of commentators have professional experience in
the field

Sports Commentary (cont.)
Two Types of Commentators (generally a team)
Color Commentator
Gives background info

“Fun Facts”
History on team/Player
Analyzes the plays
Generally has an on-screen personality


(NFL on FOX)

Sports Commentary

Commentary in News
Found mostly in newspapers and news websites under the ‘opinion’ section
Reporting and commentary are very different (Hendrich):
Reporting is the relaying of news or events without giving an opinion
Commentary gives an opinion on the news, and further explains this view to the reader


Commentary in News
Opinions are usually structured around a conflict in the
The writer picks a side and presents their perspective and
This opinion is influenced by the writer’s bias

The opinion of the writing is argued through:
Use of other rhetorical devices and styles

Social Commentary
A common type of commentary in news media
Also under ‘opinion’ section

Social commentary discusses news concerning society and social issues
This commentary is similar to that of political commentary:
Political commentary focuses specifically on government and politics

Both commentaries are commonly found on talk radio, newspapers, and on

Examples of News Commentary
Social commentary with a comedic twist:

Literary Commentary - What
is it?
1000-2000 words
Seen in language classes
Detailed analysis of a passage of text
Technique of writing
Words on the page
Providing interpretation on the purpose of the text

Literary Commentary - What to Include
Different elements of the text

Literary devices
Point of view

Quality over quantity

Literary Commentary - Structure
1. Title
2. Introduction





Title and summary of text


What will you be talking about?

3. Body Paragraph 1





Quote Analysis

Literary Commentary - Tips
Reread a text multiple times
Take notes and make an outline
Don’t share obvious analysis
Look beyond the literal meaning
Be you, no interpretation is wrong

Literary Commentary - Example
Life cannot exist without death. E. B. White's story "Once More to the Lake" is about a man who revisits a lake
from his childhood to discover that his life has lost placidity. The man remembers his childhood as he remembers
the lake: peaceful and still. Spending time at the lake as an adult has made the man realize that his life has
become unsettling and restless, like the tides of the ocean. Having brought his son to this place from his own
past, the man makes inevitable comparisons between his own son and his childhood self, and between himself as
an adult and the way he remembers his father from his childhood perspective. Through a changing setting,
nostalgic mood, and unexpected epiphany, White utilizes this story of a return visit to a childhood location to
elucidate that at some point humans must accept their own mortality.

What is the purpose of this passage?
How does the writer achieves this purpose?

Works Cited
Brunswick, Alyssa. "Portfolio Page." Portfolio Page. Web. 24 Feb. 2016
"Commentary Essay". Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne - IPFW. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
"Commentary Techniques". University of Richmond. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
"Commentary-Writing Guidelines." Bristol University. School of Modern Languages. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
Defense News,. Commentary: Ensure Sovereignty, Access, Security In Arctic. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
Forsyth, S. "Top Ten Tips for Writing A Literary Analysis." Bright Hub Education. N.p., 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
Gresham, Tom. "What is a color commentator." n.d. globalpost. Document. 14 Febuary 2016.
Hendrich, Caleb. "The Difference between Reporting and Commentary." Rocky Mountain Collegian. 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Lester, Paul. "Drake: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late Review – Intimate, Intense, Wistful." The Guardian. 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 22

Works Cited cont.
"Example Paragraphs of Literary Analysis Essays." N.p., 7 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
"How To Create News and Commentary." How To Create News and Commentary. American Public Transportation Association. Web.
16 Feb. 2016.
K. Majumder, "A young researcher's guide to perspective, commentary, and opinion articles", Editage Insights(02-09-2015), 2015.
Namie, Gary, Dr. "The Work Doctor Radio Show." Workplace Bullying Institute. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
NFL. "Odell Beckham makes catch of the year!" 24 January 2015. Youtube. Video. 10 February 2016.
ReEvolutionTV, Leandro M. "Danny Hart's 2011 World Championship Winning Downhill Run at Champery." 10 September 2011.
Youtube. Video. 10 February 2016.
Shmoop University,. Essay-Outline-Structure. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
"Short Prose Genres: Defining Essay, Short Story, Commentary, Memoir, And Mixed Genre - Writer's Relief, Inc.". Writer's Relief, Inc..