Argument Task: Decision making on the content of a magazine

Dear forum members,

Could you please check my first Argument Essay? This is the first time I wrote such an essay. I need your feedback in order to work on my gaps as soon as possible. The test date is coming soon.

Since those issues of Newsbeat magazine that featured political news on their front cover were the poorest-selling issues over the past three years, the publisher of Newsbeat has recommended that the magazine curtail its emphasis on politics to focus more exclusively on economics and personal finance.
She points to a recent survey of readers of general interest magazines that indicates greater reader interest in economic issues than in political ones. Newsbeat’s editor, however, opposes the proposed shift in editorial policy, pointing out that very few magazines offer extensive political coverage anymore.

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.

Based on the statistics on readers of general interest magazines and declining sales of the magazine issues covering mainly the political topics, the publisher of Newsbeat suggests that the editor should cut with extensive political coverage in the subsequent issues. While it may seem reasonable to curtail detailing political events at first sight, more thorough examination of the case demonstrates the need for addressing some issues prior to lending to the final decision.

First and foremost, the publisher refers to the recently conducted survey that suggests that readers of general interest magazines are not much interested in political issues as in economic ones. The publisher assumes that the readers of Newsbeat represent the broad general public. Though it might have been a case, we do not know, from the information given, whether the target audience of Newsbeet read the magazine out of general interest or they are professionals with the specialized interests. So, the first essential question to address is what the reader profile of Newsbeat is. By addressing this question, we can determine whether survey results are applicable for the matter at hand or not.

Secondly, the source of the survey as well as the methodology used in designing the sample and carrying out the survey are not stated. The survey results may have been fabricated or biased depending on their source. What if the rigorous competitors of Newsbeat are trying to obtain their market share? It might be that the unfair competition is taking place. Without knowing the source of the survey, the evidence does not appear to be credible. Or, let’s assume that the survey was done without thorough consideration and planning, which led to the biased unrepresentative sample in the first place. Or, it might have been that the questions were asked in a manner that triggered response biases. If this is the case, the accuracy of the survey methodology ought to be verified. So, the second thing to determine is to find out the source of the survey, check its credibility, and verify the results. Addressing this question will allow us to see if we can rely on the data provided by the survey.

Next, the publisher points out that over the course of 3 years the magazine issues extensively covering the political news were not sold out as good as other issues. She links the poor sales with a topic of a magazine issue. Yet, she does not take into account the broader context. Let us ask what has been going on in the world in the last 3 years. Apparently, there may be more to this case than meets the eye. For one thing, the people’s interest in either political or economic news is triggered by various events. Over 3 years, people may have been interested primarily in the economic issues because of the rampant price volatility or unexpected climate changes that caused the low harvest yield and scarcity of food supply. The reasons behind the trend under investigation can be numerous, and this requires further research on the demand fluctuations. By identifying the major factors contributing to the sales decline, we can propose reasonable assumptions on what caused public’s disinterest in the political news.

In summary, the case analysis has clearly showed that it is important to identify the core factors underpinning the decline in sales. In addition to examination of sufficiency, credibility and accuracy of the evidence, the editor’s comment should be noted. Provided that he advances the accurate data stating that ‘very few magazines offer extensive political coverage’, this implies that detailing political news is their strong competitive advantage. In the light of this, while it may be beneficial to modify the content of Newsbeat due to negative sales dynamics of the issues dedicated to political news, before making a final decision, the major questions should be addressed. This will enable the publisher to make a sound judgement on the necessity of a content change.

Hi Trololo, I think you definitely have the right idea behind effectively writing an argument essay. The ideas you have are clearly stated and convincing. It is important not to just say “this data is definitely flawed” but instead stress that it could be flawed and what additional information could verify its strength. To me, a main point that stuck out is that we seem to be “comparing apples to oranges” in some respects. The issues that sold poorly featured political cover stories, but that does not necessarily mean that the entire issues in question focused on politics. Issues that featured other cover stories may have still included quite a bit of political content, we really don’t know from the data give. Plus, how many magazines in the three years featured political news on the cover. Are we talking about 3 or 4 issues? That would seem like too small of a sample size to make a fully informed decision. And the editor might have a point, but it would be good to verify the quantity of politics focussed magazines on the market and especially their readership trends. If their circulation numbers are going up, this implies there may be growth potential in continuing to focus on political news, but the obverse could also be the case.

And sorry for my delay. I don’t often check this forum - next time send me a reminder via private message.

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for such helpful assistance! I really appreciate it. I have GRE in Feb, 9. I am working hard to score as high as possible in my case. I’ll work on Issue Task this week, and will contact you shortly. Thank you so much!