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Given this passage:

We are even farther removed from the unfocused newspaper reviews published in England between the turn of the 20th century and the eve of World War II, at a time when newsprint was dirt-cheap and stylish arts criticism was considered an ornament to the publications in which it appeared. In those far-off days, it was taken for granted that the critics of major papers would write in detail and at length about the events they covered.Theirs was a serious business, and even those reviewers who wore their learning lightly, like George Benard Shaw and Ernest Newman, could be trusted to know what they were about. These men believed in journalism as a calling, and were proud to be published in the daily press. "So few anthors have brains enough or literary gift enough to keep their own end up in journalism,' Newman wrote, 'that I am tempted to define 'journalism' as 'a term of contempt applied by writers who are not read to writers who are'.

Question: which of the following would Shaw and Newman most probably agree on?

  1. It's a writer's duty to fulfill journalistic goals

  2. Writers are likely to be tempted into journalism

  3. Not all writers are capable of journalistic writing.

Note: This was a reading comprehension exercise but after I finished it I found myself didn't follow the answer, which is 3 (I choose 1, because the word "calling" in the material has the meaning of duty(I am not sure whether the word has that meaning)) I need some help and thanks for donating your time to read the material.

  • What made you choose 'A'? (I'm not being obstructive, it would help us understand your current reading of the passage). – JHCL Oct 13 '15 at 14:05
  • @JHCL "These men believed in journalism as a calling" The word calling has the meaning of duty(I am not sure whether it is true) – Rowan Oct 13 '15 at 14:09
  • okay, let me ask if you believe S & N thought all writers had this calling, and felt this duty? Doesn't the text suggest it applied to only a "few"? – JHCL Oct 13 '15 at 14:15
  • @JHCL What you are reasoning make sense to me,but choice 3 is only the viewpoint of Newman, probably Shaw would agree with him. – Rowan Oct 13 '15 at 14:55
  • Good point; I think it's covered by "These men believed..." – JHCL Oct 13 '15 at 14:57
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I believe you've fallen into the trap of the "best-but-not-necessarily-totally-correct-answer" that is the bane of the multiple-choice answer.

You are right that 1 is a correct answer, but 3 is the best correct answer. (2, of course, is an outright incorrect answer.)

The reason 3 is the best answer is summarized by these two passages:

Theirs was a serious business, and even those reviewers who wore their learning lightly, like George Bernard Shaw and Ernest Newman, could be trusted to know what they were about.

and

So few authors have brains enough or literary gift enough to keep their own end up in journalism,' Newman wrote, 'that I am tempted to define 'journalism' as 'a term of contempt applied by writers who are not read to writers who are'.

In the first passage it lumps Shaw and Newman together as two men who are more than capable of journalistic writing. In the second passage, Newman says most writers for newspapers are not journalists, as they are unable to write well enough for the title.

Shaw and Newman are journalists; Newman says they are a rare breed. Therefore, Shaw and Newman most probably agree that not all writers are capable of journalistic writing.

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Shaw and Newman agreed that all writers were not skilled in journalistic writing.

  • I didn't get your point. Can you explain your answer please? – Rowan Oct 13 '15 at 16:09
  • @Rowan. In those days, writers wrote and criticized much, because they thought that such writings were ornaments to newspapers not knowing their skill of writing. Newman described journalism full of contempt if it was by unskilled writers. – aswaaks Oct 13 '15 at 20:53

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