Monday, November 24, 2008

International Influence of Media Rhetoric

With obtainable, fast paced technology, the media is able to cross international boundaries connecting countries with other countries information. My case study attempts to demonstrate how the media persuades its audience and predisposes feelings among its audience with war rhetoric. The case study I chose compared specific words, repeatedly used by four newspapers, two from the U.S. and two from the U.K. The study used computerized content analysis to obtain their results.

The results found that rhetoric from the U.S. newspapers concerning the War on Terrorism tended to have emotional appeal, influencing its readers to support military action, government policy and promote national unity. U.K. rhetoric concerning the War on Terrorism had different results and was not infiltrated with agenda setting. Due to the location of the U.K. in relation to many other countries, (who also have a pronounced interest in the current terrorist situation at hand) and its cultural proximity to the values encouraged by the U.S., rhetoric used by U.K. newspapers took on an international perspective and collected information from many possible sources, such as internationally acclaimed professors, military officials and council members from multiple different countries. Rather than promoting immediate military action it took on multiple points of view in regard to the actions the U.S. should take and situational/international factors that underlie the intentions of the terrorists. For example, the following words were found to be repeatedly used by U.S. newspapers: Bin Laden, terrorism, national security, bombing suicide, plot, all found to facilitate intense feelings of dislike towards Muslims.

Even still, all evidence from my case study seems to tend more to the idea that the media shapes our messages, it is not impossible to rule out that we have no influence upon shaping our media. As pointed out in the discussion, many believe that we do. For example, consider how important polling or headlines are to advertising and keeping readers. Both take into account what will sell and what news to endorse and/or sell. Public opinion cannot be ruled out and should remain as a prominent factor in media news reporting. Concluding, that although mass media does shape our thinking and messages, there is an equal role that the public plays in creating and shaping what the mass media displays.


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