Media and Public Speaking

The other night during Crossing Jordan there was a commercial from McDonald’s sponsoring a "recap" that summarized the first half hour of the show. And I wondered why.
• Because the story line is so complex viewers need an internal summary?
• Because people lose attention; they multitask, use their laptops, talk on the phone? Or they doze in and out during the show?
• Because writers and producers want to give the show more focus than it really has by summarizing (and focusing) the main themes?
• Because it’s assumed that viewers surf during the dull parts of the show or don’t return quickly enough from surfing during commercials?
And then I thought, isn’t this the same as what we tell our public speaking students when we suggest transitions and internal summaries? I guess it’s for the same reasons. And I wonder if this going to be a steady type of announcement? Will it become the standard mid-hour commercial? Will we come to rely on it? And if so, is that going to lead us to pay less careful attention, figuring we’ll get the recap soon enough? And if so, is this going to lead us to become less aware of the meaning of media’s messages and less critical of the media generally?


An exercise in media literacy

Watching TV the other night, I started thinking of something I see all the time but never gave it much thought and that was the advertisements that include little notes that say, “See our ad in X magazine”. AmbienCR says something like “See our ad in Cooking Light”. Exactly what are these little notes designed to accomplish? What are they telling us? Do they want us to go out and buy the magazine and read their ad? Do they want us to appreciate the fact that they have an ad in a magazine? Do they want us to thumb through the magazines around the house to find their ad? Do they want to suggest that the magazine endorses their product? If I were in the classroom right now, I’d want to ask students what purpose these notes serve.


Public Speaking

Here's a great little article on public speaking as public relations. It's amazing how many people in the real world rate public speaking as more important than our academic colleagues would. Perhaps public speaking is too practical.


The Rhetoric of War

It's interesting--tho' disheartening--to read about the 15 British service personnel who apparently were in Iran's territorial waters and the response this is generating--the war chants seem to have begun soon after this event took place. Is this Blair's WMD, his excuse to invade Iran? And if so, will Bush be far behind?

Stress and Communication

Here's an interesting article on reducing stress. What makes it particularly interesting to me is that the techniques are wholly or largely communication techniques that we teach our students and write about in our textbooks: assertiveness; conflict resolution; verbal, nonverbal, and listening skills; social networking, selective awareness, humor, self-esteem, and such techniques as thought stopping, systematic desensitization, and re-labeling. Seldom do we take the skills we teach and apply them to such everyday problems like stress. This article is an interesting example of how to take what we all know so well and apply it to make life easier and, in this particular case, less stressful.


Public Speaking

Here is some useful advice on public speaking; it's amazing how many organizations are devoted to teaching public speaking skills.



Today, in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq to find and destroy Weapons of Mass Destruction--without United Nations approval. Total Americans dead = over 3000. Total Iraqi dead = over 700,000. Total injured (physically and psychologically) = in the millions.



Today, in 1860 William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois. Perhaps best known for his Cross of Gold speech (which you can access at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/
williamjenningsbryan1896dnc.htm), Bryan was also the prosecuting attorney in the Scopes [Monkey] Trial of 1925 in which he faced Clarence Darrow. The Jury returned a verdict after 9 minutes of deliberation; Scopes was guilty of teaching evolution--a law that Tennessee didn't overturn until 1967!



In 1782 John C. Calhoun, one of the great orators of the period, was born. A senator from South Carolina he opposed the compromise of 1850 in a famous speech which, oddly enough, was not delivered by him; he was too ill at the time. Instead the 42 page long speech was read by Senator James Murray Mason of Virginia. You can read the speech at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mcc:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28mcc/009%29%29


Top U.S. General Calls Homosexuality Immoral

Here's a good example of personal and institutionalized homophobia. Apparently, it's fine to kill people--even civilians, to torture people even before their guilt is established, and to hold people in custody for months and even years without the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial, but it's not o.k. for same sex couples to make love or for someone to have an extra-marital affair. This is a pretty screwed up military imho.
Top U.S. General Calls Homosexuality Immoral



Scrotum and Vagina—two words that have recently created quite a storm. “Scrotum” appeared in a children’s book by Susan Patron, The Higher Power of Lucky and led to protests by parents and librarians. “Vagina” was spoken by three girls at John Jay High School as they read a passage from The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler and who were suspended because of it. Both of these instances point to a real problem. But the problem is not with the words, it’s with the people who want to keep these words hidden and secretive. Don’t these people—these self-appointed protectors of the dictionary—realize that boys and girls know about these body parts and talk about them—whether they use these specific terms or not? Don’t they realize that their discomfort with these words only reflects their own ignorance about language and language usage? Don’t they realize that their objections to these words only add to their mystery? And of course it goes deeper; it communicates to children that sex is bad, even sexual information is bad. Apparently these people assume that if you don’t use the word, you won’t know the concept; if they can keep children from using these words, they can keep them innocent. How uninformed, how misinformed can people be?



Today, in 1946 in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill delivered his "An Iron Curtain Has Descended" speech. Churchill here first used the phrase "iron curtain". To read the speech go to http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speechbanks-z.htm.



Today, in 1933 Franklin Roosevelt delivered his First Inaugural Address. To read it and hear it, go to http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speechbanka-f.htm.



Today in 1847 Alexander Graham Bell was born. This link is to the New York Times obituary.