Category Archives: Work in Progress

Work Plan for English 015 Group Project

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

21 April 2014

Work Plan for English 015 Group Project

Group Members:

Nabeel Ahmad

Connor Dougherty

Lindsey Rae Evans

Dylan Johnson

James Miller

Nathasha Ramirez

 

Advocacy Project:  Petals for People (A “Pay-It-Forward” Campaign)

 

Goal:  The goal is to encourage the Penn State community to participate in an “Act of Kindness Day.”  On this day, people can perform random acts of kindness for others to raise awareness for the power of positive actions.  To do this, we will instruct site followers on how to create paper flower designs with inspirational messages to hand out on the day of the event.

 

Audience:  Penn State students and faculty

 

Deadline:  May 2nd

 

Jobs:

Creating the Website- Dylan Johnson

Responding to Questions- James Miller

Inviting Others to Group- Nabeel Ahmad

Photography- Connor Dougherty

Writing Stories about Random Acts of Kindness- Everyone

Flower Design Rubric- Lindsey Evans

Media (Pictures and Videos) – Nathasha Ramirez

 

Editing Buddies:

Nathasha Ramirez and Lindsey Rae Evans

James Miller and Dylan Johnson

Connor Dougherty and Nabeel Ahmad

 

Schedule:

Layout of Facebook Group- April 25th

Flower Design- April 25th

All Posts- April 30th

Finish Editing- May 1st

Petals for People- May 2nd

 

Draft 1: General Education Reform Recommendation

General Overview

As a current Penn State student as well as a Penn State dual-enrollment student in high school, I have noticed a growing need for a university-wide General Education Reform.  Although the current system- an exploration focused curriculum- plays to the university’s desire for “well-rounded” students, it fails to prepare students for their upcoming careers.  Students tend to take general education classes which fail to correlate with their desired majors, leaving very little practical application for the information in real life.  At the same time, many students graduating today fail to display the technical and communication skills required by employers in the modern competitive job market.  I therefore recommend that Penn State create a course curriculum with a key focus on skills-based courses and a sub-focus on exploration: a mandatory (not included in the General Education credit requirements) skills-based six-credit English 015 and CAS 100 year-long freshman experience, 15 credits of skills-based classes, and 15 credits of exploration-based classes.  Overall, this system equally balances Penn State’s wishes for universally educated students while at the same time gives students the training they need for life after college.

Mandatory English and Speech Course

            Over the past several decades, as technology has increased, communication skills have undergone the opposite trend.  According to BBC Capital, today’s employers “are finding that their young hires are awkward in their interpersonal interactions and ill-prepared to collaborate effectively with teammates and develop relationships with clients.”  This is an unfortunate statistic, for, according to another source- Forbes- “Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization” and “Ability to create and/or edit written reports” lie respectively in the fourth and ninth positions for the top ten most important skills employers look for in today’s prospective employees.  According to a recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles, one of the main reasons why students go to college today is to land a job.  The survey states that “The portion of incoming freshmen that cited ‘to be able to get a better job’ as a very important reason for attending college reached… 87.9 percent in 2012, an increase from 85.9 percent in 2011.”   Whether a student is driven by goals of wealth or discovery, communication skills are a necessity, and the introduction of such skills to students early in their college careers is vital.  To help ease the growing trend in fewer and fewer communication skills in coming generations, Penn State should include a mandatory year-long six-credit writing and speaking class within every freshman’s course schedule.  The class could be broken into semesters with one semester focusing on effective speech (CAS 100) and the other focusing on effective writing (English 015) with teachers switching sections halfway through the year.  To give students an early introduction to their majors and be most effective, the classes could be broken up by college.  For example, the effective writing section of the class could include an introduction to technical writing within the student’s prospective major while the effective speaking section could have a focus on communication of ideas between majors.  The incorporation of such a course is crucial for freshmen, for- specifically in the area of technical writing- many students cannot get into the courses critical for their entire college career until they are seniors, making the information utterly useless.  Furthermore, in order to introduce students to the development of skills in today’s economy, the speaking section of the class could incorporate proper conduct for modern forms of communication such as podcasts, webinars, and even interviewing processes such as elevator pitches.  Overall, the inclusion of such a course within all freshmen schedules would not only give students a brief view into their career paths, but also valuable life skills that can be applied to any situation.

Skills Importance and Implementation

Skill implementation, however, should not be limited to the teaching of effective writing and speech.  Multiple other skills-related fields of study exist, and Penn State should require students to dedicate 15 credits to the integration of such.  In a recent study by the International Data Corporation and commissioned by Microsoft Corporation, it was discovered that, along with communication skills, “integration and presentation skills (CIPs) are required for about 40 percent of all positions and make up 11 of the top 20 skills that are required by 39 percent of the fastest growing, highest paying positions.”  The study- which selected the top 20 skills demanded for high-paying jobs between 2013 and 2020 from a list of over 11,000- determined that three of the 20 demanded skills were Microsoft Office applications.  From Microsoft Word to PowerPoint, employers are looking for students who are able to show not only proficient, but even exceptional digital literacy.  To give students an edge upon entering the workforce, Penn State should provide its students with a broad range of computer-based skills classes.  Such classes could teach students the inner workings of broad applications such as Microsoft Publisher or Excel, or they could teach more specialized applications such as SolidWorks for engineers or even Adobe Photoshop for artists.  Also listed in the top demanded skills of the survey were expertise in “Problem Solving” and “Troubleshooting.”  With this in mind, skills-based courses could also teach students how to deal with common computer malfunctions and hardware repair, creating a perfectly rounded student able to adapt to any real-life situation.

Exploration Importance and Implementation

Despite the vital importance of skills within the Penn State course curriculum, however, the need for exploration still exists both to give students independence within their own curriculum as well as a broader understanding of the world.  As my own English professor, Dr. Jessica O’Hara, told my English 015 class, the knowledge taught to her in one of her own general education classes made the difference between whether or not she was hired (provide quote).  Overall, exploration classes allow students to develop a self-identity.  As with the case of my English professor, classes taken outside of major requirements can show individuality to employers and make the employee stand out from the crowd.  The remaining 15 credits of the 30 credit curriculum should, therefore, consist of exploration-based classes.  This is a sufficient number of credits for students to develop a broader understanding of different cultural and societal studies without overwhelming course schedules with non-vital information to a specific major.  Penn State’s own website lists its exploration goals as “[providing] a broad overview of the world in which we live,” “[increasing] understanding of the relationship between people of different cultures,” and “[widening] international perspective.”  With only 15 credits of exploration classes, students could do just that without compromising the more vital studies of their career paths.

Easy Integration

            Overall, this recommendation for General Education reform at Penn State would not be difficult to integrate into the course curriculum, for it is in actuality not too far off from Penn State’s current system.  According to Penn State’s University Bulletin, the first objective listed under “Components of General Education” is “Skills courses that help develop quantitative and communication skills.”  It seems logical, therefore, that making skills become the main focus of Penn State’s General Education reformation would actually coincide with the university’s own definition of General Education.  Furthermore, though new skills courses would have to be added to the curriculum, dropping the credit load from the current 45 credit requirement to only 30 (plus the six credits required for the mandatory English and Speech course) would actually free up space for teachers and allow them to adjust their schedules accordingly.  Finally, little to no change would be required to integrate the mandatory English and Speech class, for English 015 and CAS 100 teachers would keep their current classes- with minor course changes- and then simply switch sections halfway through the school year.  If Penn State is truly adamant about General Education reform, why not take the plunge one step at a time to create a period of evaluation for what works and what does not?

Opponents of the Idea

As with any recommendation, however, opposing viewpoints take shape.  One argument of opponents of this plan for General Education reform is that students may already know how to use applications such as Microsoft Office, making the course redundant and even non-educational.  However, though such classes may exist, the choice of which classes to take is ultimately up to the student.  Students who do not feel comfortable in their abilities with more basic applications can choose the areas in which they need help while students who feel confident with their knowledge can move onto more major-based software.  The program would be based on the students’ own abilities, thus allowing each individual to judge for him or herself which classes would provide the most benefit.  Another argument against the incorporation of skills-based courses is that with the fast-paced growth of technology, the skills students learn one year may be obsolete by the time they graduate.  However, if done properly, skills-based courses would not only teach students how to use current technology, but also how to adapt to that of the future.  Though the abilities learned in one class may be geared towards a particular program or application, the skills remain universally applicable.  By putting an emphasis on problem solving within technological media, Penn State could train students how to use the tools of the future today.  One final argument made by opponents is that a theme-based approach to General Education reform would provide a better avenue for students.  However, with 15 credits of free exploration classes, students can decide for themselves a general “theme” for their classes without being hindered by an obligation to take classes that fulfill those under a specific label.

Benefits

As a whole, the benefits of a reformation of the Penn State General Education system outweigh the costs.  By creating a mandatory English and Speech class for freshmen, students can receive early exposure to and the ability to master the skills they will need throughout their careers.  15 credits of mandatory skills-based classes would give students an edge on the latest software trends while teaching them skills which can be applied to the future.  Furthermore, by limiting exploration credits to only 15, Penn State could give students a sufficient understanding of world cultures and societal views without taking away from major course studies.  With so many benefits to Penn State students as well as a fairly easy form of integration into the course curriculum, there is no doubt that this plan for General Education reform is the best course of action for providing the university’s greatest education thus far.

Stance for General Education Recommendation Report

After my group’s deliberation, I- along with the rest of my group- have decided that the best course of action for Penn State’s General Education reform would be to follow the guidelines laid out in Option 3 of the deliberation guide.  To review, Option 3 focuses mainly on implementing skills-related courses into Penn State’s current General Education curriculum.  Although, going into the deliberations, I agreed on the importance of skills, I had believed that a main focus on exploration (shown through Option 1) was the best option for creating Penn State’s desired well-rounded student.  Now, however, I believe that a mainly skills approach would not only reflect Penn State’s wishes for versatile students, but would also be the most beneficial to students in their careers.  Exploration is, of course, important for the individuality of student choices; students are, after all, paying for classes out of their own or their families’ pockets.  However, skills-based classes offer real world payoff and can be directly applied to any career field.

My recommendation for Penn State’s General Education reform would be to create a central focus on skills-based classes with a sub-focus on exploration.  I would change the 30 credit theme-focused template laid out on the General Education reform website to the following: 18 credits for skills-based classes, 12 credits for exploration-based classes, and have the idea for a combined  six credit English 015 and CAS 100 year-long freshman experience be mandatory (not included in the General Education credit requirements).  Specifically for the CAS 100 section of the combined course (which would be held during the student’s second semester), I would include an early introduction into technical writing to give students the skills they need to succeed in college before they are already seniors.  The 18 credits of skills-based classes could include basic computer communication classes, such as detailed usage of Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher which are essential in today’s integrated society.  They could also include more major-based courses such as usage of SolidWorks for engineers or Adobe Photoshop for photography students.  They could even include non-computer-based skill sets such as classes dealing with social behavior (such as effective translation of ideas between students in varying majors).  On a similar note, the exploration-based classes could also be more major focused.  For example, instead of taking a Freshman Seminar, incoming students could take a class specifically designed as an “Introduction to Major” course.   Each week students could learn about different fields of a specific field (such as fields in the College of Science) or even a wide range of topics from each college.  Overall, the decisions of which skills-based classes and exploration classes to take (with the exception of the Freshman Seminar replacement) would be up to the student, but the classes would have a more organized layout to help lead the student to the right career path.

Paper 3 Draft: A Modern Day Aristotle

Evans 1

Lindsey Rae Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

24 March 2014

A Modern Day Aristotle

For years comedians have included satire within their performances to poke fun at societal behavior.  One comedian, though, stands above the rest in this matter.  With his show The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert relies upon satire alone to entertain his audience.  From stories about gay rights to the government budget, Colbert’s witty sense of humor paired with a satirical political news show make him a legend of rhetoric.  One piece in particular, titled “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” shows off many of Colbert’s talents at once.  As suggested from the title, the piece hilariously criticizes Sarah Palin and her political agenda.  Throughout the five minute clip, Colbert uses several rhetorical figures and a logical fallacy to make his point known.  He touches upon American commonplaces to capture his audience.  He even uses satire to explain the meaning of satire!  Without a doubt this example of Stephen Colbert’s work displays excellent use of satiric rebuttal and is worth an extensive rhetorical analysis.

In “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” Stephen Colbert pulls out several rhetorical figures and even a logical fallacy during his coverage of the story.  In the very beginning of the piece when Colbert is discussing Sarah Palin’s recent speech at a Tea Party Convention, he uses the figure of speech which author Jay Heinrichs calls “[twisting] a cliché” (218) in his book Thank You for Arguing.  Colbert adapts the well-known phrase “No taxation without representation” to ridicule the Tea Party Convention’s profit gain by adding the words “But there is a two drink minimum” to the end.  Not only does the use humor make the scenario memorable,

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but it also uses popular belief to show the hypocriticalness of the Tea Party’s actions.  Colbert continues his story by combining another figure with a logical fallacy.  During her speech, Sarah Palin ridiculed President Obama for his use of a teleprompter while she herself wrote notes on her hand to remember key points.  Colbert uses what Heinrichs calls the figure of “[inventing] new words]” (219) when he refers to Sarah Palin’s use of a “hand-o-prompter” to win favor with the audience.  At the same time, Colbert applies the logical fallacy of a false comparison (specifically reductio ad absurdum) when he shows the audience that he has labeled his thumb “thumb” in marker to remind him that it is there.  Though in Thank You for Arguing Heinrichs refers to logical fallacies specifically as “sins,” (145) Colbert uses what would normally be considered bad logic to actually prove that his is sound.  By pretending to agree with Sarah Palin’s points through absurd reasoning, Colbert is using Palin’s own actions to display their absurdity.  Again, through humor, Colbert shows the hypocrisy in Palin’s argument without stating it directly.

Like any good rhetorician, Stephen Colbert also draws upon his audience’s commonplaces to help gain their favor and drive home his point.  For example, though Stephen Colbert pretends to be the rightmost of all Republicans, the show is essentially geared towards a Democratic audience.  He uses satire to deliver what is actually a “fake” newscast in the sense that the views he expresses are often the opposite of what he believes.  The show, therefore, often criticizes Republican spokespersons- such as Sarah Palin and later Rush Limbaugh- and defends leaders of the Democratic party- such as Barrack Obama.  Colbert incorporates the Democratic viewers’ image of Sarah Palin as a poor and even unintelligent diplomat into his speech to win the audience over to his side of the argument.  By insulting Sarah Palin’s skills in politics, Colbert is subtly ingratiating himself into the collective by applying the identity strategy.  By shunning those who see Sarah Palin as a great leader from the rest of the group,

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Colbert actually brings his fans closer in a kind of tribal unification.  Colbert is a master of irony, which Heinrichs defines as “saying one thing to outsiders with a meaning only revealed to your group” (237).  While Colbert’s utter mockery of Sarah Palin is hard to miss, fans of the show feel a kind of unconscious connection to the words because they “get” the true message.  Overall, this coinciding of values makes the audience form a common identity, thus making viewers more susceptible to Colbert’s persuasion tactics.

However, despite all of the rhetorical strategies Stephen Colbert incorporates into his piece “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” no greater satiric genius is displayed than through his explanation of satire through satire.  Towards the end of Colbert’s report, he discusses Sarah Palin’s call for the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel after he called liberal Democrats “f-ing retarded.”  At the same time, however, Palin defended right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh after his use of the same words in what she refers to as “satire.”  Upon watching the clip of Limbaugh, it can clearly be seen that the language was not used in such a way, yet Palin continuously demanded that Limbaugh’s words are being taken out of context.  In a stroke of rhetorical genius, Colbert uses Palin’s own words against her by taking them literally, and thus reducing her argument to absurdity.  Colbert explains to the audience in his false Republican guise that Sarah Palin has the acute sense of hearing to pick up on Limbaugh’s extremely subtle distinction before repeating the clip of Limbaugh to allow the audience to see the complete lack of such a comparison.  Colbert states that he agrees with Sarah Palin in that it is okay to call someone a “retard” as long as you do not mean it.  To finalize his point, Colbert says that true backers of Sarah Palin should all show their support and say proudly that “Sarah Palin is an f-ing retard.”  This ingenious form of insult solidifies Stephen Colbert’s rhetorical superiority over Palin, capturing the full support of his audience.

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Overall, it is clear that Colbert’s rebuttal of Sarah Palin was a success- at least in the eyes of his targeted audience.  Colbert’s skilled inclusion of rhetorical figures and his logical fallacy display not only his sophisticated wit- which make the statements memorable- but also his superb rhetoric ability- which make them logical.  The comedian’s appeal to his viewers through value commonplaces brings the speaker and listeners to a closer, more personal level of understanding.  This not only solidifies trust in Colbert, but also gives viewers a sense of group belonging, making them more inclined to persuasion.  Furthermore, Colbert’s explanation of satire through the use of satire displays his extensive understanding of the workings of rhetoric, eliminating any doubt of his argument’s credibility.  Each of these strategies, paired with Colbert’s near perfect delivery of the information, makes the report agreeable to viewers and leaves them sufficiently persuaded.  In today’s world where rhetoric has become the lost art of the ancients, Stephen Colbert is bridging the gap and will without a doubt be remembered as one of the great rhetoricians of the 21st century.

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Works Cited

Heinrichs, Jay. Thank You for Arguing. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.

“Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter.” The Colbert Report. Colbert Nation, 9 Feb. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/mtoffp/sarah-palin-uses-a-hand-o-prompter>.

Paper 3 Outline: Rhetorical Analysis of a Satiric Work

Outline for “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter” from The Colbert Report

  1. Introduction
    1. Overview of the piece
    2. Rhetorical strategies
    3. Commonplaces
    4. Overall message
  2. Logical Fallacies and Rhetorical Figures
    1. Twisting a cliché
    2. Reductio ad absurdum
    3. Inventing new words
    4. Taking a phrase literally
  3. Explaining Satire Through Satire
    1. Details of the story
    2. Colbert’s use of wordplay
    3. Key rhetorical victory
  4. Commonplaces and Aims
    1. Mainly Democratic audience
    2. Sarah Palin’s image against her
    3. Defends President Obama
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of thesis
    2. Viewer takeaway
    3. Colbert’s style and delivery
    4. Success of the piece

Portfolio 1 Letter of Introduction

Evans 1

Lindsey Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

3 March 3 2014

Portfolio 1 Letter of Introduction

For Paper 1, I wrote my rhetorical analysis about the United States Army Reserve commercial titled “Where Can…”  For this paper, I argued that the commercial combines aspects of patriotism with the American Dream to convince citizens that joining the Army Reserve benefits both their country and themselves.  To revise my draft, I focused mostly on wording.  After receiving comments on my first draft from the blog, I eliminated the repeat of the word “lastly” and separated the ideas of the image of war and the “Army Strong” phrase into two different paragraphs.  Then, in the new fifth paragraph, I talked more about how the commercial draws upon several ideologies at once to capture the reader.  Finally, in the second paragraph, I included a more detailed analysis of the commercial’s choice of title.

For Paper 2, I analyzed two different newscasts about Shaun White’s performance during the Sochi Olympics (one from USA Today and one from Daily Mail).  USA Today viewed White’s Olympics with utter disappointment, blaming White himself for the failure while Daily Mail blamed White’s performance on the poor conditions of the half pipe.  To revise this paper, I corrected the misspelling of the word “shear” to the proper “sheer” twice.  I made the ending of the first paragraph more specific to the news articles being discussed rather than a broad overview of media.  In both the second and fourth paragraphs, I made the introductions more concise and eliminated the popular “A picture is worth a thousand words” phrase in the latter.  Also in the second paragraph, I focused more on the newscast’s personal blame of Shaun White.

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Finally, I changed the last paragraph to focus more on loss than victory to mirror the true result of White’s Olympic Games.

Overall, I do feel as though I am growing as a writer.  The revisions have helped me to become more concise with my language, and I have learned a great deal through the passion blog postings about how to appeal to your audience.  Also, Thank You for Arguing has taught me an incredible amount about rhetoric, making me a better thinker.  I had never thought about the differences between fights and arguments before or even realized how to use tools such as ethos, pathos, and logos to win your opponent over.  English 15 has indeed helped me to become a better student on all levels of writing, grammar, and philosophy as a whole.

First Draft of “Is Fourth in the World Really That Bad?”

Evans 1

Lindsey Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

21 February 2014

Is Fourth in the World Really That Bad?

In today’s world the pressures placed on Olympic athletes are tremendous.  With the invention of television and the expansion of media came an exponential growth in both the athletes’ audiences as well as burdens.  From basketball to bobsledding, citizens of a country take a vested interest in the games and see it as a sense of national pride to perform well.  Unfortunately, though, this sense of patriotism often clouds the minds of viewers, making the games more about medal counts than shear respect for talent.  Even more unfortunately is that this attitude often leaks into the media.  One of such instances occurred very recently in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia after snowboarder Shaun White’s unexpected performance; though White finished fourth overall, his reputation for being an Olympic star made fans feel disappointed in his failure to make the medal stands.  Some news sources say White’s performance was an utter disappointment after the hype leading up to Sochi.  Others defend White, blaming his mistakes on the poor conditions of the half pipe on the day of the competition.  Two of these articles respectively are the article titled “No medal for Shaun White in Olympic men’s half pipe” from USA Today and “Team America crashes out on ‘c**p’ snow: Shaun White loses out on third half pipe gold after every U.S. snowboarder falls following concerns about course conditions” by Daily Mail.  Regardless of the stories behind an article or newscast, however, presentation is key; audiences can only interpret what editors desire them to see in their mind’s eye.

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In media as in life, words can be powerful tools.  Wars can be avoided with them, they can land you your dream job in an interview, and just four can convince a partner to say “I do.”  Words are intended to make an audience form an opinion about a topic, and news stories, no matter how factual they appear, are no exception.  In the newscast titled “No medal for Shaun White in Olympic men’s half pipe” from USA Today, the newscaster’s language depicts Shaun White’s Olympic performance as a disaster.  Even the title displays this opinion.  For example, though half of the newscast is dedicated to White’s apparent failure, the other half recaps the highlights of the day for women’s skiing and luge without any recognition in the story’s title.  Although the newscast covers more than just Shaun White, the headline only displays White’s standings to draw attention to his fall from grace.  Continuing into the story, the narrator’s specific use of words remains a prominent form of persuasion.  Though in written form the article appears as nonbiased, (using less intense verbs and adjectives such as “faltered” and “uncharacteristic mistakes”) the inflections in the newscaster’s voice convey an overall negative connotation to the viewer.  Though “faltered” appears to be a somewhat subdued word on the surface, the narrator puts great emphasis on it, making it stand out to the audience as something very important.  This happens several other times throughout the newscast, twice when describing White’s specific mistakes (“falling twice and had two bobbles in his second run”) and his late drop of the slope-style event.  In the latter, it was too late for another athlete to take White’s place, and the narrator’s tone seems to make White out to be the bad guy, as though he wanted to take the position away from another Olympian.  Similarly, though the commentator could have just said that Shaun White finished in fourth place overall- an outstanding achievement for any athlete- he quickly throws in the comment “and without a medal.”  By simply adding the conjunction “and” to the statement, the newscaster immediately wipes away the positive feelings associated with such an exceptional performance by one man facing the best

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in the world and replaces them with feelings of contempt.  One final act of persuasion in the newscast occurs at the very end of White’s coverage.  As the story switches from Shaun White’s performance to those of Devin Logan and Erin Hamlin (both medal winners in the 2014 Sochi Olympics), the commentator leads with “but there was good news for Team U.S.A” (No medal for Shaun White).  This sharp dismissal of Shaun White from the news story provides a deep contrast for the intended emotions of viewers and blatantly portrays the news story’s opinion that fourth place just was not good enough.

The second article by Daily Mail takes a different approach.  In the wordy title “Team America crashes out on ‘c**p’ snow: Shaun White loses out on third half pipe gold after every U.S. snowboarder falls following concerns about course conditions” White’s name appears at the end, almost as an afterthought to belittle the importance of the statement in the overall scheme of the piece.  The article is displaying the message that, although White is included, he is not the key emphasis of the text.  Instead, the story takes the blame from Shaun White himself (as was the case in the USA Today newscast) for the mistakes and instead places the blame on the article’s main topic: poor conditions on the half pipe.  While USA Today only briefly touched on the poor conditions of the half pipe, Daily Mail makes it the main news story.  Though Daily Mail makes several comments about White’s disappointing performance, the source ultimately defends the athlete by stating throughout the article that both American and foreign snowboarders had been commenting on the slushiness of the half pipe in advance of the event.  The article has facts spread throughout commenting on the high temperatures, the concerns of athletes, and even the steps being taken to improve the conditions.  The inclusion of such specifics is intended to make the audience more susceptible to persuasion, as they make the source seem more credible.  This is supported through various quotations from the Americans, who referred to the half pipe as “crappy,” “garbage,” and, as White said himself, “pretty hard to

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ride.”  Also, unlike USA Today, Daily Mail chooses to focus on the performances of all of the competitors in the event (specifically the Americans) rather than solely Shaun White.  For example, the article has a small section dedicated to the event’s winner, Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, and also states that “It is the first time an American has not won a medal since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.”  This fact is quickly followed with a quote from snowboarder Danny Davis- not Shaun White- that they “let America down.”  Daily Mail is trying to convey the message that, although snowboarding is an individual event, Team U.S.A. failed as just that: a team.  Furthermore, because this is a written article, the author also incorporates the use of strategic punctuation within the piece.  In the article’s very first sentence, “Shaun White has failed to defend his title in the men’s snowboard half pipe at Sochi- after he and his teammates crashed out of a course they called ‘crappy’ and ‘garbage’,” the author chose to place dashes between two very distinct ideas (No medal for Shaun White).  The first half of the sentence sounds as though the article takes a negative approach, but the dashes are followed by a different reasoning for White’s mishap.  As author Heather Holleman refers to in her book, How to Write with Flair, dashes are equivalent to “shouts.”  To her, dashes “[stop] the reader and [make] him see something important…that makes a big difference to the meaning of the sentence” (Holleman 42).  With the addition of dashes to this sentence, the author changes the audience’s perception of the events that occurred.  The author says that Shaun White did fail to defend his title, but only because the half pipe’s conditions were not up to their usual standards.  By drawing attention to the second statement, the article manages to persuade readers that the results of Shaun White’s Olympic performance were something beyond his control.

Another key tool of persuasion in the news is imagery.  As the common phrase goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  This means that an audience is impacted much more emotionally by a picture than any other form of communication.  USA Today takes advantage of

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this human trait and plays to it with a photograph montage during the newscast about Shaun White’s standings.  Instead of showing the newscaster, as many news reports these days are prone to do, this story displays only images of White.  Though there are several generic photographs of White in the air on his snowboard, slightly more than half of the images depict either White’s mistakes during his half pipe runs or his agony afterward.  Three of the pictures (including the very first image of the newscast) show White looking down at the ground.  The most prominent of these is an image of White holding his head in his hands after a run.  To the reader, this simple glance and the body language from White convey a negative message of defeat, a message which the commenter bolsters with his narration.  Furthermore, after the series of sorrowful images, the story’s pictures take a turn just as the mood does.  When discussing the medal wins by Devin Logan and Erin Hamlin, the pictures are noticeably much cheerier.  Snapshots of fumbles and frustration are replaced by images of successes and celebrations, thus solidifying the audience’s perceived views of victory and defeat, winners and losers (No medal for Shaun White).

Yet again, however, Daily Mail prefers to show the images from a different angle.  Although the same exact photograph of White holding his head in his hands is displayed in this article, the image is joined by images of both Danny Davis and Gregory Bretz, two other American snowboarders, frustrated by falls during their runs.  By including these two other images and by displaying White’s image only afterwards, Daily Mail plays on the idea that we are only human.  This technique is also used earlier in the piece where a picture of White’s fall is followed immediately by those of his teammates.  Daily Mail then continues its happier approach to the events at Sochi by showing pictures of sportsmanship as Shaun White embraces gold medal winner Iourdi Podladtschikov after the scores are announced.  These images, in combination with photographs of Podladtschikov celebrating with his family, leave the reader

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feeling a great deal more positive about the events at Sochi as the article approaches its conclusion (Warren).

What is it that defines a winner?  Though this seems like a relatively straightforward question, take a moment to think about the many different definitions for this word.  Some people take a dictionary approach and base it solely off of an athlete’s records.  Some people see it as sportsmanship.  And still, some people describe it as shear effort and determination.  In short, victory has many meanings for different people, making two newscasts about a single event appear very distinct from one another.  Shaun White’s Sochi Olympics are a perfect example of one of such cases.  From USA Today’s point of view White’s performance at the games is something to be forgotten.  On the other hand, Daily Mail defines the moment as a learning experience.  Though both newscasts discuss the same exact event, the emotions and conclusions drawn from the audiences could not have been more different.  USA Today’s article leaves readers feeling angry with Shaun White for letting down his country while Daily Mail allows readers to sympathize with his mistakes under the circumstances.  In the end, however, it is up to the audience to use its own personal values and beliefs to decipher the facts and decide for itself which article’s judgment is right and which is wrong.

Evans 7

Works Cited

Holleman, Ph.D., Heather. How to Write with Flair. Charleston: 2011. 42. Print.

No medal for Shaun White in Olympic men’s halfpipe. USA Today, 2014. Web. 19 Feb 2014.

<http://www.usatoday.com>.

Warren, Lydia. “Team America crashes out on ‘c**p’ snow: Shaun White loses out on third half

pipe gold after every US snowboarder falls following concerns about course conditions.’

Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 11 Feb 2014. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk>.

Second Draft of “Where Can…”

Evans 1

Lindsey Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

21 February 2014

Where Can…

“Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”  These were the words spoken by President John F. Kennedy on September 5, 1960 during a speech in Detroit, Michigan.  Though, at the time, the President was referring to the “New Frontier” of space, this popular phrase has been applied to nearly all aspects of patriotism (“Kennedy’s New Frontier”).  From paying taxes to starting a business, the betterment of the United States has always been a deep-seeded value of Americans.  Unfortunately though, this goal has sometimes clashed with a separate value geared toward self-improvement: the American Dream.  In a recent United States Army Reserve commercial titled “Where Can…,” writers play on these aspects of American culture, showing that the two values can sometimes be one in the same.  By winning over the hearts and minds of the audience, wiping away negative connotations, and playing to the American sense of pride in one’s country and honor for self-sacrifice, “Where Can…” shows civilians that they can heroically serve their country without the sacrifice of a successful life.

The first challenge of “Where Can…” was to show civilians that a career in the United States Army Reserve would not have to mean putting their lives on hold.  In the commercial, both a marketing administrator and a doctor are shown trading in their work clothes for the uniform of a soldier.  During the transition, the commercial asks the audience “Where can a marketing administrator be a watercraft engineer?” and “Where can a doctor serve his community while also treating patients around the world?” (U.S. Army).  Each of these questions

Evans 2

shows the audience that the man and woman supposedly switching careers are actually performing the same tasks they would during their current jobs.  Neither had to give up doing what he or she loved, nor do the positions appear any less rewarding than the originals.  The commercial continues by showing a student placing a helmet on his head while asking “Where can a student stay in school while expanding his education beyond the classroom?” (U.S. Army).  This statement continues to bolster the idea that the Army Reserve is not the end of a journey, but the beginning.  As the commercial draws to a close, the narrator finalizes the capturing of the audiences mind with the statement that “In the U.S. Army Reserve you’ll find the strength to develop new skills and gain an edge to get ahead” (U.S. Army).  Overall, the words of the commercial are a key rhetorical tool for the writers.  By appealing to the logos of the audience, the U.S. Army Reserve shows that it can open doors to new possibilities and give recruits an advantage over competitors in any career field.  This idea coincides with the American Dream by making the audience feel as though they themselves would greatly benefit from a career in the military while still contributing to the betterment of the United States by making a difference as a soldier.

The U.S. Army Reserve, however, could not simply state these facts to the audience and gain the same level of success.  Instead, the writers had to elicit trust from the audience.  This is done in several different, yet very subtle ways contributing to the ethos displayed in the advertisement.  First, the characters chosen for the commercial were not selected at random.  A marketing administrator- a highly elite member of the business class- and a doctor- an extremely prestigious member of society- both embody people of stature in the community.  The characters remain relatable to the audience, for they exist as hard-working everyday Americans, but they also convey a sense of authority in their respective fields.  The commercial essentially tries to show that if civilians with careers as prestigious as these are willing to make the switch to a

Evans 3

uniform, why would anyone, regardless of their own career, say no?   The characters are also made to be diverse (a Caucasian female marketing administrator and an African American male doctor) to broaden the scope of the commercial’s audience, making it relevant to any American regardless of gender, skin color, or ethnic background.  The next appeal to the audience is done so using a celebrity endorsement.  The narrator of the commercial, Gary Sinese, holds an incredible ethos.  With roles in Apollo 13 and CSI: New York, Sinese has shown affluence in film and television for years.  However, for this particular commercial, Sinese’s role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the famous film Forrest Gump makes the audience more inclined to listen (“Forrest Gump (1994) Full Cast and Crew”).  Though Sinese was never a solder in Vietnam and could never relate to veterans on the subject of true battle, Sinese’s role as a soldier gives viewers an unconscious trust towards his words.  Despite the fact that Gary Sinese has never been and never will be a member of the United States Army Reserve, his mere endorsement of their cause is enough to grab the attention of viewers and hear out just what the commercial is trying to say.

The final challenge of “Where Can…” was to win over the hearts of the audience.  To do this, the U.S. Army Reserve drew on several different American ideologies and utilized the rhetorical strategy of pathos.  To explain, it is very common in today’s society to find opposition to the idea of a military.  Though great respect is shown for soldiers and veterans, the idea of war often turns people’s eyes and hearts away from the idea of service.  “Where Can…” plays on this not only American, but universal detest for war by eliminating it from the advertisement completely.  There is no display of a bullet-ridden war zone, no scene of the horrible injuries sustained by a soldier after an attack, and no use of weaponry at all.  In fact, graphic scenery of any kind is simply avoided, replaced by acts of science and diplomacy.  The engineer is a creator, fixing and inspecting her ship.  The doctor is a healer, providing care for the sick no

Evans 4

matter the patient.  Lastly, the student is a diplomatist, engaging in what seems to be peaceful talks with locals.  Instead of focusing on the public’s negative connotation with military action the commercial highlights acts of heroism, calling on the American values of patriotism and honor.  This emotional appeal is further emphasized by the inspirational background music for the commercial, giving viewers chills as they hear the familiar regal tune associated with a world power for good.

In one final act of persuasion, the U.S. Army Reserve pulls out its most powerful phrase, the famous ending to any Army commercial that “There’s strong, and then there’s Army strong” (U.S. Army).  These seven words have a profound impact on viewers.  The phrase acts as a bridge between the symbolic heroism of the uniform of a soldier and the aspect of the American Dream valuing the feats of strength and power.  By separating the United States Army from the adjective “strong,” the commercial conveys the message that the Army transcends bravery to the point of something superhuman.  This not only plays to the idea that soldiers are heroes, but it also gives viewers the sense that by joining, they too can reach another level of superiority, an essential aspiration of the American Dream.  With one simple sentence, the Army solidifies its place in the hearts of its audience, raising within them a call to act.

It has long been an American belief that the greatest honor of all is to serve your country.  Countless books, films, songs, and even video games have been created depicting the valor of soldiers and, at times, even glorifying the idea of war.  However, these are merely dramatizations for viewers.  Things in the real world are very different; it therefore makes sense that the U.S. Army Reserve’s advertising methods must also be different.  Commercials for the Army- or any military branch for that matter- are not trying to get customers to buy their product or purchase a service.  They are asking viewers to make a life choice, something most people are not comfortable making.  The U.S. Army Reserve commercial had to prove to Americans that by

Evans 5

becoming soldiers, they could make a difference within their own lives as well as for the United States.  Only by winning the audience’s minds, trust, and admiration could it show viewers that joining would be the logical and patriotic choice.  In my opinion, the Army Reserve commercial is an excellent example of the powers of rhetorical persuasion.  Through logos, ethos, pathos, and the use of American ideologies, the Army Reserve shows civilians that they can heroically serve their country without the sacrifice of their careers.  In just 29 short seconds, “Where Can…” not only captures the ideals of a nation, but also the desires of its people.

Evans 6

Works Cited

 “Forrest Gump (1994) Full Cast and Crew.” Internet Movie Database. Internet Movie Database.

Web. 8 Feb 2014. <http://www.imdb.com>.

“Kennedy’s New Frontier.” U.S. History Pre-Columbian to the New Millenium. Independence

Hall Association. Web. 8 Feb 2014. <http://www.ushistory>.

U.S. Army, prod. U.S. Army TV Spot For Where Can…. iSpot.tv, Inc., 2013. Web. 8 Feb 2014.

<http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7kEn/us-army-where-can>.

“Synopsis for Forrest Gump (1994).” Internet Movie Database. Internet Movie Database. Web. 8

Feb 2014. <http://www.imdb.com>.

 

Outline for Paper 2

News Regarding Shaun White’s Sochi Olympics

  1. Introduction
    1. Pressures placed on Olympic athletes
    2. Bias of media
    3. Shaun White’s official  standings in Sochi
  2. Word Choice
    1. Titles of the news stories
    2. Video announcer’s inflections
    3. Diction and Syntax
  3. Imagery
    1. Picture choices
    2. Feelings conveyed to the audience
    3. Comparison within video to other athletes’ performances
  4. Conclusion
    1. Reflection on news story differences
    2. Impacts of differences for audience
    3. Restatement of thesis

II will most likely be split up into more than one body paragraph depending on the amount of information available.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2557024/Team-America-crashes-c-snow-Shaun-White-loses-half-pipe-gold-US-snowboarder-falls-following-concerns-course-conditions.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/sochi/2014/02/11/snowboarding-halfpipe-shaun-white-ayumu-hirano/5385567/

First Draft of “Where Can…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”  These were the words spoken by President John F. Kennedy on September 5, 1960 during a speech in Detroit, Michigan.  Though, at the time, the President was referring to the “New Frontier” of space, this popular phrase has been applied to nearly all aspects of patriotism (“Kennedy’s New Frontier”).  From paying taxes to starting a business, the betterment of the United States has always been a deep-seeded value of Americans.  Unfortunately though, this goal has sometimes clashed with a separate value geared toward self-improvement: the American Dream.  In a recent United States Army Reserve commercial titled “Where Can…,” writers play on these aspects of American culture, showing that the two values can sometimes be one in the same.  By winning over the hearts and minds of the audience, wiping away negative connotations, and playing to the American sense of pride in one’s country and honor for self-sacrifice, “Where Can…” shows civilians that they can heroically serve their country without the sacrifice of a successful life.

The first challenge of “Where Can…” was to show civilians that a career in the United States Army Reserve would not have to mean putting their lives on hold.  In the commercial, both a marketing administrator and a doctor are shown trading in their work clothes for the uniform of a soldier.  During the transition, the commercial asks the audience “Where can a marketing administrator be a watercraft engineer?” and “Where can a doctor serve his community while also treating patients around the world?” (U.S. Army).  Each of these questions shows the audience that the man and woman supposedly switching careers are actually performing the same tasks they would during their current jobs.  Neither had to give up doing what he or she loved, nor do the positions appear any less rewarding than the originals.  The commercial continues by showing a student placing a helmet on his head while asking “Where can a student stay in school while expanding his education beyond the classroom?” (U.S. Army).  This statement continues to bolster the idea that the Army Reserve is not the end of a journey, but the beginning.  As the commercial draws to a close, the narrator finalizes the capturing of the audiences mind with the statement that “In the U.S. Army Reserve you’ll find the strength to develop new skills and gain an edge to get ahead” (U.S. Army).  Overall, the words of the commercial are a key rhetorical tool for the writers.  By appealing to the logos of the audience, the U.S. Army Reserve shows that it can open doors to new possibilities and give recruits an advantage over competitors in any career field.  This idea coincides with the American Dream by making the audience feel as though they themselves would greatly benefit from a career in the military while still contributing to the betterment of the United States by making a difference as a soldier.

The U.S. Army Reserve, however, could not simply state these facts to the audience and gain the same level of success.  Instead, the writers had to elicit trust from the audience.  This is done in several different, yet very subtle ways contributing to the ethos displayed in the advertisement.  First, the characters chosen for the commercial were not selected at random.  A marketing administrator- a highly elite member of the business class- and a doctor- an extremely prestigious member of society- both embody people of stature in the community.  The characters remain relatable to the audience, for they exist as hard-working everyday Americans, but they also convey a sense of authority in their respective fields.  The commercial essentially tries to show that if civilians with careers as prestigious as these are willing to make the switch to a uniform, why would anyone, regardless of their own career, say no?   The characters are also made to be diverse (a Caucasian female marketing administrator and an African American male doctor) to broaden the scope of the commercial’s audience, making it relevant to any American regardless of gender, skin color, or ethnic background.  The next appeal to the audience is done so using a celebrity endorsement.  The narrator of the commercial, Gary Sinese, holds an incredible ethos.  With roles in Apollo 13 and CSI: New York, Sinese has shown affluence in film and television for years.  However, for this particular commercial, Sinese’s role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the famous film Forrest Gump makes the audience more inclined to listen (“Forrest Gump (1994) Full Cast and Crew”).  Though Sinese was never a solder in Vietnam and could never relate to veterans on the subject of true battle, Sinese’s role as a soldier gives viewers an unconscious trust towards his words.  Despite the fact that Gary Sinese has never been and never will be a member of the United States Army Reserve, his mere endorsement of their cause is enough to grab the attention of viewers and hear out just what the commercial is trying to say.

The final challenge of “Where Can…” was to win over the hearts of the audience.  To do this, the U.S. Army Reserve drew on several different American ideologies and utilized the rhetorical strategy of pathos.  To explain, it is very common in today’s society to find opposition to the idea of a military.  Though great respect is shown for soldiers and veterans, the idea of war often turns people’s eyes and hearts away from the idea of service.  “Where Can…” plays on this not only American, but universal detest for war by eliminating it from the advertisement completely.  There is no display of a bullet-ridden war zone, no scene of the horrible injuries sustained by a soldier after an attack, and no use of weaponry at all.  In fact, graphic scenery of any kind is simply avoided, replaced by acts of science and diplomacy.  The engineer is a creator, fixing and inspecting her ship.  The doctor is a healer, providing care for the sick no matter the patient.  Lastly, the student is a diplomatist, engaging in what seems to be peaceful talks with locals.  Instead of focusing on the public’s negative connotation with military action the commercial highlights acts of heroism, calling on the American values of patriotism and honor.  This emotional appeal is further emphasized by the inspirational background music for the commercial, giving viewers chills as they hear the familiar regal tune associated with a world power for good.  Lastly, in one final act of persuasion, the U.S. Army Reserve pulls out its most powerful phrase, the famous ending to any Army commercial that “There’s strong, and then there’s Army strong” (U.S. Army).  These seven words have a profound impact on viewers.  The phrase acts as a bridge between the symbolic heroism of the uniform of a soldier and the aspect of the American Dream valuing the feats of strength and power.  By separating the United States Army from the adjective “strong,” the commercial conveys the message that the Army transcends bravery to the point of something superhuman.  This not only plays to the idea that soldiers are heroes, but it also gives viewers the sense that by joining, they too can reach another level of superiority, an essential aspiration of the American Dream.  With one simple sentence, the Army solidifies its place in the hearts of its audience, raising within them a call to act.

It has long been an American belief that the greatest honor of all is to serve your country.  Countless books, films, songs, and even video games have been created depicting the valor of soldiers and, at times, even glorifying the idea of war.  However, these are merely dramatizations for viewers.  Things in the real world are very different; it therefore makes sense that the U.S. Army Reserve’s advertising methods must also be different.  Commercials for the Army- or any military branch for that matter- are not trying to get customers to buy their product or purchase a service.  They are asking viewers to make a life choice, something most people are not comfortable making.  The U.S. Army Reserve commercial had to prove to Americans that by becoming soldiers, they could make a difference within their own lives as well as for the United States.  Only by winning the audience’s minds, trust, and admiration could it show viewers that joining would be the logical and patriotic choice.  In my opinion, the Army Reserve commercial is an excellent example of the powers of rhetorical persuasion.  Through logos, ethos, pathos, and the use of American ideologies, the Army Reserve shows civilians that they can heroically serve their country without the sacrifice of their careers.  In just 29 short seconds, “Where Can…” not only captures the ideals of a nation, but also the desires of its people.

Works Cited

 “Forrest Gump (1994) Full Cast and Crew.” Internet Movie Database. Internet Movie Database. Web. 8 Feb 2014. <http://www.imdb.com>.

“Kennedy’s New Frontier.” U.S. History Pre-Columbian to the New Millenium. Independence Hall Association. Web. 8 Feb 2014. <http://www.ushistory>.

U.S. Army, prod. U.S. Army TV Spot For Where Can…. iSpot.tv, Inc., 2013. Web. 8 Feb 2014. <http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7kEn/us-army-where-can>.