Every time you turn on a TV to watch a sporting event you come across a collection of commentators who are in charge of providing the color and information of the game. There are many commentators that are great, not just because they are good at recognizing what the relevant facts or background information is that is pertinent at any given moment, but also because they have a particular skill when it comes to showing emotion and getting the listeners to also feel the excitement in any given game.

However, there are also a good number of commentators that I find, well, annoying. I am not going to point out any by name, but merely point out some of the things that I don’t think they do very well when they commentate. One thing that I have noticed from time to time has been in the improper use of the English language, which I think is inexcusable to a professional commentator on television. The simple distinction between when to use the words “good” and “well” are often times blurred, which I think translates into a confused public audience and in my case, frustration. A player can never play “good”, but rather in that context players can only play well. They can have good games, not well games, be good at certain things or they can do certain things well. Perhaps you guys have never noticed these grammatical errors in the professional world, or maybe you have and it just doesn’t bother you. But in my case, I would like some consistency with the English language.

Another thing that I have found irritating when listening to sports commentators is when they state the obvious, or get something obvious wrong. There are instances of professionals who, as a time filler, might just state something so obvious it is literally not even worth stating. For example, “the team’s objective is to score as many points as possible, so I think that is what they are going to do”. Duh! I find this kind of comment to be insulting to the audience, and I think it would be better to say something new and refreshing to fill time rather than waste my time with comments like that. Further, there have been times when a coach on the field calls to review a play, and the commentators often time analyze it and say how they think it will be called but have been completely incorrect. This doesn’t bother me as much as the prior pet-peeves, but I think it is worth noting that if they are going to predict a call-reversal, they should make good arguments and consider all angles.

Overall, I have a deep respect for what these people do. It is very difficult to provide commentation of a game or an event in a way that keeps everyone interested, to maintain a sense of professionalism and presence, to represent not just themselves but the station and sports world in general, and I could only imagine how difficult it would be to never make a mistake while on the job, like this unfortunate newscaster below. (Caution, video may be slightly inappropriate – but offers a great example of a commentation mistake that could end a career).

In your experiences listening to commentators, have you noticed any of the things that I have discussed above? Also, what are your thoughts on the the newscaster in the video above – did he save himself with the apology or should he be fired?

Kevin Schneider


Crime – Appealing to the Public

As advancements in technology have increasingly played a bigger role in society over the course of the last century, appealing to the public through means of the internet, television, radio, etc. has played a significant role in fighting crime and catching criminals.

Everyday now we see stories in the news, whether it be online or on television or over the radio, that are designed by law enforcement to inform the public on certain crimes and to appeal to the public to help solve unsolved crimes. Many of these stories are made to target the emotions of the reader or listener in hopes of influencing them to either come forward with information leading to a crime or to help fight crimes that are becoming increasingly detrimental to society. The advancements in technology that have led to these stories being much more widely publicized can be seen as a new form of public address, one that has come to play a significant role in fighting crime.

The growing role of technology in public address is one that cannot be ignored as it has transformed many aspects of our society for the better, particularly by reducing crime and solving unsolved crime.

Brendan Fell

Mightier than the Sword

Among the many challenging courses that I have taken at Denison, one which stands out was a seminar on “Iraq Post-2003” which was meant to be an overview of the events which transpired in the wake of 9/11 pertaining to relations between the US and Iraq, culminating in the invasion and the horrendous aftermath.  To this day, the content that I am still able to recall from the course, the readings that are still somewhat clear-ish in my mind, were from the book Baghdad Burning written by Riverbend. I have chosen to write about it here in the context of blogging as public address because (drumroll please) Baghdad Burning was originally written as a blog and was so successful and well-read that it was published as two books -volumes I and II.

This blog, which is online to this day (was last updated in October of 2007) is a shining example of blogging as public address.  It is authored by a woman who was 24 years old at the time of the attacks and worked in IT.  As her country, city, and life crumbled around her in the wake of the American invasion, she found a way to vent her emotions by blogging under the alias “Riverbend”.  Though she admits that she did not know at first who would ever read her blog or what direction it might take, she managed to make a rhetorical situation out of a war.

What dominates the blog is a first-hand account of life in Baghdad from a true Baghdadi individual.  She describes the horrifying changes to daily life, how she lost her job because it was no longer safe for women to leave home unattended by a man, how terrified civilians were not only of “insurgents” but of the American soldiers who, unable to tell friend from foe, would often terrorize civilians even in their homes.  At first, there were doubts voiced by her readers that she was even Iraqi at all -her English is, after all, quite perfect, and most Americans wouldn’t expect this kind of account from an Iraqi woman.

Soon enough, however, the blog became a window by which American readers could observe the happenings in Baghdad depicted not by journalists or politicians but by a civilian.  The rhetorical situation became the cultural misunderstanding which was rampant between Iraqis and Americans.  She explained what life was like in Baghdad before the war and what had changed, often praising the spirit of the American efforts while deriding certain methods.   She offered explanation for Iraqi actions and opinions, providing enough cultural context that her readers could understand the significance of certain events.  For example, when American forces cut down the trees which lined the median of the road leading from the city to the major airport for “security reasons”, she explained the outrage by detailing the significance of those trees to national and religious history.  When most of America read or heard that a university’s library had been demolished among half-a-dozen other buildings, those who read Riverbend’s blog were aware of the thousands of ancient relics that had been in that library as well as the position that the University had held as a point of pride in the community of Baghdad.

All things considered, I consider this blog to be the ultimate example of using blogging as a vehicle for public address.  Using only words, Riverbend was able to draw out the more sensitive aspects of a war being fought in bullets and bombs.  Rather than perpetuating violence, she created understanding, thereby definitively demonstrating that the pen is and will always be mightier than the sword.

Julia M.

Horde? Alliance? Communication?

Online gaming communities, including but not limited to World of Warcraft, allow players to redesign themselves.  By choosing your race, class, and appearance, you can reinvent yourself and the way you will be viewed by others.  You could even create something of an alter ego, giving off an impression of being one type of person, while offline you may be someone entirely different.  This is huge.  Online games offer more ways than ever for someone to become someone new.

Also, what class you choose and how you look affects how other players will view you in the gaming environment.  If you choose to make your character good at healing others, other players will see that and respond differently than they would if you were, say, carrying a huge axe.  Other players may or may not want to cooperate with someone who heads straight into a battle.  They may or may not be more receptive to keeping around someone who will heal every minor ailment.  So, if you’re looking to find other players to interact with (a guild, perhaps) you will need to take these things into consideration.  You must be conscious of what you are saying about yourself to the rest of the gaming community when you choose Horde over Alliance, or when you decide to be a Tauren instead of an Undead.  When you make these decisions, you are communicating to your online peers what sort of gamer you are, and what kind of role you would be willing to play, should they invite you to join them in their quests.

-Courtney Flynn

Anger in Politics

In everyday interactions with friends, peers, family, and strangers, anger is usually seen as a negative quality. These individuals that express too much anger are perceived as short-fused and hot-headed. This is not something that most people enjoy being around too often. According to political analysts it may seem to be the case as well in politics. In this clip, David Shuster’s (Hardball) investigates republican’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton as an angry democrat. Angry Democrat. Although Hillary is pigeonholed into this category, in contrast to what the clip shows, it seems that overall, anger can be a useful rhetorical tactic for politicians. This is a tricky situation then since anger can be used as a positive and negative quality in politics. There has to be a balance to show both power and sanity to the public voters. Anger is a powerful emotion and can thus be translated into the public viewing the politician as a powerful individual willing to do what needs to be done.

So perhaps, even if viewed negatively in everyday rhetorical situations, anger is a necessary quality for politicians. This presents some issues in how our country is then portrayed.

If these politicians are using anger as the ethos for rallying our community together and the pathos for swaying our emotions, what is that saying about how we elect our politicians? Is anger with the previous administration or current policies a necessary tool for recruiting votes or is there another successful way to use emotions to address change?

~ Sarah Theobald

Independence Day – Presidents Speech

For those of you that don’t know this is form the movie independence day. The movie is about an alien invasion on earth a few days before Independence Day. This speech takes place before a massive, worldwide attack on the aliens. And the President is aiming to bring the people together and to give them hope in this dire situation. The language of the speech is very inclusive not us including those that are present and those that are not. He includes those that are far away, and points out that while they are all different and from different places but they have a common enemy, which is one of the best ways to establish goodwill toward your audience. I found this speech to be similar to the things that Eidenmuller commends Barbara Jordan such as the use of dramatic pauses. The speech also uses very strong language to rile the people there.  And while there is no one crying, the speech is very emotional because you can see how scared all these people are, the speaker and his audience, and that as well unites them. He also throws in a little rhyming in the end. All in all a very nice speech.

-Elise Howard

Jesus, The Great Speaker

It’s the first day of class and your professor had just handed to you your syllabus for the entire semester for Public Address.  Knowing you’re limited on book money you are eager to look as to how many books you need to buy for the class.  As you look under “Books” you see that you only needed one book!  But as you begin to read into a little bit more detail, you see that the one book reads The Holy Bible.  You then ask yourself, “why would a teacher have students buy a Bible for a Public Address class? This is not a religion class.” Well, as I read my Bible throughout the semester I began to notice a lot of connections with the Bible and what we were learning in class.  I began to identify the group presentation topics in the Gospels.  There were so many techniques we’ve learned about that I was able to faithfully identify them.  In Jesus’ teachings, he shows constant examples of power Button, power line, power parable, power active, and power question.  Below are specifics of what I am talking about:

Power Button and Power Line – “But when thou prayers, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which s in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”  (Matthew 6:6)

Power Parable– “Ye are the salt of the earth….Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew5:13-16)

Power Question–“…Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?..But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-15)

The above examples are only a few, however the New Testament are full of examples of publicly addressing the people who are believers and those who are unbelievers.  His “skills” ranged from his ability to persuade those to drop whatever they were doing to follow him, including even leaving their families.  Even His way of dress (poor and humble) made a big difference in acceptance from the people because He was like them and he can relate to them.  Living in a family whom father was a lower class carpenter, by his dress and class he was able to enthuse those around him in relationship to his status and then his healing power.  Also, through his dress he was able to put more focus on his public address, or his message, rather than material things.  

What do you think?  Could the scenario in the first paragraph be legitimized? If you were in that same situation what would be your feelings?  Should that be something added to the curriculum for studying public address?

-Katelyn Johnson

Age Effecting Ethos

Despite his age, 11-year-old Birke Baehr it is an excellent example of a speaker who appropriately establishes ethos. The boy is not trying to speak as if he is an adult but is rather presenting his own experience and perseptions of the food industry. In doing so he is making himself a representative of children everywhere. This is often not the most effective was to establish ethos but because the child’s perspective on many social issues goes unheard, Baehr as representative is not alienating but instead refreshingly different. Baehr also uses humor that is appropriate to his age and to his audience. Also, the light-heartedness and innocence of his humor makes him even more appealing and supports his established identity as a typical kid. It is possible that an audience might not take him seriously because of his age, but because Baehr caters his speech to his own idenity, making it believable coming from someone of his age and not overly academic, he maintains strong ethos and delivers an effective and convincing speech.

Caroline Spence

Class President Speech

This is a video of a Denison student’s speech during his high school’s presidential election. This video, although small scale, has gathered over 11,000 views on youtube. Therefore, it lead me to consider the ways in which this speech appeals to people. This speech can be considered successful public address because of the way the speaker engages the audience and uses humor. The speaker also uses hyperbole in the context of topical issues to make light of serious issues. Although the speaker does not treat the speaking opportunity with the upmost seriousness, his casual and humorous address humanizes him and makes him more a part of the student body than someone wishing to be elevated by this position. This speech also shows how in establishing exigency and ethos, it can be a good strategy to present yourself as being just like every one else in the audience. Instead of speaking from an elevated point of view, the speaker distances himself from the serious canidates by using sarcasm and irony. The speaker actually ended up being elected class president by his peers after this speech. However, the administration would not let him serve. This result also shows the ways in which audience appeal does not necessarily mean success for a speaker’s cause.

Caroline Spence

When Poetry is Public Address

Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is one of the most famous poems of the beat generation. It is seen as the ultimate representation of the beat consciousness and concerns. In this way the poem is indeed a form of public address because it is hoping to be the present the mindset of a generation and encompass the current status quo. However, in its purely textual form, a poem cannot truly be considered a form of public address. But when a poet reads his or her own poem this is indeed a form of public address. Poems, like speeches, are  filled with ideas, opinions,  interpretations, and arguments. In its text form, “Howl” is indeed a manifesto of  a generation but it lacks a audible voice associated with a person that embodies this voice that addresses a literal audience. However, when Ginsberg reads this poem he is the embodiment of this voice and this is a powerful thing to witness. When one hears a poet read his or her own words, the message of the poem is further empowered and intensified. Often, the voice of the poet effects the interpretation of the poem. Therefore, I think that poetry can be seen as a form of public address when read out loud because when a person can hear and not just read the words, one can better understand and connect with the message.