November 30, 2002

November search hits…

“Beltway sniper” won top honors for search hits this month on Rhetorica. “Jenny McTagarty” placed a close second. You’ll recall she is the fictional blogger Garry Trudeau created for his Doonesdury cartoon. In third place is the old standard “media bias.” Students account for the most variety in searches (most of my e-mail comes from students). They’re usually looking for information on various rhetorical terms and find their way to The Rhetorica Network through the Critical Meter.

Top searches for Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2004 are no surprise; they include: “presidential campaign,” “Al Gore speeches,” and “presidential rhetoric.”

November 29, 2002

Whither media bias?…

Paul Krugman asks: “Will the economic interests of the media undermine objective news coverage”? He raises this question (raised many times before) following Al Gore’s moment of media criticism this week.

November 29, 2002

More on Gore, media critic…

Howard Kurtz is a day late with his take on Gore’s foray into media criticism. Also included is an update of the Daschle-Limbaugh bout. What all of this demonstrates for me is that politicians shouldn’t bother themselves with media criticism. I don’t see the upside.

November 27, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you on Friday. –Andy

November 27, 2002

Google News can’t work without human editors…

Michael Kinsley says computers have gone too far. He makes the humorous case for protecting editors from the ravages of automation while allowing others–textile workers and auto workers–to be sacrificed in the name of progress. Kinsley says:

Google’s computers don’t actually gather the news. What they do is scan thousands of other Web pages and, using a secret formula, decide what the top stories are. Then they cleverly lift headlines and other material from different news sources, add links to these and other sites, and come up with what appears to be the Web site of an extremely cosmopolitan newspaper.

He says this is a bluff. I agree but for a different reason. For Google to tap into the headlines from other sites, a human editor first had to make choices at those other sites. Without humans making those first decisions, Google’s computers would be unable to do anything all. So, it seems to me, that Google’s choices are simply an amalgam of many human choices. How’s that for a great revelation?

November 27, 2002

Al Gore, media critic…

Again, I ask, where are the competent political/rhetorical advisors for the Democrats? Here’s Al Gore making his bid for the presidency all the more difficult by complaining about media bias–right-wing media bias. He says:

The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party,” said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. “Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh

November 27, 2002

Flying over the controversy…

Howard Kurtz wonders how the press missed the big story during the mid-term campaigns: The numerous state and local budget meltdowns. Kurtz asks:

So how did the media snooze their way past an issue that was hidden in plain sight? Did they fall for a conspiracy of silence among the candidates? Why didn’t they hold the politicians’ feet to the financial fire

November 26, 2002

Wrong label, wrong expectations…

Was part of the problem with the Wellstone memorial an improper labeling of the event? According to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, the correct name for what happened in the sports arena was “celebration,” not “memorial.” People tuned in to C-SPAN expecting a funeral and saw what evolved into a political rally. How might public perception have been different if another word had been used? I would argue that billing it as a “celebration” would have created an entirely different set of expectations. And, it’s not likely that Trent Lott would have attended a “celebration,” thus sparing him and the Democrats the ugliness of the crowd’s booing. In the end, I’m simply surprised the Democrats didn’t see this coming. Where was the competent political/rhetorical advice?

November 26, 2002

No sale, maybe…

It seems Al Gore’s new books are not selling well, at least according to unnamed sources in Lloyd Grove’s column. I have no idea how it’s selling. And I don’t care very much–although I find the books’ possibilities interesting.

November 26, 2002

Second hand tone…

Howard Kurtz takes a look at Joe Klein’s profile of Sen. John Kerry in The New Yorker. Klein’s reporting may set the tone for press coverage of Kerry. Kurtz cites a similar phenomenon from a Klein profile of Bill Clinton in early 1992. What I find interesting is that Kurtz does not question the idea that reporters might take their cues from The New Yorker or Joe Klein.

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