A Place for Argument

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Agenda-setting and Rhetorical Framing by Semantic Proximity: A New Computerized Approach to the Analysis of Network TV News

Abstract: The present study combined agenda-setting and news framing analysis to examine a random sample of 631 presidential campaign stories from 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. It is the first study to combine the strengths of three specialized software programs (QDA Miner 1.3, WordStat 4.0, and Diction 5.0) to (a) discover the major topics in the campaign coverage, (b) identify patterns by which the topics were co-mentioned to frame each other, and (c) determine how the networks used different rhetorical styles to frame the news. The findings were presented in both tables and semantic proximity plots to visually demonstrate the framing patterns. A surprising finding was the high correlation (r = .98) between the amount of optimism (measured by Diction 5.0) in the sound bites of the presidential candidates and actual election outcomes, suggesting that sound bites are an important source of candidate information for voters.

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I’ve been thinking about this concept since yesterday — it has a few meanings, but two stand out, given recent events.

Kairos. On the face of the watch of happenstance, it’s the supreme or opportune moment. The sweet spot. The second everything falls into place and you act blessed by the stars and gods and fates themselves. No day but today, no time like the present.

But Aristotle had other designs on the idea. Even vague students of persuasion know the ethos, pathos, logos — the types of proofs. You can create an argument of character, emotion, or logic. But there’s a silent, shadowy fourth:

Kairos. Appropriateness. You cannot win, persuade, or engage without it.

It’s the time and space in which you deliver your message that makes or breaks it. We are given so many shots at this now, so many places to splay a message, so many different audiences to shoot it at.

In considering that, lies restraint. And that can be the loudest statement of all.

Filed under rhetoric composition kairos aristotle

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From Entertainment Weekly:

Author Coleridge Cook starts with the German scribe’s surreal and nightmarish 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, but instead of transforming into a giant, insect-like creature, protagonist Gregor Samsa now wakes up to find he has become “an adorable kitten.”

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Smiley: I am certain that the world is free of another gangsta. Free of another thug. On the other hand, I’m not sure that makes us any safer.

West: Justice does not come out of the barrel of a gun. It was retaliation and revenge. Is that who we are as a people? I hope not.