Television and the Rhetorical Analysis

Television and the Rhetorical Analysis May 9th, 1961. Newton N. Minow stands in front of a convention of the National Association of Broadcasters to give his first big speech, “Television and the Public Interest. ” Minow was appointed by President John F Kennedy himself, as the new chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). His speech directly speaks about the influence and future of broadcasting television. He refers the current programming as a “vast wasteland” and ultimately advocates programming in the public interest. (Wikipedia 1) MinoWs purpose and target audience in his speech s very clear.

As Minow states, “l intend to find out whether the community which each broadcaster serves believes he has been serving the public interest. ” (Minow 41) His target audience is the current broadcasters of the FCC and his purpose is to persuade them to serve the public interest for television. These two things are constantly reflected and connected throughout the speech. Minow conveys several arguments about the television programming at the current time and why his audience, the current broadcasters, need to focus more on the public interest.

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Minow s effective in persuading his audience by the use of his logical, ethical, and emotional appeals in his speech. Minow used logical appeal, or logos, several times in his speech. For example as Minow states, “Profit before taxes was 243,900,000 dollars, an average return on revenue of 19. 2 per cent. Compare these with 1959, when gross broadcast revenues were 1 , dollars, and profit before taxes was 222,300,000, an average return on revenue of 19. 1 per cent. ” (Minow 8) He uses these numbers and statistics to establish the financial values of television broadcasting.

Minow stresses the broadcasters cannot be too focused on the ratings and profits. As he says, “And I hope that you broadcasters will not permit yourselves to become so absorbed in the daily chase for ratings, sales, and profits that you lose this wider view. ” (Minow 59) Minow wanted the broadcastings to pay less attention to ratings and more to educational broadcasting. Minow’s choice of logos was a wise one because according to Lundsford, “audiences respond well to the presentation of facts, statistics” (Lunsford 35) MinoWs use of ethos, or ethical appeal, is evident. As

Minow states in the beginning, “When the New Frontiersmen rode into town, I locked myself in my office to do my homework and get my feet wet. But apparently I havent managed yet to stay out of hot water. ” (Minow 2) According to Everythings an Argument by, Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewics, “credibility speaks to a writer’s honesty, respect for an audience and its values, and plain likeability. ” (Lunsford 59) Minow initially states that he is the pretty much the new guy and emphasizes his credentials by saying that he has been doing his homework. In addition Minow states, “l am the chairman of the FCC.

But I am also a television viewer and the husband and father of other television viewers. ” (Minow 18) Minow here establishes more credibility and gets more personal with his audience on a deeper level using some emotional appeal. His use of ethical appeal was successful because he “emphasized his shares values with the audience. ” (Lunsford 34) MinoWs use ot emotional appeal, or pathos, is by tar the appeal ne conveys the most. For example, Minow states, “l intend to take the Job of chairman of the FCC very seriously. I happen to believe in the gravity of my own particular sector of the New

Frontier. ” (Minow 39) According to Wikipedia, “The New Frontier” was a term used by John F. Kennedy to describe the challenges facing the United States. Minow refers to the New Frontier to describe upcoming challenges and responsibilities as chairman of the FCC. Being appointed by the President himself and using some of his own phrases show that he is very serious and stern about his beliefs. Minow also states, “Is there a person in the room who claims broadcasting can’t do better? Well a glance at next season’s proposed programming can give us a little heart. ” (Minow 22) Here

Minow tries to generate emotion by challenging the audience about their choice of broadcasting. He speaks about the heart and earlier about being a husband and father to build those emotional bridges. Minow clearly has hope for the future of broadcasting television claiming that it can do better. Minow establishes great connection with his audience all throughout his speech. Beginning his speech he says, “Governor Collins you’re much too kind, as all of you have been to me the last few days. It’s been a great pleasure and an honor for me to meet so many of you. And I want to thank you for this opportunity to meet with you today. (Minow 1) He initially compliments and thanks the audience to make them feel more comfortable. In addition, Minow states, “It may also come as a surprise to some of you, but I want you to know that you have my admiration and my respect. ” (Minow 4) Here Minow displays his respect for his audience and according to Everythings an Argument, “respect is crucial in arguments. ” (Lunsford 101) In addition, Minow challenges his audience with his most famous statement, “When television is good, nothing not he theater, not the magazines or newspapers nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse.

I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland. ” (Minow 20) Minow dares his audience to pay close attention to their television. The “vast wasteland” he efers to is about the broadcasting that is going on now and how it is all Just mindless Junk.

Minow aims toward more education television to enrich the viewer’s mind. Ultimately, Minow, as Everythings an Argument describes, wants to “generates specific emotions in his audience to accept his claim. ” (Lunsford 601) and persuade his audience to take action to change broadcasting for the better. This speech clearly makes an argument for proposal. Constantly throughout the speech, Minow tries to persuade the broadcasters to take action. In 1961 in Kennedys inaugural address, he ad a famous statement , “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. (Kennedy 18) Concluding his speech Minow paraphrases his statement saying, “Ask not what broadcasting can do for you; ask what you can do for broadcasting. And ask what broadcasting can do for America. ” (Minow 65). Minow really tries to emphasize how important broadcasting is to the public. He challenges his audience to question themselves and think about what they can do to improve broadcasting television. Minow mostly speaks about the future. As Minow speaks to his audience, “There is your challenge to leadership. You must reexamine some fundamentals of your industry.

You must open your minds and open your hearts to the limitless horizons of tomorrow. ” (Minow 55) He speaks of the future because he believes in it and thinks the industry moving toward public interest is what is right in their duty. In addition, he refers to the present when he is stating the current problems of broadcasting television. For example, as Minow states, “Why is so much of television so bad? I’ve heard many answers: demands of your advertisers; competition for ever higher ratings; the need always to attract a mass audience; the igh cost of television programs; the insatiable appetite for programming material.

These are some of the reasons. ” (Minow 23) MinoWs reasons are describing the broadcasters needs for higher rating and bigger profits. He thinks the present television is bad and wants it to change for the better in the future. Overall, Newton N. Minow’s speech, “Television and the Public Interest”, is effective in persuading his audience by the use of his ethical, logical, and emotional appeals. From his credentials to his statistics, Minow has achieved to use all three different kinds of appeal. With a clear purpose, he was able to establish a strong connection within his audience.

Minow’s speech undoubtedly helped revolutionize television. According to Wikipedia, “it is counted as one of the one hundred best American speeches of the 20th century by several authorities and selected as one of the 25 Speeches that Changed the World by Vital Speeches ” (Wikipedia 2) Minow was obviously very passionate about this topic and wanted action to be done. As he stated, “Above all, I am here to uphold and protect the public interest. ” (Minow 1 1) This goes to show that MinoWs speech had a very big impact on television.


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