Thursday, February 25, 2010

Les Art of Pre-persuasion...

Propagandists use four specific stratagems of influence as a way to convince the general public to buy into their ideas. The first of these stratagems is called pre-persuasion. Per-persuasion is when the propagandists set the context in such a way that their idea, product, or selling point is most favorably.

According to Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson in their book Age of Propaganda, pre-persuasion "establishing how an issue is defined and discussed... a communicator can influence cognitive responses and and obtain consent without even appearing to persuade" (51).

After framing the situation to be favorable, they propagandists then work to set up the second strategy of influence: Source Credibility. In order to further pass their ideas off as favorable, the propagandists work to select favorable people, images, and situations that appeal to people. In order to be most effective, Pratkanis and Aronson say that the source chosen should be "expert and trustworthy (123). This is why a lot of companies and propagandists choose celebrities to endorse their ideas and products because they are seen as favorable in the public eye. we, as a general public, will often situate ourselves with the celebrity, and want to act as they do because we then can achieve the happiness, wealth, popularity, love, etc., that they have.

The reason why I included all of this background information is because I am trying to model the art of pre-persuasion. This past week, while watching TV, I watched a new episode of The Office. Now in the 6th season, The fictional paper company Dunder-Mifflin, who has been in financial difficulty for the entirety of the series, finally has been bought out by another company: Sabre. The two companies merge, and as Sabre takes over management, the Sabre manager makes the Dunder-Mifflin team watch the Sabre instructional video. The video describes all of the new policies that the workers must enact. The most interesting point of this however, is the fact that Christian Bale, who neither works for the company nor knows anything about selling paper, narrates the video. When the actual company owners comes to visit Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre team, the Dunder-Mifflin boss Michael Scott is sad to see that it is not indeed Christian Bale.

Though this is a fictional account, the pre-persuasion and source credibility are still played out for the viewer. The instructional video is set up to make the company and the new employees feel like they will enjoy the new policies. Christian Bale, the credible source, is important because it shows how Michael Scott was fooled into believing that Bale actually was part of the company.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


While I was checking my email on, an advertisement for the Fox News website showed on the left side of my screen. I was instantly drawn in, and clicked on the link to read the article “Police: Criminals in Haiti Raping Quake Survivors”. With Haiti being a hot ticket item in the news recently, after experiencing a horrific earth quake last month, as well as words like “Criminals” and “Rape”, the title alone was something I could not miss out on reading. However, when I read through the web page, I was quite disturbed. The article’s headline, listed at the top of the page, refers to the people performing the crime as Criminals. However, in the tagline below, they are simply called “bandits.” Next to the tagline is a large color picture of a crowd of Haitian people running though the rubble left in the streets from the earth quake. One of the men in the foreground of the picture is carrying a cardboard box, with the caption “A man runs with a box during sporadic looting in Port-au-Prince.” The other picture is of a child being carried on a stretcher with the caption being “French search and rescue workers carry a girl on a stretcher after she was pulled out from the rubble of the College St. Gerard.” I was instantly confused. To me, neither of these pictures had anything to do with criminals raping the survivors of the earth quake.
The article itself, being only five short paragraphs, is not the original full article. Fox News had taken a story by the London Times, and condensed the material, as well as changed the title. Therefore, readers of the Fox News story are only seeing what Fox News wanted to convey through their website. What is most interesting however, is the fact that very little material in the article is about any actual rape occurring. The first half of Fox’s article describes how 7,000 men from the penitentiary had escaped from the prison once the earthquake hit. The last few paragraphs describe one woman, living in a makeshift camp set up as a temporary living space for the Haitians, who “thought a rape had occurred” because she had heard men yelling outside of her tent, and saw “panties on the ground.” I was so disturbed by the article because the title clearly screams out RAPE. However, the actual information presented in the article talks very little about rape, merely speculating that the rapes are occurring. Also, I feel as though Fox News tries to draw readers in by using large colorful pictures, however, these images have nothing to do with the rape victims or criminals. I feel as though the writers of this generally considered conservative medium have used the “hot ticket” items of Haiti, “criminals,” and “rape” to draw readers in, and ask them to make assumptions of the bandits based off of only what Fox is presenting.
This article relies heavily on pre-persuasion to set up an experience for the reader to interpret the article in one specific way. Fox News wants to take control of the things that the reader will see first so by the time the reader actually reads the article, they will be predisposed to see the prisoners as rapists, and the Haitians as victims of rape, as well as victims of the other horrific events going on at this time. This article also relies on the readers emotions by making an appeal to pathos. Our society generally views rape as a terrible thing for someone to experience. Therefore, Fox hopes we will be sympathetic to the victims, and read this article. Ultimately, Fox wants us to see the situation from their point of view, and takes strides to skew the information slightly so we will be hooked into their views, and not think of questioning their credibility.,2933,584223,00.html

Friday, February 12, 2010

To blog or not to blog...'s not really a good question. I HAVE to blog for my writing class at WCU this spring semester, but I'm not really all that torn up about it. I have never been one to keep a diary, and besides my slight addiction to other social networking sites, I don't write for fun on a regular basis. As an English major, I am constantly writing, but I wouldn't always call that "fun."

So I'm going to give this a shot. Blogging should be fun, and I hope to write creatively, and perhaps inspire someone to think about something. I want to be hopeful and optimistic....

Propaganda. A word that, for me, elicits an immediate picture of a WWII cartoon drawing or a message from Uncle Sam wanting "You!" An image forced into the public eye to persuade. However, propaganda, I have learned and am continuing to see everyday, is way more complex.