Tuesday, February 16, 2010


While I was checking my email on Aol.com, 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.


1 comment:

  1. Fox News tends to do that with their online stories, just like the article in class we discussed with the health care debate and the picture of the "Operation" boardgame. When I looked at the pictures accompanying the article, they also had little to do with the actual story. Not that they could've actually shown rape, but they could've had an image of the makeshift camps mentioned.