Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Several Tactics in "Yellow Journalism"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Several Tactics in "Yellow Journalism"

In this article, I would like to list several tactics frequently used in the "yellow journalism" that was prevalent in the Spanish American War. No matter what form it takes, i mean, like article, cartoon or advertising, these tactics, specifically rhetoric are still powerful.

1. Anaphora : the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines. This rhetoric is extremely powerful in stimulating sensation among people. Like in the "March of the Flag", in the first paragraph, four sentences beginning with "people" are side by side with eight more starting with "history" which both portray the gloriousness and mightiness of the nation. it's already very strong, however, the author doesn't stop. In the following paragraph, dozens of question marks certainly push people to think: it's our duty, obligation, glory, heritage to go into the war. No wonder, this article grasps the heart and sensation of the readers from the right beginning.

2. Antithesis : opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction. The usage of words with sharp contrast has the strong power for people to position themselves. Like in the " A War for Liberty and Humanity", in the first paragraph, " civilization against barbarism, freedom against oppression, education against ignorance, progress against retrogression" which i think definitely can stir the sensation among Americans who regard themselves as the civilized, free, educated and progressive population to save Cuban people against atrocious Spain.

3. Hyperbole : exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect. (this word is not quite appropriate here on a second thought, but i can't find another word which more precisely illustrates my point.) like both in "I Saw What Was Left"--the detailed description of those Cuban victims, and in the "Emancipators, not Masters"--the utopian portrayal about the new Cuba after the emancipator's glorious work.

4. Metaphor : implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it. As in the advertisement for "Schlitz" and several other articles, the image of undefeatable British Empire as the sun never sets and the use of "the White Man's Burden" are two examples here.

Due to my limited knowledge on this aspect, I only list four kinds of most obvious rhetoric that is used in some documents. However, in reality, there are much more that I can't name. Nevertheless, the flexible combination of different rhetoric certainly strengthens the power of the language.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A wonderful post. Anaphora, Antithesis, Hyperbole, music to my ears. The lost art of rhetoric used to be a required subject in our schools. Students studied the great classical orators like Cicero, and learned the elements of rhetoric, in the original Latin and Greek even. The elites were educated to use language articulately and powerfully, in speech and in writing. You can be sure that the speech makers arguing about the War of 1898 were all familiar with the rhetorical arts.

2/20/2006 10:02 PM  

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