Course information and assignments for Ms. Preble's West Hills English classes

Archive for October, 2011

Murrow RTNDA speech/ rhetorical essay example


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Murrow says that Americans have “a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing

information…our mass media reflect this.” Americans today still have this allergy;

they close their eyes to what is happening in the real world and concentrate on the

worthless doings of characters on reality television shows.

PARAGRAPH 1: Discuss what Murrow says about the “built-in allergy”. 

In Murrow’s day, television was just becoming a part of American life. At that time,

serious journalists struggled to gain attention away from more frivolous programs

like The Milton Berle Show”; at one point in “Good Night and Good Luck,”

George Clooney’s character tells Murrow that he “should have worn a dress,”

a reference to Uncle Milty’s trademark schtick. Murrow notes that Americans

sit “on our fat surpluses”, complacent, because we would rather be fat and

happy than informed. His commercial sponsor at the time, Alcoa, pulled its ads

because Murrow was pursuing relevant journalism, that is, the criticism of

Joseph McCarthy. Murrow and company were left to fend for themselves,

and the journalist actually paid for the advertising dollars in order to

ensure that he could speak the truth.

PARAGRAPH 2: Discuss your feelings on the topic, including evidence

from your life, the media, history (remember SHAAAPE)

Americans still suffer from this need to be sheltered from bad news.

Our media is no longer unbiased; watch Fox News any evening and it will be

apparent that it is neither fair nor balanced. People watch the channels with which

they agree, insulating themselves from other points of view. The highest rated

television shows on the air are so-called ‘reality’ television shows, where groups

of ‘real’ people do things that are far from how real people behave. Watch

“Jersey Shore” or “Rock of Love” and it is obvious that people crave the stupid and

mindless over the informative. Obviously, most Americans prefer to remain in

the dark about what is really going on in this country. I have watched several television

shows where the most important event is embarrassing people

(“The Bachelor”, “Cheaters”). What this says about the majority of Americans is

that we prefer to numb ourselves to what’s really happening, and focus on the

trials and tribulations of other people. It makes us feel good when bad things happen

to those less fortunate, especially if it’s  “all in good fun” on a television show where

people have volunteered to be mocked. This reminds me of when the Roman

Emperor Nero fiddled while his city burned. The majority of Americans prefer

to be entertained rather than informed, and it is hurting our country.


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