TOPIC 1: Political Communication & Broadcast Media

Activity 1: Changes in Television & Changes in Politics

  • Suggested Guidelines: 1) Ask students to watch the television news for a few nights, then brainstorm/discuss with them the characteristics of the television news, for example: What were the news stories about? What order did they appear in? How much attention was given to politics? 2) Introduce students to some of the changes television has undergone over the last forty years, for example, changes in technology, the growth of cable television, remote control, computer graphics, and satellite technology. 3) Watch clips from the 1960 and 1996 debates. Focusing on communication, ask students to compare and discuss differences and similarities between the two years. 4) Watch interview clips. Ask students to identify and compare perspectives. 5) Ask students to analyze, write about examples on television of the points made in the interviews.
  • Questions: What is "horse race journalism"? What is a "sound bite"? What is bias? What is a "spin doctor"? How has news coverage of politics changed over the last forty years? Do you think watching television is a good way to be politically informed? Why or why not?

Activity 2: The Message or the Medium?

  • Suggested Guidelines: 1) Brainstorm/discuss with students the reasons why political candidates might agree or not agree to debate an opponent. Focus their thinking on the purpose of political debate and the idea of image vs. message. Which do they pay attention to more? 2) Watch clips from the 1960 debate. Discuss with students why Kennedy and Nixon agreed to debate one another. What was to be gained? What was risked? Point out to students that between 1960 and 1976 there were no general election presidential debates. 3) Watch interview clips and read essays. Discuss with students the political advantages and disadvantages associated with debating. 4) Ask students to write position papers, as media consultants, to a real or imagined candidate about why that candidate should debate and about how image and message should be handled.
  • Questions: In your opinion, which is more important, a political candidate's image or message? Why?

 

TOPIC 2: Rhetoric & the Art of Persuasion

Activity 1: Logos - The Appeal to Reason

  • Suggested Guidelines: 1) Brainstorm/discuss with students how, when we wish to persuade someone of something, we go about making our appeal. After they have generated ideas, focus their thoughts on the appeal to reason. 2) Discuss with students what the terms reason, reasoning, and reasonable might mean. 3) View suggested debate clip of candidate Ross Perot. Ask students to look for evidence of a reasoned appeal. 4) Discuss with students their evidence. Introduce them to the term logos. Ask them to identify other contexts in which logos is the focus of persuasive appeal, for example, commercial advertising, parental requests, teacher requests, etc. 5) Ask students to write in support of an opinion by appealing to reason.
  • Questions: Do you think most people appeal to reason or emotion when they argue? Can you give examples? Which appeal do you think is best? Why?

Activity 2: Ethos - The Appeal to Character and Credibility

  • Suggested Guidelines: 1) Brainstorm/discuss with students how, when we wish to persuade someone of something, we go about making our appeal. After they have generated ideas, focus their thoughts on the appeal to credibility. 2) Discuss with students what the terms character, credible, and credibility might mean. 3) View suggested debate clip of candidate George Bush. Ask students to look for evidence of an appeal to character. 4) Discuss with students their evidence. Introduce them to the term ethos. Ask them to identify other contexts in which ethos is the focus of persuasive appeal, for example, commercial advertising, parental requests, teacher requests, etc. 5) Ask students to write in support of an opinion by appealing to character.
  • Questions: Do you think most people appeal to reason or character when they argue? Can you give example? Which appeal do you think is best? Why?

Activity 3: Pathos - The Appeal to Emotion

  • Suggested Guidelines: 1) Brainstorm/discuss with students how, when we wish to persuade someone of something, we go about making our appeal. After they have generated ideas, focus their thoughts on the appeal to emotion. 2) Discuss with students what the terms pathetic and emotional might mean. 3) View suggested debate clip of candidate Bill Clinton. Ask students to look for evidence of an emotional appeal. 4) Discuss with students their evidence. Introduce them to the term pathos. Ask them to identify other contexts in which pathos is the focus of persuasive appeal, for example, commercial advertising, parental requests, teacher requests, etc.
  • Questions: Do you think most people appeal to reason or emotion when they argue? Can you give example? Which appeal do you think is best? Why?