Climate Change and Media Essay

COMM 200, Section 1 Introduction to Communication studies Rhetoric/Media paper March 27, 2013 Climate Change Many people would agree that climate change exists and human activity is causing it. Others believe that climate change is simply a conspiracy theory. Whether people believe that climate change is occurring or that it does not exist, the topic itself is popular among society. Public communication channels such as Internet, TV, radio, magazines, books, and newspapers are responsible for communicating messages on climate change.

Throughout this paper I will analyze ways media portrays climate change by using theories in dramatism and rhetoric. The effectiveness of messages is closely connected to the type of communication channel that is used. All communication channels target a specific group, such as children or adults. It is important to keep in mind that media uses many techniques to persuade an audience to believe certain things. There are tons of artifacts on climate change, many which are created to steer someone’s opinion towards the pro side or the con side.

I chose two images from ASA, the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media. The two images depict nursery rhymes that most of us are familiar with, such as the Jack and Jill rhyme and the Rub-a-dub-dub rhyme. UK Government Act on CO2 campaign released a new version of these two nursery rhymes focusing on climate change. One began: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. There was none as extreme weather due to climate change had caused a drought. ” The second read: “Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub – a necessary course of action due to flash flooding caused by climate change”. Refer to Appendix A) The organization that published the nursery rhymes used identification. According to Griffin identification is the recognized common ground between speaker and audience (pg. 300). The organization itself in this case is the speaker and purposely used popular nursery rhymes to capture the audience attention. Most of us can recall reading at least one of these nursery rhymes when we were children. When I found the Jack and Jill rhyme transformed into a rhyme about climate change it immediately grabbed my attention because I could personally relate to the medium. Audiences sense a joining of interest through style as much through content” (Griffin, 2011, 301). Climate change propaganda is being pictured in nursery rhymes. British organizations found this to be an effective way to raise awareness because of the style. The message delivered has more meaning when people can closely relate and identify with it. This gives the organization a chance to fit into cultural mainstream and sway the audience. Chapter 23 in our text introduces the theory or dramatism and dramatism pentad.

Dramatism pentad is “a tool to analyze how a speaker attempts to get an audience to accept his or her view of reality by using five key elements of the human drama-act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose”(Griffin, 2011, 301). The act in the case of the climate change nursery rhyme would be the publishing itself, the press attention it received, and the response from the audience. The scene is the situation, which is the hype of climate change. The agent is the Government, including the ASA, which banned the rhymes from the Internet and TV.

The agency would be the methods used such as identification and persuasion through the use of popular images. The purpose was to raise awareness to climate change and persuade children and their parents to help stop climate change. The controversy around the adverts was so complex that the ASA decided to ban them from all communication channels. A journalist by the name of Paul Revoir published an article on a popular UK website called Daily mail. “Upholding the complaints, the ASA said the wording accompanying the rhymes should have used more ‘tentative’ language in both cases”(Revoir).

The language being used is part of the rhetoric and is a very efficient method. Language and choice of wording can make things have meaning and emotional appeals. The adverts were banned due to the wording and not so much the images used. The words used exaggerated climate change and were alarming for young children. “The ad was misleading because it presented human induced climate change as a fact when that was not the case”(ASA). The misleading information created a lack of ethos and pathos because there was no credibility.

The information shared on the rhymes was not scientifically correct. Media is everywhere and we use it extensively in our daily lives. The way media portrays a message can heavily influence someone’s opinion. Media channels use techniques and rhetoric theories to persuade an audience. The creators of the climate change nursery rhymes used the dramatism pentad as well and identification. When people can identify with the speaker or the publisher then it makes it easy to form a relationship and share similar views.

A target audience is also important when trying to deliver a message. Having a clear understanding of what the audience likes and what they can personally identify with can persuade them to support a certain side of an issue. Appendix A Works Cited ASA. (2010, March 17). Advertising Standards Authority. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from ASA: http://www. asa. org. uk Griffin, E. (2011). A first look at Communication Theory. New York, NY: McGrraw-Hill . Revoir, P. (2010, March 18). Mail online. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from Dailymail: http://www. dailymail. co. uk/news/article

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