Thursday, February 28, 2008

Media Sensationalism!

"While media sensationalism should by no means be construed as a well-orchestrated, dark conspiracy to "divert the public mind" from more important political issues, this frank discussion of the diversionary effect of sensational news on the public is important. Sensational news, as it spreads through the media, can easily push other issues off the front pages and out of the public's eye. Sensationalism can be pleasurable diversion, but this diverting power has political implications." -- Looking At The Sun, Sensationalism, And The Penny Press, Page 3.

It was truly amazing how the media affected everything. It was greatly influenced by all different things. The media kept trying to get the people to learn about news and to pay less attention to the important political occurances. They wanted people to enjoy media sensationalism - everything the media would bring to the public eye - and not to think of it as bad. It seemed as though the media was depowering the press of politics.

This was extremely important because it had a huge affect. This sensation was changing the subjects of front page news, maybe it was propaganda, maybe it wasn't. The quote is saying that this can be a great thing but it causes problems within politics. It kinda reminds me how in magazines or newspapers, they would rather have a celebrity on the cover instead of any person of political importance. People are more interested in those celebrities and it's kind of a shame, but sometimes it's a good thing to get a break from the political world.

Biting off more than you can chew

"On removing the earth and leaves, the shocking spectacle was presented to our view-the four quarters of a human body roasted."

The Sun, A Cannibal Feast

Tall tales were of great consumption during the early days of America and still are to a lesser extent. In The Sun's "A Cannibal Feast" American troops are lodged in New Zealand were they are confronted with an act of cannibalism that native New Zealender's inflict upon a young slave. What sticks out is the use of gaudy terms to spike up the sensationalism of the story to give it some legs. The soldiers talk at length about the disgust they underwent when they heard of the act as well as going into great detail about witnessing the body roasted as if it were cattle. For the most part this piece seems top be like the tabloid of its day. Without celebrity debutantes there needed to be tales of debauchery, cannibalism or anything that would catch the extensive readers eye.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In the 18th Century, the press served a variety of purposes that included political, local and international news reporting. It also served a purpose of simple entertainment. Mindless reading with the sole purpose of providing so called “entertainment. These pamphlets concentrated their efforts reporting crime, gossip, and in some cases, a different angle of the mainstream news. Some claimed these publications had no future and would soon disappear.

“Even before the penny papers, a popular pamphlet literature had emerged that included the chronicles of deadly crimes as well as moral tracts with lurid stories of human depravity.” Starr p.136

Fast forward to the 21st Century and these pamphlets have survived and multiplied successfully. The new “American supermarket tabloid” is alive and doing well. These papers report the stories from their own point of view, which in many cases is not authentic. The most popular of these tabloids in the United States are; Star, Sun, The Globe, The National Enquirer, and the National Examiner. I guess, as history has clearly proven, this type of “reporting” has and will always have a good customer base to support it.

Learning to Read By Frederick Douglass

In the story Learing to read by Frederick Douglass, Frederick told us his story on how his mistress taught him to read. He goes into great depth of his accomplishments and how adults all around him tryed to discourage him from getting an Education.
"The frequent hearing of my mistress reading the Bible aloud, for she often read aloud when her husband was absent, awakened my curiosity in respect to this mystery of reading, and roused in me the desire to learn."
"With an unconsciousness and inexperience equal to my own, she readily consented, and incredibly short time- had mastered the alaphabet and could spell words of three or four letters".

Apology For Printers...

In this article in The Saturday Evening Post they brought forth apologies for the "Printing". These quotes from the article stood out-"That Printers ought not to print and anything but what they approve". " That if all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed" To me they are saying that they are not to be blamed for what they print. And if they offend people on what they print then so be it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Learning how to Read....Frederick Douglass story

This is a story through the words of Frederick Douglass, explaining how his master's wife Mrs. Hugh Auld (also his mistress), taught him how to read. Douglass makes it clear that he was not treated like most slaves in the south at the time. Douglass actually states that he was "well off" compared to other slaves. Douglass goes into how he was introduced to what he calls "the wonderful art" through his "curiosity", which Mrs. Auld would "awaken" by Reading aloud when her husband was away.

"The frequent hearing of my mistress reading the Bible aloud.....awakened my
in respect to this mystery of reading, and aroused in me the desire to

Douglass also describes how Mrs. Hugh Auld's husband Mr. Thomas, when hearing about her teaching Frederick to read, was not pleased and "forbade" her to continue educating him. Fredrick said that for the first time, Mrs. Thomas "proceeded to unfold to his wife the true philosophy of the slave system".He would go on further to say:

"of course he forbade her to give me any further instruction, telling her in the first place that to do so was unlawful, as it was also unsafe,.....If you give a nigger an inch he will take an ell".

This to me was an important fact that Douglass points out because in reading this from the beginning, I was taken back by how Mrs. Hugh Auld went against the norm and taught Douglass to read during a time when African Americans were not even considered to be human. The statement that he makes in regards to Mr. Thomas, brought me back to the reality of the time and I (again) realized that our place in society was not to be "uplifted" and "educated" but to be used as free labor for America.

Don't Please Anyone.

"Not needing to please everybody" is the most important concept as far as sensationalism in journalism goes. In the midst of the whimsy of the "Life of a Newspaper", there is a very important factor of the want of sensationalistic journalism as portrayed by The Sun. Readers not being pleased is the way to keep them reading. The worst, most vulgar, embarrassing, heartbreaking, disgusting, moral wrong stories, are read the most by the majority of the public. Stories that are warm, fuzzy, and light hearted are dull to the average reader. Why? What is the reason for this? Don't people want to read things that will increase their minds scholarly? Not really.
"There, again, I became an object of interest, went the rounds of the neighborhood, and was a nine day's wonder. I am now quietly hanging up in a farmer's kitchen, from which I have written this brief memoir. I have seen much of the world, and have learned that mankind are unreasonable and ungrateful, and that in a world of great variety of taste and wises, it is impossible to please all," ("The Life of a Newspaper" 1834).

Is it true that mankind is unreasonable and ungrateful, that is why sensationalism news is most interesting to the vast majority of the population? Let's look at the facts. It's not uncommon for people these days to say, "I don't watch the world news because it is boring," or "I like news about celebrities." It looks like the same solution of 1824 still works in 2008. Interesting.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Midterm Study Question List Available on Blackboard

The midterm study questions are available in the assignments section of Blackboard. The midterm will take place in class on Thursday, March 13. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.