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Public Speaking - The Essential Skill
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Have we become the "Sound Bite Nation"?Views: 708
Sep 10, 2008 8:45 pmHave we become the "Sound Bite Nation"?#

Tom Adam
I haven't posted anything here in far too long, but given the state of affairs I thought I'd toss this out for the group to comment on. As I watch the political campaigns underway, and I don't mean just our Presidential campaign, but for other offices as well, it seems that the comments candidates make that get the biggest reactions are those that, if studied for rhetorical content, are essentially meaningless.

Whether it's a (supposedly-)clever quip or an outright cheap shot, the sound bite has become king. Smart-aleck comments have replaced dialog, and issue-oriented statements take a back seat to yet another round of smarmy asides. When candidates' positions are criticized, rather than outline the logic and evidence they used to form that position, they turn around and issue an attack of their own and never address the disagreement that was raised.

When did things start to move in this direction? Why is this now so much the norm and not the exception? What, if anything, can be done about it?

Private Reply to Tom Adam

Sep 11, 2008 5:11 amre: Have we become the "Sound Bite Nation"?#

Patrick McManus
Becomming "the sound bite Nation" is only a symptom. Television is making us a more emotional nation because emotions are conveyed on Television better than rational discourse which demands attention and thought. We are rapidly becommingt a nation with a short attention span. Emotional appeal can be conveyed in a sound byte or even an single image. This reliance on emotional reaction overflows into business and daily life.

Private Reply to Patrick McManus

Sep 11, 2008 2:44 pmre: re: Have we become the "Sound Bite Nation"?#

Kevin Burns

Network television is actively seeking more emotion to feature on the 6 o'clock news. Having to watch family members respond to reporters questions after tragic events is painful - not for me but for those who are relentlessly dogged by the media in hopes of getting a sound bite. The way that television cameras are thrust into the faces of family members who have just (within hours) lost a loved one is NOT good television but, in my opinion, a blatant attempt to boost ratings of the self-serving media outlets which results in higher ad revenues. And we, the general public, seem to lap it up.

How thrusting a camera in someone's face and asking for rational discourse in the midst of mourning can be even perceived as doing something beneficial for the victims is beyond me. The news has become a ratings battle. The more sensational the higher the ratings. The higher the ratings, the bigger the ad revenue.

Courtesy and consideration for people during a difficult time is minimized and instead, "get better ratings" becomes the new mantra - get them at whatever cost. And is the media competing with other media outlets? Not so much as they are battling for ratings with the likes of YouTube. Being "scooped" by a YouTube video is embarrassing to News Directors and so the aggressiveness of the reporters and cameramen attempts to save face in their respective media outlets.

As a former member of the media for eighteen years I've turned off the television news as a result. I will choose what medium I expose myself to - it is my choice to make - not the media's.

Private Reply to Kevin Burns

Sep 11, 2008 7:10 pmre: "Sound Bite Nation"#

Patrick McManus

you are right. Television, more than any other media is constantly after the emotional moment.

This is, as I mentioned above, because TV is best at conveying emotion and very poor at covering the bigger story or the whole story. As people learn that TV is after emotions they provide emotions to gain Television attention.

Patrick McManus
The Man of many Hats

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