With the advancement of technology and the accessibility of information, we as consumers of media are arguably too quick to trust the information we find at our fingertips. Using Internet websites as an example, the human condition to trust can also play an important role in how we view politicians and their rhetorical tactics today. In consideration to Jamieson’s text, we as a class discussed the nature in which an audience creates their own authority in viewing the credibility of a source or a speaker, and how that thus determines the trust they have in them.
In trusting a political figure, one would have to discern the credibility of not only the speaker but also the substance of their argument. Knowing that substance is often diluted to fit what the audience wants to hear, politicians must also utilize the style in which they speak to persuade their audience into believing their facts. The rhetoric in speaking was analyzed with the help of Will Stephen’s TedX, “How to Sound Smart in Your TedX”, in which he spoke with no actual content but was able to invoke ethos, pathos, and logos in the manner in which he spoke. Thus, a speaker’s authenticity depends on how rhetorically charged their speech is and how they link evidence with their argument. As a class, it was agreed that though there was a difference between substance and preparedness, both substance and style are intertwined.
Another particular example given to the class was the website, martinlutherking.org. Being only the fifth search down, one could easily access this website while doing a Google search. Crazily enough, further research into the website shows that the website is hosted by a white supremacist group. This rises up the question as to why we are so easily persuaded by third party sources when we are so reluctant to trust a direct source or educated authority. As a result, class discussion surrounded possibilities of the factors of accessibility, mobile technology, and the diffusion of authority. We conceded that the pace of today’s society and interactions with educated personnel that give rise to suspicion have allowed us to place ourselves in positions of authority to judge based on our own beliefs what is truth and deception. This unfortunately can create what Jamieson calls “knowledge enclaves”, whose inhabitants begin to use their opinions as facts in arguments and measurements of trust.
As a result, media as a linkage institution changes the political sphere of our daily lives. As mentioned in Jamieson’s text, there is a tendency to rely on information similar to our beliefs. The question now was whether it was healthy to only surround yourself with people of your own political identification. Though it is preferable to be among like-minded people because of the ease in which ideas could be integrated and communicated, as a class we noted the importance of the diversity in ideologies when developing your own beliefs. An interesting point about media was made, in response, that our political aligning began with what we thought was truth and deception in the media. We would then use the media to express our beliefs; thus, births the content we see and influences us daily. With that, class discussion began with the art of persuading an audience, the credibility of substance in both speaker and source, and ended with further analysis of the medium in which both are transmitted.