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AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis: Clare Booth Luce Speech

April 28, 2020

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    As a journalist and politician, Clare Booth Luce had much to say about what she thought of as the plight of journalistic integrity in the 1960´s. However, she preludes her speech with a prudent foreword to the audience of journalists across the country. Clare Booth Luce uses this introduction to prepare the audience for her message by simultaneously praising the audience but criticizing aspects of the press, by describing the ideals of journalism in order to connect with the audience, and using interjections that create a light tone that helps to get the audience on her side.
First of all, Luce creates a juxtaposition of the state of the American press, acknowledging its virtues but also highlighting its flaws. Luce argues that the system needs widespread change, declaring that ¨¨there is much that is wrong with the American press¨ but also praises  the virtues of current American journalists, acknowledging that ¨there is also much that is right with it.¨ This juxtaposition illustrates the way in which Luce acknowledges that there are aspects of the field of journalism that are being done well. However, she also describes how there is much that is ¨wrong¨, creating a paradoxical situation. By confirming the previously held-belief of this audience of journalists that the American press is respectable, Luce is able to win their approval, but still convey her message that the press still needs much reform. Also, the exigence of this occasion is important: Luce´s overall goal was to call her fellow journalists to action by decrying the current press system. In order to navigate this difficult rhetorical situation, Luce uses her opening statements to get her audience to understand that the press isn't perfect.
    Second of all, Luce describes the essence of journalism through language that is tailored to her audience. Using her own experiences as a press worker, Luce defines journalism as ¨the pursuit of and the effort to state the truth¨, capturing the chief goal of journalism: to speak truthfully and objectively, detailing but also impacting the lives of people all over the world. Because she was at a conference speaking to a group of journalists, she appeals to their common identity and their commitment as a member of the press. By illustrating the characteristics of ¨ideal¨ journalism, she is able to establish a common ground with the journalists, most of whom agree that journalism is fundamentally about spreading truth in all aspects of society. If her audience supports her interpretation of journalism´s purpose, it musters them for later criticisms that could potentially cause offense. 
    Finally, Luce creates a lighthearted tone through informal interjections that ameliorate her serious criticisms. When reminding the audience that they have invited her to speak, she follows up with, ¨You asked for it!¨ Beyond the literal meaning of this quote, Luce utilizes this short phrase in order to create a moment of humor with her audience, which would take away from possible feelings of bitterness after her introduction. Next, when Luce acknowledges that journalism is a difficult task, she says, ¨Consequently, no audience is more forgiving (I hope) to the speaker who fails or stumbles in his own pursuit of it¨.  Using the phrase ¨I hope¨ in the middle of her sentence creates a slightly sarcastic tone that complements the emotional nature of her message. In other words, this interjection does not contribute to her argument, but it does engender a moment of relief for her audience amidst the serious discussion about the importance of the pursuit of truth.
    In conclusion, Clare Booth Luce´s introduction contains praises of the audience along with criticisms and calls for change, descriptions of the fundamental ideals of journalists, and short interjections that create an overall lighthearted tone. She uses various rhetorical strategies to fulfill her difficult task: bracing her audience for her upcoming message about how the press was failing to fulfill its duties.         

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1 Comment
  • soiree

    It´s AP LANG! That iconic class. Your essay deserves a 100%


    9 months ago