Saturday, October 29, 2005

Progressive-politics theorist Lakoff: GOP has "framed" Democrats

ORIGINALLY POSTED: Saturday, October 29, 2005

By Jim Mulvihill
North Adams [Mass.] Transcript

WILLIAMSTOWN -- Among the 250 people who turned out for a lecture by political theorist George Lakoff at Williams College Thursday night (Oct. 27) were a handful of diehard Democrats who first saw Michael Dukakis speak at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, then raced up Route 2 to catch the second half of Lakoff's address in Williamstown.They may have been chagrined to find that their party's present looks a lot like its past. Lakoff spent the bulk of two hours explaining how the Republicans have secured a stranglehold on public discourse that could take years for Democrats to overcome.

Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, exploded into the mainstream this year with his book "Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate," which has elevated "framing" into a buzzword worthy of an 8,600-word feature story in The New York Times Magazine last summer.

The idea is that politics and winning elections is about framing your ideals in a way voters will identify with, regardless of whether your message is relevant, or even accurate. Thanks to the billions of dollars they've spent establishing conservative think tanks, publishing companies and even their own booking agency to maximize media exposure, Republicans have dominated this game, disseminating an increasingly focused message while Democrats struggle to define what they stand for.

''It's not an accident,'' Lakoff said. "Conservatives have turned 'liberal' into a dirty word. Over the years, what they've done is branded it.''

To illustrate how the Republicans properly frame their agenda, Lakoff pointed to President Bush's tax reform plan.

"On the first day that George Bush took office, (former White House counsel) Karen Hughes put out a press release that used the phrase 'tax relief.' A linguist looking at the phrase tax relief says, "Ah-ha! When you have a word like relief, what do we know about it? Every time you hear the word 'relief ' there is what we call a "conceptual frame."

If relief is in the works, the reasoning goes, there must be an affliction. There must also be a reliever who takes the pain away, and anyone who stands in the way of relief must be the enemy. "Add 'tax' to that and it says 'taxation is affliction,''' Lakoff said.

This kind of wording frames tax reform within the context of the Republican party's desired image as the man in charge who can get things done and protects your personal interests.

Another prime example of how the Republicans use language to their advantage, Lakoff said, is the war in Iraq. Lakoff credited Republican adviser Frank Luntz with coining the phrase "War on Terror," which helped to vaguely link the conflict to the World Trade Center terrorist attack.

"During the beginning of the 2004 campaign he sent out a memo that recommended that during the campaign, everybody will not say the 'Iraq War,' but 'The War on Terror.' And then Fox News, every time they'd put up a picture of the Iraq War, it would say 'The War on Terror.' What that did was associate 9/11 with Saddam Hussein."

According to Lakoff, a University of Maryland survey of Bush voters demonstrates the success of this strategy. "Turns out 80 percent of them believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11," he said. "Why? Luntz."

The notion that Republicans are better at sticking to talking points and spreading catchphrases is nothing new. Lakoff, however, utilizes his cognitive science background to explain why and how these methods win people over. The book's title refers to a classic challenge posed by meditation gurus to advanced students . whatever you do, don't think of an elephant. Of course, the student goes off and can't think of anything but elephants.

Lakoff uses this lesson to demonstrate how our minds naturally associate words and phrases to ideas whether we know it or not. The professor hypothesizes that there are two understandings of America . the Strict Father Model and the Nurturing Parent Model. The "strict father" is the Republican party and the "nurturing parent'' is the Democratic party.

Everyone understands both models, but people respond more favorably to the one they relate to most. Republicans capture swing voters by appealing to the part of them that trusts the "strict father" to raise an upstanding citizen.

This means using language that conjures discipline, self-reliance and tough love. Lakoff said that Ronald Reagan "gained the nation's trust because of the character he projected and not because of policies."

Democrats didn't understand why Reagan was winning when people didn't agree with his positions," Lakoff said. "Bush is doing the same thing."

If Democrats are to compete in national elections, they have to frame debates in ways that are acceptable and easily digestible to the subconscious.

"When you repeat a word over and over, people learn the word and the meaning that goes with it," Lakoff said. "Their brain has to change. Over 35 years, a lot has been said by conservatives over and over again until they become part of people's brains. This is not brainwashing. Brainwashing is done under duress. It's just ordinary, normal repetition. And it's not illegal; it's just smart."

Copyright, 2005, New England Newspapers Inc., All Rights Reserved.


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

ASSIGNMENT: Short readings to view Joe Trippi speech on Tuesday


Last night I watched a videotape of Joe Trippi's Oct. 5 speech at Williams
College and it was so relevant to the changes occurring in the media and
politics -- and to what Mike Dukakis talked about -- that I think we'll
show it in Tuesday's class instead of starting "Orwell Rolls in His

We'll spend about 15-20 minutes talking about Chapter 4 of the McChesney
book, and briefly about Dukakis, and then go to the Trippi video, which
is longer than that but we'll just stop it at the end of the class period.


To get up to speed on Joe Trippi please read his Giraffe profile:

And his Wikipedia entry:


And his personal blog bio:

And you could take a quick look at these sites:

Change for America:

And this blog post by an admirer of Trippi who suggests Trippi should get behind a constitutionalamendment for direct referenda. What are the opportunities or problems with this idea?

And if you really get interested in this, here is a link to a Dec. 2004
blog posting about an appearance by Trippi and Republican political
e-strategist Michael Turk at Harvard's Berkman Center for Law and Society:

Still more -- a long post by New York University journalism professor
Jay Rosen about Trippi's early-2004 appearance at an Internet conference in
California which dissects his arguments about the Internet and politics:

Bill Densmore, Visiting Lecturer
Berkshire Towers Room A71-L /
Tue/Thu 9:20-9:50 a.m. / and by appt.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
North Adams MA 01247
413-663-5483 / CELL: 413-458-8001

CAREER: Online opportunities make journalism�s future bright, despite gloomy feelings

In the piece:Online opportunities make journalism�s future bright, despite gloomy feelings, commentary Rich Gordon describes why he is NOT gloomy about the future of journalism. Gordon is associate professor and director of the new media program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Before coming to Medill, he was the first new media director for The Miami Herald. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was an early leader in the use of technology to analyze data for journalistic purposes.

Digital Deliverance Archive: What Obstacles Exist for Online Journalism?

In the blog column Digital Deliverance Archive: What Obstacles Exist for Online Journalism? long-time new-media analyst and participant Vin Crosbie explains what is needed to make online journalism succeed. Crosbie is part of the family which publishes a small Connecticut daily and once worked at the Delphia Internet service.

Friday, October 28, 2005

AUDIO: An audio tour of major media landmarks in New York City

Newsday's website has a fun "audio walking tour"of major media landmarks in Mahattan. It's a fun listen.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CLASS NOTES: Tues., Oct. 25

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 15:45:18 -0400
Subject: Class Notes

Tuesday October 25th, 2005
Class Notes

Recieved two handouts: 1.COPYRIGHT: Can the White House control use of presidential seal? 2.SHIELD LAW:Defintion of journalists in bill exclude bloggers?

Class Assignments:
We recieved a handout on the mid-term questions for preperation for Thursdays exam, we must select one question to write about, and will be assigned an additional two randomly.
Tuesday - Read chapter four (pgs.138-174) "Age of Hyper Commercialism". Also, spending no more than half an hour define a blogger.
Thursday - Read chapter six of (pgs.251-on) Check class blog for questions posted to stimulate.
Next week we will also start reading "The Elements of Journalism", followed by a in class quiz. Ther other required text, available from Densmore is "We the Media", for $15.00.

We then had a roundtable discussion on various questions like;
1.Who owns government property?
2.Who owns the White House seal?
3. Under what authority does the White House have to say you can't use the seal.
4. Who gets to decide what is, or isn't appropriate.
We talked about "Thomas" legislation online, and the question of are we licensing journalists?

Class Discussion

Are journalists inadequate? (Control, coverage, decisions, etc.)
McChesney design similar to bloggers with no government control.
Profit vs. News
Gossip vs. Govt. News
What is the volume of news?
Discussed what is unproffessional, calling attention to the notion. "Stir the pot".
If McChesney's mission is to reform media, is his rhetoric effective? Will it change anything?
A couple of specifics which were pointed out was in the Mchesney book pg.29 - the writings of Jefferson Adams and his letter. "The basis of our governent being the opinion of people..."

Check out:
Beat the press on channel two WGBH, the program runs one hour reviewing different press reviews, such as: lay offs at the Boston Globe & Old Herald American.

"Analysis of media coverage of the week's events. This week: the New York
Times publishes a tell all on the Judith Miller case, the Globe and Herald
face challenging business environments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

TEST QUESTIONS: Journalism Issues -- MCLA for Oct. 27, 2005


Question selections for mid-term, in-class essay exam

INSTRUCTIONS: Review these 13 questions over the next 48 hours. On Thurs.,
Oct. 27, you will have the 75-minute class period to write essay answers
to three of them. One will be a question you've chosen yourself. The other
two questions will be assigned by the instructor at the start of the exam
period. You will receive a letter grade based roughly one-third on your
writing and grammar, one third on your knowledge of our readings or
discussion of the subject, and one third on evidence of original thinking,
or independent, unassigned study of the topic. You should refer to the
posts on the . if possible. Please write on
8-1/2 x 11 inch paper and put your name and email address in the upper
right corner. SEE YOU THURSDAY!

1. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, some commentators
accused the government and the media of racial bias in their initial
cleanup and coverage of the disaster. From our discussions and your
thinking about this issue, what would you personally define as an
exhibition of racism by the government or by news organizations? Explain
why you feel such acts did, or did not occur in New Orleans. What did you
conclude after our discussion about the two photos of "looting" vs.
"taking"? Is the situation ongoing?

2. In postings and discussions, we have considered the fact that
cutbacks in newsroom staff at the nation's newspapers are making it harder
to find international news and in-depth, original news (as opposed to
meeting coverage or rewritten news releases. Merrill Brown, who is running
the Carnegie Corp.'s improve-journalism-school initiative, writes: "The
questions raised by the young people abandoning the news go to the heart of
how we'll learn about the complex world we live in and make informed
decisions about its future." Discuss the relationship between so-called
"watchdog"journalism and the functioning of participatory democracy.

3. As "blogs" proliferate on the web, more and more people are acting
like journalists in publishing via the Internet their analysis and
commentary on current events. Legislation introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar
and Rep. Mike Pence would allow certain people and entitles to decline to
testify in court about the identity of their news sources. If you were
writing such a law, how would you define "journalist"? Discuss the
implications of you language choices. Are you licensing the press? Or
creating a rating service so that consumers can professionally evaluation
the quality of their news? Says Pence of bloggers: "It [It] would be hard
to argue to anyone that privilege applies to those people just because they
have a Web site." Are the "citizen journalists" at OhMyNews journalists?

4. Consider the so-called "uncovered topics" chosen by the Project
Censored over the last year. Describe three briefly, tell why you think the
Project Censored judges picked them as worthy of spotlighting, reveal your
opinion about whether the story was undercovered, and provide advice, as
if you were speaking to Project Censor's director, about ways to gain the
project more publicity and noteriety. Do you think Project Censored is
having an impact on changing the way editors and producers assign stories?
Why or why not?

5. Consider Craig's List: What are the elements of Craig's List which
draw users away from the classified-advertising columns of major daily
newspapers? Can these elements be reproduced by daily newspapers either
alone or collaboratively with other newspapers? Do you think Craig's List
has a responsibility to mix professional reporting with its free commercial
listings? Why or why not?

6. Orville Schell, dean of the UC-Berkeley journalism school, has
written that it is "increasingly less realistic to expect commercial
broadcast outlets to effectively serve two masters: the public interest and
corporate bottom line." Why does Schell believe this? If he is right, then
please make some suggestions however wild -- for ways that broadcasters
might be compelled by the government, or by the marketplace, to provide
journalism which encourages viewers to become more active as public citizens.

7. View this URL:

Is a story about Iraqi war vets at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in
Washington, D.C., worthy of front-page treatment in major newspapers? If
yes, then provide a theory as to why it hasn't been there. If not, explain
what about the story left you feeling it was not a "front-page" candidate.

8. The Judith Miller/Valerie Plame case is in progress, with many
unanswered questions. Imagine you are an editorial writer at a
50,000-circulation daily. Your publisher has asked you to write an
editorial about Judith Miller's imprisonment, and release, and her relation
with the New York Times and her editors. Write the short editorial,
choosing a point of view and then sticking with it. As you write, try to
explain to the newspaper's readers the principles involved in the case.

9. In his book, and in the speech excerpts we played in class, Prof.
Robert McChesney argues that the U.S. media system is "not natural".
Explain what he means by this and talk about his role as a media
reformer. Do you think McChesney's prescription for media "reform" is
enough? Will it succeed? What is required for success? Is his rhetoric
effective? Inspiring? Confrontational?

10. Put yourself in the position of editor of a once-great American
newspaper which has recently suffered newsroom job cuts and declining
circulation. Tim McGuire is the former editor/publisher of the Minneapolis
Star Tribune, a major daily, who now researches and advises the newspaper
industry. In a recent speech, he said newspapers must reinvent themselves.
He wrote,
1) The reinvention must be radical.
2) We must build the broad democratic (small D) community with integrity.
3) We must cultivate citizen journalism, but serve as an authenticator.
4) We must reaffirm our watchdog role with a return to great writing
and storytelling.
5) We must choose thoroughness, completeness and sophistication.
How would you proceed, as editor?

11. Consider the journalism graduate students who recently toured
campus nuclear facilities for ABC News. When a person works as a reporter,
must they always identify themselves as a reporter in all interactions with
the public? Does this apply when they are "on duty" at their job, or at any
time? What if they are in a place, behaving in a manner, or are otherwise
positioned in a way that any member of the public might be? If a reporter
must always identify herself, does that mean an undercover police officer
is by definition unethical?

12. In covering government, should reporters focus on politics and
personality, or policy? The dilemma is that many editors believe readers
and viewers aren't interested in policy. But policy coverage CAN be made
interesting, can't it? And which is more likely to foster informed voting
by the public? Why?

13. Under the Sedition Act, which no longer exists, Anthony Haswell, a
Bennington, Vt., publisher, was jailed for supporting another jailed editor
who opposed the president. Imagine you are the editor of a small, urban
weekly newspaper which serves a Muslim community in a U.S. city. You write
a column in support of a Muslim cleric in the city who has been missing for
five days and who family members claim was arrested by federal
agents. Three days later, FBI agents come to your newspaper office with a
warrant for your arrest, citing Section 411 of the USA Patriot Act which
makes it a federal crime to "support terrorism." What do you do or say?

14. On Oct. 5, 2005, former Vice President Al Gore gave a keynote
speech to news executives and web entrepreneurs at The Associated Press
headquarters. In it, he declared, "The Republic of Letters has been invaded
and occupied by television." He added that the Internet "still doesn't hold
a candle to television" in terms of the amount of time the public spends
with it. The "marketplace of ideas" has become inaccessible to the average
citizen; entertainment has replaced journalism; but the Internet holds
promise so long as it remains open and accessible to all. Discuss your
understanding of Gore's speech and its significance and explain why you
think it was not covered by any major news organization other than The AP,
or displayed prominently in any newspaper.

Monday, October 24, 2005

COPYRIGHT: Can the White House control use of the presidential seal?

Who owns rights to government property? Can the government copyright a
logo of a government agency -- such as the White House?

White House Orders Satirical Paper 'The Onion' to Stop Using Presidential

By E&P Staff

Published: October 24, 2005 2:25 PM ET

NEW YORK Despite White House spokesman Trent Duffy's admission to New York
Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye that "more than one Bush staffer reads
The Onion and enjoys it thoroughly," the White House is seeking to stop
the satirical paper from using the presidential seal on its Web site.

Seelye's seal scoop, printed in Monday's paper, reveals that associate
counsel to the president Grant M. Dixton sent a letter to the Onion on
Sept. 28 stating that the seal "is not to be used in connection with
commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential
support or endorsement."

The newspaper parodies President Bush's weekly radio address on its Web
site, accompanied by a picture of President Bush and the official

The Onion's lawyer, Rochelle H. Klaskin, countered the government's letter
by saying, "It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the
seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the

Klaskin also asked that the Onion be considered fro an official exception
to the rule, which is allowable by law.

The Onion distributes 500,000 copies a week, and three million people read
the paper online, according to the Times.

SHIELD LAW: Definition of journalist in Lugar bill excludes bloggers?

This story contains the draft language defining journalist in the shield
law. It appears to exclude bloggers.

Here is a link to the actual text of the proposed law:

Shield Law Sponsor: Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journos

By Mark Fitzgerald
Editor & Publisher Online

Published: October 10, 2005 4:17 PM ET

Bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists under
the proposed federal shield law, the bill's co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Richard
Lugar (R.-Ind.), told the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Monday

Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define
a journalist under the proposed law.

"As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill
goes farther along," he said in response to a question from Washington
Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. "Are bloggers journalists or
some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not
consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will
be included in this bill?"

According to the first draft of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005,
the "covered person" protected by the bill's terms includes "any entity
that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite,
mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a
newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic
form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such
stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming
service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a
news agency or wire service." The legislation also covers employees,
contractors or other persons who "gathers, edits, photographs, records,
prepares, or disseminates news or information for any such entity."

A key reason some journalists oppose the popular federal shield proposal
is fear that giving Congress the power to define who is and isn't a
journalist could lead effectively to the licensing of journalists.

In other remarks about the legislation at IAPA's 61st General Assembly,
Lugar acknowledged that the legislation could amount to a "privilege" for
reporters over other Americans.

"I think, very frankly, you can make a case that this is a special boon
for reporters, and certainly for their role in freedom of the press," he
said. "At the end of the day what we will come out with says there is
something privileged about being a reporter, and being able to report on
something without being thrown into jail."

Lugar said he was inspired to write the legislation by the jailing of New
York Times reporter Judith Miller. "I've known Judy Miller for many
years," he said, adding that they became close when she was reporting on
his efforts to dismantle the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal.

The bill is necessary to help the United States regain its status as an
"exemplar" of press freedom, Lugar told the IAPA. "Even as we are
advocating for free press (abroad)... we'd better clean up our own act,"
Lugar said.
Mark Fitzgerald ( is E&P's


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

WHAT'S A JOURNALIST? Sponsor says bill may include blogger

Here's an update on the question of defining a journalist for a federal
shield law. Here's the text of the legislation. The language appears very ambiguous and broad:

Bill's Author Says Some Bloggers Would be Protected by Shield Law

By Mark Fitzgerald
Editor & Publisher Online via Yahoo

Bloggers who actually gather news would be protected under the proposed
federal shield law, the legislation's first author, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence
(news, bio, voting record), R-Ind., told the Inland Press Association

Pence's view of who would qualify as a journalist under the Free Flow of
Information Act differed from the assessment of the bill's co-sponsor in
the Senate, Indiana Richard Lugar.

Exactly two weeks before speaking at the Inter American Press Association,
Lugar said bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists
eligible for the act's protections.

Pence said bloggers would likely have to be considered on a "blog-by-blog"

"Frankly, there are some that are out there gathering news," Spence said
at Inland's 120th annual meeting. "There are many people though, who just
link to your newspapers. It would be hard to argue to anyone that
privilege applies to those people just because they have a Web site."

Pence asked the Inland publishers to rally their readers around the Free
Flow of Information Act. "I believe we have an historic opportunity to
close this hole in the First Amendment."

Pence said there was intense interest in the bill on the Senate Judiciary
Committee, which he noted has held two hearings on the issue at a time
when "there have been not one but two Supreme Court vacancies."

Though Pence was the first author of the bill, its bi-partisan backers
have decided to try to get it passed in the Senate first. (See related
story, Shield Law Supporters Optimistic on Bill's Passage in 2006.)

Pence, who is chairman of the House Conservative Coalition, said he was
moved to write the bill by "the specter of an American journalist spending
85 days in jail," a reference to embattled New York Times reporter Judith
Miller, and by his admiration for the Brown publishing family in his
hometown of Columbus, Ind. ( Jeff Brown, president of the Inland Press
Association as well as his family's Home News Enterprises, was the best
man at Pence's wedding and introduced the representative before his

"As a conservative, I believe the only real check on government is a free
press," Pence said. "And as someone who believes in limited government, I
believe nothing is more conservative than promoting and protecting the
principle of a free press."

Pence said he frankly believes much of the news media is liberal, and he
joked that he reads The New York Times every Sunday morning and then goes
to church to "so I know what both sides are up to."

"This isn't about protecting reporters," he said of the proposed shield
law. "This is about protecting the peoples right to know."

-- Mark Fitzgerald ( is E&P's

FYI: Plain Dealer columnist gets reaction to column about poor journalism salaries

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