A Neo-Aristotelian Criticism of Persuasive Strategies Employed By U.S. News Journalists in the Current Crisis of Credibility

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Through studying the persuasive strategies used currently in news reporting, one can see how contemporary journalists attempt to build credibility with their audiences. Using Neo-Aristotelian criticism, a form of rhetorical criticism, I conducted research through the week of October 4th through October 8th of 2021. This strategy was employed to analyze the persuasive strategies used by U.S. news journalists, Tucker Carlson and Jake Tapper, to address and overcome the current crisis of trust in the media. This project provides new insight into how persuasive strategies are used to cultivate credibility by current American journalists in the media today, whether it be through words or images. Through analyzing both the embodied strategies of producing credibility as well as the discursive strategies employed in the stories they cover, a picture can be generated on their ethos-promoting strategies. My analysis found that Tucker Carlson, who has consistently high viewership, presents himself as an equal to his audience, and reports on topics that are directly related to the problems of the ‘common man’ satisfying the audience’s need for orientation. In contrast, Jake Tapper, who has lost significant viewership, presents his arguments in a way that is more authoritative, but lacks resonance with viewers' need for orientation as his stories frequently relate to national issues on a governmental level instead of the direct effect to the audience, lowering relevance. Tapper also emphasizes the importance of what is right and wrong through emotionally charged language which could dissuade viewers from deeming him as credible because he uses emotion to bolster his credibility more than other tactics. The benefit from this research includes helping reporters report more effectively as well as ethically to get the best response from their audience.



Neo-Aristotelian Criticism, Journalism, Crisis in Credibility