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MEDIA LANGUAGE : Rhetorical Devices

In contrast to reading a novel or a text book Media Communication is full of Rhetorical Language. Rhetoric  is the way in which language is manipulated to a particular purpose such as the creation of emotion in poetry (Long & Wall) 

It derives from the use of Language itself, which together with rhetoric creates Meaning 

Rhetoric is the construction & manipulation of language by the creator of a text for affective purposes.(Long & Wall)

The analysis of a media text will take into account the rhetorical language  used by the journalist or copy writer to bring about a reaction response in the reader. It is a calculated literary strategy and is tied up with bias spin & propaganda.  which we have already looked at in previous posts.

Affective purposes means The intellectual emotional psychological or physical responses to the rhetorical address of the media text (Long & Wall)

The key to rhetorical language is to know that you are writing/reading it specifically to cause an effect, to elicit an emotion in the reader, an emotion that may result in some kind of desired action by the writer ie a buying response to an advertisement, a vote for a politician, the desire to join the Occupy Movement ect

Verbal Rhetoric goes back to Aristotle  who first wrote about the Art of Persuasion, it was further developed in classical Roman times with the likes of Cicero  when speech making in the Forum became trained senatorial skill.

Since then it has been the domain of military commanders, religious leaders, heads of state, playwrights and campaigners for various movements down through the ages. When modern media came into being Rhetoric was fine tuned into journalism. 

Rhetoric is as old as language itself, it is one of the main uses of language. The thing is that we all use rhetorical devices in every day speech, when ever you want some thing from somebody you will use it. When ever you want to make a strong statement you will use it, perhaps hip-hop RAP is one of its contemporary pop cultural versions

Lets look at some of the rhetorical devices used in journalism. You often see these as headings for news items.

Rhetorical Questions

Do you think i have all day ? Isn’t really about really about time its intent is to get someone else to do something quickly.


‘Police Capture Two Tonged Ted from Teddington’ repetition of letters to create a rhythm, easy to remember


‘Iraq is a Pressure Cooker Waiting to explode! ‘ The substitution of one idea for another, every one can relate to a pressure cooker on a stove and therefor get the meaning of the situation in Iraq.


 ‘Robber is Eyeballed’ Using a body part to denote the whole person or thing, I bought some wheels instead of saying i bought a car


‘High Noon for Banking Summit’ use of well worn phases to catch attention. Here is a list of popular cliches 


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