English Media Literacy

Imagine yourself sitting in a bus filled with people on the way home from a much-needed vacation. You feel excited to finally be home and are looking forward to reverting to your normal routine. Suddenly, the bus stops, and a woman quickly exits to vomit. You are now informed that your bus will be held in quarantine for an undetermined amount of time because the lady may have Ebola. You get a sinking feeling in your stomach as you slowly realize that all of your plans are foiled and/or must be postponed, and you also may have contracted a deadly virus.

Three weeks later, after being held in a quarantine center, you receive the news that it was a false alarm and the lady never had Ebola after all. Twenty-one days of your life have been utterly wasted. Ebola is a global health issue that has affected several different countries around the world. Many experts and world leaders have taken several different approaches in dealing with this internationally notorious phenomenon.

This paper will discuss the topic of Ebola from the perspective that views the illness in a lighter way, attempting to reduce its gravitational prominence in today’s society. It will discuss this topic’s coverage in four different sources: _Aljazeera_, _CNN_, _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_, and _CNS News_. It was found that the article from the _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ is less credible than the other three evaluated sources because it did not meet two criteria points.

I used three criteria in evaluating the four sources I used to study this cause: how well the author creates a reasonable, logically structured argument, appealing to _logos_; how well the author persuades the readers that he/she is knowledgeable, reliable, credible, and trustworthy appealing to _ethos_; and how well the writer appeals to readers’ emotions, sympathies, and values, appealing to _pathos_. The articles were evaluated using these three criteria because I believe appealing to logos, ethos, and pathos are the key components on rhetoric, and a journalist would not be considered credible if he/she could not meet those points.

It is important that these articles should be evaluated this way for the American news consumer because a lack of credibility can lead to false information spreading from person to person, ultimately leaving Americans with inaccurate perspectives on the subject matter. This is why the American news consumer should typically hold journalists to a certain standard before deciding whether or not they should believe the content. The first source I evaluated was from _Al Jazeera_, an international news website. It discusses the potential end to Ebola in Nigeria.

“The World Health Organization called Nigeria a ‘spectacular success story’ Monday after it declared the country free of Ebola. It has been 42 days – twice the disease’s maximum incubation period – since the last person suspected of contracting the disease tested negative” (Al Jazeera, 2014). A World Health Organization expert, Rui Gama Vaz, stated, “It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.

” These validations from experts convey the message that people do not need to fear Ebola to the extent to which it is stressed in society now because there are signs of hope. This source meets the criteria to qualify as a credible source. It appeals to logos as it provides a logically sound argument as to why Ebola does not need to be as feared as it currently is. The author, though unknown, uses many examples of experts speaking on this matter. Quoting international organizations and experts exemplifies the credibility of this source.

This source uses persuasion as a means to appeal to the ethos of the audience. The author uses direct quotations from international health experts and factual evidence to be persuasive in his point. The author successfully conveys to the audience that Ebola can be controlled. The article from _Al Jazeera_ appeals to pathos in the general way that it is discussing a fatal illness. Though the author persuades the audience that there is hope in finding an end to Ebola, he is also realistic in mentioning its ongoing catastrophic effects on other countries.

“The total death toll has risen to more than 4,500 people from the 9,000 infected, according to WHO. Although Nigeria and Senegal have been declared free of Ebola, the epidemic remains out of control in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia” (Al Jazeera, 2014). This appeals to pathos as it holds an impact on the fear of the audience, whether it raises or appeases it. The second source I evaluated was taken from _CNN_ and was titled, “Ebola Outbreak in the West: Why Some Survive, Some Don’t.

” In this article, Holly Yan wrote of the unknown controversy of Ebola. Although she concluded that the reason why some victims survive and others do not cannot be fully determined, there are several factors that greatly contribute to surviving the virus. She appeals to logos when she declares her argument that the factors of early, quality treatment, quick rehydration, and plasma transfusions are of utmost importance in increasing chances of surviving Ebola. She provides factual evidence to support her argument.

“The survivors in the United States all have one thing in common — they were rushed to two of the country’s four hospitals that have been preparing for years to treat a highly infectious disease such as Ebola. Brantly and Writebol were successfully treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; Sacra was released from the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha” (Yan, 1970). Brantly, Writebol, and Sacra all caught the disease while in Liberia, and they are all survivors. She successfully provided evidence as to why high-quality treatment at an early point is pivotal in surviving Ebola.

“‘The most important care of patients with Ebola is to manage their fluids and electrolytes, to make sure that they don’t get dehydrated,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And that requires some meticulous attention to detail and aggressive rehydration in many cases. ‘ And if an infected patient getting proper care normally has a strong immune system, the chance of surviving goes up” (Yan, 1970). Yan defended her argument of quick rehydration with this factual evidence derived from an interview from an expert on the topic.

Using an expert as a source appeals to ethos as it persuades readers that she is a credible journalist. “Three Ebola patients — Sacra, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo and Texas nurse Nina Pham — all received plasma donations from Brantly. And all three have survived. The theory is that Brantly’s plasma contains the antibodies necessary to fight the virus. ‘It’s very fortunate that the three patients I’ve been able to donate to, they and I share the same blood type,’ Brantly told _CNN_’s Anderson Cooper” (Yan, 1970).

Using direct quotations from an actual victim of Ebola appeals to both ethos and pathos as it exemplifies Yan’s credibility and authenticity, while simultaneously appealing to the audience’s feelings as they are able to receive insight from an individual who actually suffered from the horrible illness. The third source I evaluated was from _CNS News_. It is an article about United States’ President Obama’s stance on Ebola. A bus that departed from the Pentagon was held under quarantine because of an Ebola false alarm.

President Obama felt the need to clarify the supposed risk of the popular illness. “Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu,” Obama said. “You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus. ” (Hughes, 2014) This source meets the criterion of appealing to logos as it provides a firm argument in favor of President Obama’s message. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vetted Obama’s message before it was released, and they approved of the message. “During a conference call, _CNSNews.

com_ asked Frieden: ‘In a video message to countries in West Africa that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama told residents they cannot get the disease by sitting next to someone on a bus. But CDC recommendations state that travelers in West Africa who begin to show possible symptoms, or people who have experienced a high risk of exposure, should avoid public transportation, including buses. And we’ve also seen large amounts of concern regarding potentially infected people traveling on airplanes'” (Hughes, 2014). Hughes does a successful job in providing the potential counterargument that the audience might have.

This appeals to the logos as it provides evidence to support a logically structured argument. This article appeals to ethos as the author provides evidence to prove her credibility. Hughes explains that _CNS News_ had a conference call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provides quotations from President Obama’s speech about not worrying too much about attaining Ebola. She provided sufficient information to validate herself as a reliable source. Hughes does not directly appeal to pathos because the intent of her writing was to express the opinions of world leaders about Ebola.

However, the overall goal accomplished while working with her intent was providing a sense of ease in the minds of her audience; therefore, Hughes appealed to the pathos of her readers. She successfully implied that it has been said by world leaders and confirmed by national health organizations that Ebola is not as easy to acquire as society and the media make it seem at times. The fourth source I evaluated was from the _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ and was titled, “Ebola Fear, Monitoring Eases For Some In Dallas.

” Emily Schmall discussed the story of Youngor Jallah, a girl who spent three weeks confined in her small apartment with her boyfriend and three children in fear that they had caught Ebola from her mother’s fiance. Her mother’s fiance was Thomas Eric Duncan, who was the first person in the United States to contract Ebola and died on October 8, 2014. Schmall takes a positive tone in addressing the situation, trying to provide comfort for the residents of Dallas. She explains that Jallah is now recovering from her fears as there have been no signs of symptoms during the 21-day quarantine period.

In doing so, Schmall appeals first to the pathos of her audience. It can be inferred even from the title of the article that her primary intention was to appeal to pathos as it included the word, “fear. ” As the article progresses, it is confirmed that she targets the emotions and overall feelings of her audience. “On Monday, Jallah beamed with pride as she sent her children back to school with clearance from the Dallas County health department tucked into their backpacks. Her mother emerged from her own confinement and spent the early afternoon looking for a new place to live” (Schmall).

This excerpt provides a sense of peace and ease to the residents of audience, as clearly intended from the title of the article. This article was mainly based on facts, thus it did not present a direct argument or have a bias of any sort. Therefore, I believe this source is less credible than the three previously evaluated sources due to its lack of meeting the criteria of being credible journalism, as it did not provide a logically structural argument supported by strong evidence to persuade the readers of Schmall’s credibility as a journalist.

Her primary goal was to address the pathos of her audience and she was successful in doing so. However, she did not directly appeal to the logos or ethos of her audience in this article. Upon analyzing four different articles about societally minimizing the prevalence of Ebola, I have been able to evaluate the sources based on criteria I followed to determine whether or not the sources were credible.

It is extremely important for the American news consumer to hold journalists to a certain standard because people must be able to impartially read credible information so that they can judge the story for themselves without exterior influences persuading them to believe a different viewpoint. Readers should consider the ways in which the information is provided to them, as in the author’s ability to produce a logically structured argument, the ability to support the argument with evidence, and the ability to appeal to the reader’s emotions, sympathies, or values.

The author’s appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos should be taken into great consideration when a reader is trying to determine whether or not a source is credible, as these are key components of rhetorical journalism. Conclusively, I determined that the article from the _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ was not credible due to its lack of meeting criteria points. Citizens should set high standards and follow criteria for analyzing journalism so that they are not fed with incorrect, invalid, or inaccurate information, which would ultimately lead to an ignorant society.

Works Cited CDC Releases Revised Ebola Gear Guidelines. (n. d. ). _AJC. com: Atlanta News, Sports,_ _Atlanta Weather, Business News_. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from http://www. ajc. com/news/ap/health/ebola-fear-monitoring-eases-for-some-in- dallas/nhnF6/ Nigeria Ebola Outbreak Declared Over, But Others In Region Still Reeling | Al Jazeera America. (2014, October 20). _Nigeria Ebola outbreak declared over, but others in_ _region still reeling | Al Jazeera America_. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from http://america. aljazeera. com/articles/2014/10/20/ebola-who-nigeria.

html Obama Repeats: You Can’t Get Ebola on a Bus-Day After Bus Quarantined in D. C.. (2014, October 20). _CNS News_. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www. cnsnews. com/news/article/brittany-m-hughes/obama-repeats-you-can-t- get-ebola-bus-day-after-bus-quarantined-dc Yan, H. , Goodman, A. , Cohen, E. , Karimi, F. , & Shoichet, C. (1970, January 1). Ebola Outbreak in the West: Why Some Survive, Some Don’t. _CNN_. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www. cnn. com/2014/10/20/health/ebola-how-do-some- survive/index. html.

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