The NRA: Thriving on Media Hatred.


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Among the most significant ways news coverage can affect our perception of events is through personalization in ways favorable or unfavorable to a group. For example, a welfare-related story might “frame a welfare mother sympathetically, as a woman struggling for a better life for her children against social and economic inequality, or unsympathetically, as a slattern who is chronically lazy and irresponsible.” Dramatic accounts involving heroes and villains are more easily digestible by the general public than the scrupulous neutrality of a scientific report. What reporters call the “angle” of a story is simply the manner in which it is personalized.

One Washington Post story concerning a proposed gun restriction features a photograph of a father holding his child: “‘If this bill saves the life of one child,’ [he] said, choking back tears, ‘It’s worth it.’” Other gun-legislation articles feature mothers holding picture of their dead children.

Short, almost gratuitous accounts of the wounding of former presidential press secretary James Brady, whose wife, Sarah Brady, is currently chair of HCI, seem to be inserted in literally dozens of NRA articles that are otherwise impersonal. A typical cartoon… shows a fragile Mr. Brady in a wheelchair facing a gigantic and heavily armored tank labeled “NRA” that is bristling with grotesque weapons. The Bradys are described with terms such as characteristic zeal, effective advocate, consuming mission and relentless good humor and vitality.

NRA officials, on the other hand, are squinting, sweaty, husk of his old self and fascist at heart.

Journalistic style requires heavy use of verbs which attribute quotes or information to their sources. Such verbs may have positive connotations—found, showed, demonstrated—negative connotation—alleged, claimed, asserted—or be reasonably neutral—said, stated, reported. Among the verbs of attribution employed in covering the NRA the author found: bleat, whine, weasel-wording his way, likes to argue, would have everyone believe, touted in often shrill language, asking unctuously, claimed to believe, likes to portray, and or so they said.

(The Occidental Observer, December 1, 2013).

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