Rhetoric and journalism as common arts of public discourse: a theoretical, historical, and critical perspective
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This dissertation examines historical and conceptual intersections between rhetoric and journalism to facilitate interaction among professors of the two subjects. Although many rhetoricians and journalists claim common ends of invigorating democratic politics, academic separation obscures these common ends and inhibits interdisciplinary interaction. The thesis of this work is that professors of journalism and rhetoric who endeavor to promote effective democratic discourse can and should seek means of collaborating to enact and foster the kinds of public participation they envision. Chapter one finds compatible notions of democratic discourse processes presented by rhetoricians, journalists, and communication scholars. Synthesizing treatments across disciplines of publics, public spheres, public opinion, and press roles, the chapter offers a normative model showing how journalism and rhetoric can interact to realize publics and public opinion. Chapters two through four illuminate developments in academic and public life that led to the disciplinary separation of rhetoric and journalism at the turn of the twentieth century, using as case studies Fred Newton Scottís teaching and Ida M. Tarbellís practice of public discourse. This examination suggests that some major historic differences between the subjects are now passÈ. As journalism entered the academy, rhetoric was perceived as an academic and literary subject with little connection to public life. Scottís program of rhetoric and journalism at the University of Michigan, discussed in chapter two, illustrates public-academic tensions that separated the subjects. His neoplatonic rhetoric differs significantly from the Aristotelian and Isocratean practices that have since been revived among rhetoricians. Chapter three investigates professional impulses in rhetoric and journalism, as composition-rhetoric strove toward disciplinary status and journalism became a distinct vocation. College journalism followed extra-academic professional influences more than it did the rhetorical traditions then espoused in composition-rhetoric programs. As the study of Ida M. Tarbell demonstrates in chapter four, muckraking was more a rhetoric of public engagement than what was being taught by many rhetoricians in the early twentieth century. Chapter five considers pedagogical implications of preceding theoretical and historical-critical insights, suggesting potential avenues for mutually beneficial interdisciplinary engagement among journalists, rhetoricians, and their students.