ISC Topic 1. Shirley Sherrod’s Battle Against the Tea Party and Conservative Media Outlets

29 Sep

Do a little web-based research about the Shirley Sherrod case that occurred this summer. Based on your findings, what are the major strategic communication issues present in this case? How could a better understanding of  strategic communication, as you understand, have bettered this situation?

The Shirley Sherrod Case demonstrates a situation of how the media can sway public opinion about a person very quickly. Shirley Sherrod is a former employee of the United States Department of Agriculture. She was forced to resign after a video was posted online by Andrew Breitbart, and shown through media outlets which made her out to be racist person working for the government. The video was edited and the full extent was not shown at first.

The first major strategic communications issue present in this case is that the video was not questioned before it was shown on a variety of networks. It was shown, and then questioned. If people, especially at FOX news (go figure) said, “maybe this is not the full video, and we should find that exact video before we show the world how this woman is a racist, and let them make judgements”. The first video shown was 38 seconds long. It was not until the next day that a news channel (CNN) had Sherrod defend herself – they were the first. First of all, how many speeches are that long? Think about it.

Exactly – it is not very hard to think twice about the bias someone may have had against someone when they post such a small portion of their speech. Also, whether this woman was making racist comments or not, the full video – or the part with her point being made – needed to be shown in order for the audience to get the full affect and make a decisions for themselves instead of being swayed.

The second major issue is that this information spread far and wide and because no one checked to see the validity of it, everyone was furious and or informed with only some of the facts. You can get the full affect of how fast it spread on this timeline which displays how the Shirley Sherrod Case was handled.

The third issue I noticed while researching this case is bias. News channels who supported the tea party were quick to make this woman look bad (FOX) and more, while other news channels and outlets did more to get both sides of the story. It was political in nature and it became more about personal interests. David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents, said, “this has ripped away the veil and shown us all that is wrong with politics today, an ideologue injects poison into the internet, other people rush to judgment on camera, and an administration gets stampeded and commits this travesty of justice” (Rose). This is exactly what happened through the media as well.

This creates a problem because personal interests preside over the public’s right have a fair and truthful view of media.

These are the main issues that stuck out to me while researching this scandal. It gives me a better understanding of strategic communications as a consumer. I need to be more cautious, or have high digital media literacy, which is what it’s called nowadays (right Dr. McArthur?). I need to be able to choose what I am watching, reading or listening to while also understanding the information once I receive it. Although we live in a country where communication and media have free range, they also can withhold whatever they want as well. They choose to tell the public what they want to.

I believe that having a better understanding of strategic communications as a receiver makes for a better producer. In the end, FOX news along with others gave a lesser version of the information than they could have gotten their hands on, and they looked unprepared in the long run. In my opinion, I watched and read a lot of FOX based information and wondered why there were no refutes, or other sides of the story. Once Breitbart admitted that the video was edited and there was more, it was disappointing.

Rose, Adam. “Shirley Sherrod SCANDAL: Democrats, Republicans Unite To        Insist She Be Rehired (VIDEO).”TheHuntingtonPost. The        Huntington Post, 07/21/2010. Web. 29 Sep 2010.        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/21/shirley-sherrod- defended_n_653747.html.

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One Response to “ISC Topic 1. Shirley Sherrod’s Battle Against the Tea Party and Conservative Media Outlets”

  1. JAMcArthur October 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Digital Media Literacy indeed! Many parties missed the digital literacy mark here – including the folks that fired her, who also originally misunderstood the context of her remarks. This case makes random posting on Facebook or other networking sites seem dangerous.

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