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Auteur: Serhiy POTAPENKO

Rhetoric of Needs: Selling News Stories

Abstract/Résumé: The presentation defines rhetoric of needs as a study of the ways texts attract and keep the attention of the audience through appeal to its basic needs: physiological, safety, belongingness, reputation, self-actualization (A.Maslow). From the rhetoric of needs perspective the successful selling of news stories consists in their selection, arrangement and wording with respect to the audience's needs. They serve as subconscious landmarks for a journalist's activity throughout five stages of rhetorical text-building: choice of a topic (invention), its linear arrangement (disposition), verbal ornamentation (elocution), memory and delivery with the last two merging into a performative phase due to the development of recording technologies. Taking into account the rhetorical stages of text-formation, the presentation distinguishes four successive strategies of organizing news stories aimed at attracting and keeping the audience's attention: inventional, dispositional, elocutionary, and performative. The inventional strategies determine the selection of material with respect to the audience's basic needs and fall into those appealing to belongingness, reputation, self-actualization, and safety. For example, the inventional safety strategy is implemented by the tactics of safety support, safety loss, safety renewal, as well as those of potential, genuine or intensive threat, evoked by the meaning of predicates. Dispositional strategies influence news item composition at two levels: 1) macro, concerning the arrangement of the headline, lead, blocks of main and previous events; 2) micro, reflected in the structure of separate sections due to the fronting of the units relating a referent to particular needs in the headline and separate paragraphs. Dispositional microstrategies are implemented by the tactics of focusing, identification, partition, rebuff, and balance which determine the textual distribution of nominative units appealing to particular needs. Elocutionary strategies subordinate the choice of nominative units denoting location and other parameters of a described event as well as of the units indicating the participants' class belongingness, their quantity which intensifies an appeal to the evoked needs. Performative strategies, determining the location of news items on page or on computer screen, are subdivided into hypertextual, relating texts to the bodily coordinates of FRONT - BACK, UP - DOWN, LEFT - RIGHT, CENTRE - PERIPHERY, and multimodal, conditioning the interaction of texts and images according to the tactics of dominance of the visual or its subordination to the printed matter.