As writers, we take many different topics, some assigned to us and some chosen for personal reasons, and write about them. But, we do not just write about the topics, we research them, form opinions, and choose sides. We use our various rhetorical devices to passionately defend our positions, or perhaps to just objectively describe an issue so the audience can form their own opinions.
We use ethos, pathos, or logos, sometimes a combination of the three, to engage our audience and help them to think in a different way about our topic. In short, we are always aware of our audience because we know that in order to connect with them and intrigue them to read what we have written, we have to tailor our words to meet the audiences’ needs and expectations.
An egocentric writer will write a blog, paper, journal article, etc. filled with personal opinions and facts to support these beliefs. However, instead of objectively informing the audience, this writer believes that everyone feels as he/she does. This type of writing is presumptuous and will most likely turn off readers. An example of someone who is not audience aware is Senator Lindsay Graham, who recently argued in a debate that the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay are all “crazy bastards” and should be kept off American soil at all cost.
Senator Graham proceeds to presume to speak for all Americans and tells his fellow senators that some of them have “lost their minds” and that no one wants to close down Guantanamo Bay and bring prisoners to the United States. Graham is not taking into consideration that not everyone feels the same way he does, which should be obvious since they are having a debate about the subject. Instead of stating facts of the issue and giving his opinion, or using proper logos, he gets too emotionally involved and ends up losing the interest of audience members, myself for one.
A writer who is aware of the audience he/she is writing for will be careful to write in an unbiased way and to explain anything that the audience members may not have previous knowledge of. Instead of ranting and making assumptions about how the audience feels, a good writer will present information and let the audience decide how they feel for themselves. In the article by Phil Keating concerning the trial of Dorice Moore, Keating gives the article a catchy title, explains the title, and presents the facts of the case. He explains why Moore is on trial, current events in the trial, and does all of this without telling the audience whether he believes Moore is guilty or not. This gives readers a chance to process the information they have been given without forcing them to make a decision or feel resentment toward the author for telling them how to feel.
No matter how strongly you feel about a topic, it is always best to consider your audience and how they will react to your words before publishing. Otherwise, you could lose the audience altogether.
Autumn Jennings is finishing up her B.A. Degree in Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology at USF. Her interests lie in Rhetoric and Ethics.