This week in Digital Rhetoric, we worked on a design project within our table groups, in which we created a PSA about the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) proposed by Northern Water in Colorado. Each table took a different perspective from which to frame this PSA. Our table actually got to portray our PSA as though we were Northern Water, which was interesting because none of the four of us agreed with Northern Water’s proposal, so it took a lot of consideration to determine how we should try to “sell” this campaign to the public.
In his Digital Rhetoric book, Douglas Eyman explains how Aristotle first classified rhetoric and its methods. Eyman states that Aristotle argued: “In constructing a successful speech, the orator could use three modes of expression: logos (logical argument), pathos (emotional appeals), and ethos (establishing the authority of the speaker)” (Eyman — emphasis added). We needed all three of these appeals in order to create a successful PSA.
We used logos in our video by citing facts about water in Colorado to appeal to our audience’s logical side. For example, we claimed that “families and farms in Colorado struggle every day to create a sustainable living because of limited access to water,” which is information that we learned directly from the Northern Water website.
We used pathos to appeal to our viewers’ emotions in our PSA as well. We evoked nostalgia, state pride, and enthusiasm for the outdoors with images of nature, rivers, hiking, and families enjoying their surroundings in Colorado. After we created the pleasant emotions that come along with nature shots, we immediately cut to a black screen that said “No one should go without water” in order to defy our audience’s expectations and create an emotional experience to provoke their action. As Richard Weaver highlights in The Ethics of Rhetoric, “rhetoric at its truest seeks to perfect men by showing them better versions of themselves, links in that chain extending up toward the ideal … Rhetoric appears, finally, as a means by which the impulse of the soul to be ever moving is redeemed” (Weaver). Weaver indicates that our PSA viewers will truly seek to enjoy the effects of the pathos we create by imploring them to act (and support NISP) based on the emotions evoked by our images. People want to feel special and “ever moving” toward progress, and we could influence them through our ability to attract their emotional sides.
Finally, we used ethos by appealing to our own credibility on the matter by emphasizing the fact that we are Northern Water (a water company and the group proposing NISP itself) by creating a hashtag just for NISP and highlighting the Northern Water website at the end of the video. The concept of ethos in our PSA relates to Lawrence Lessig’s TED Talk, “Laws That Choke Creativity,” in which the speaker claims, “artists and creators [need to] embrace the idea, choose that their work be made available more freely” to the public (Lessig). This is what we — as “representatives” of Northern Water — have attempted to do by portraying our knowledge on the matter of NISP and our credibility to speak to its benefits. We are opening our doors — or, at least, our website — to the public so that they can see the impact of the work we are doing for water in northern Colorado.