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Media expert launches College lecture series

Katie Kohler | Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson spoke to a full house in the Little Theater at the Moreau Center for the Arts at Saint Mary’s Wednesday night. Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and professor of communication at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania gave a lecture entitled “Deception in Politics,” a field in which she is nationally accredited as an expert in political communications.

Jill Vihtelic, the College’s acting vice president and dean of faculty, opened the series, welcoming Jamieson and explaining the preface of the first annual Plamondon Endowed Lecture in Communication Studies. The lecture series was named for retiring communications professor Ann Plamondon, who has been at Saint Mary’s since 1981.

Jamieson then took the stage and immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by tackling her grave subject material with an interactive approach.

“Why don’t we co-create this lecture?” she asked.

Jamieson referenced Aristotle’s theories on enthymemes and public speech, which favor deductive arguments and interaction with the audience, respectively.

“Using enthymeme, we can make active communication, which will make this talk more powerful,” she said.

Jamieson, a renowned expert in political advertising and deception, has appeared on CBS and other television programs as an authority in the field.

Jamieson traced the duplicity of politics to the 1964 presidential election, inviting the audience to analyze President Lyndon Johnson’s controversial anti-nuclear warfare ad campaign.

She said the 1964 election was “the dirtiest election in politics. It all started here,” she said. “This ad served as an iconic reference point for dirty politics.”

Jamieson asked the audience to interpret the ads and explain how they swayed their thoughts on each candidate.

She proceeded to show another Johnson ad, which never aired due to its sensationalist content. It featured video clips of the Ku Klux Klan and said members supported Republican candidate Senator Barry Goldwater.

“People are often bothered by the juxtaposition of ads and the placement of people and things,” she said.

Jamieson then fast-forwarded to the 2004 presidential election and the role of the Internet in political campaigns. She said a verbal slip-up from Vice President Dick Cheney led audiences to visit an online blog that endorsed the John Kerry-John Edwards ticket instead of Republican platforms – mistakenly benefiting his opponent.

These blogs and other Web-based news feeds may determine future political outcomes as their popularity among the voters increases, she said.

“Although [bloggers] are one-sided, they are complete and show the future of campaigning and reaching the audience,” she said.

She said political contenders down the road would need to integrate the growing trend to their campaigns’ strategies.

“In politics today, young people need to find a way to make [the Internet] work for them,” she said. “You can fix the system using technology and find new ways to change the system.”

Jamieson ended the lecture with questions.

After Jamieson’s farewell, Pauley took the stage again and invited Plamondon to say a few words. Pauley presented her with a collection of letters from the alumnae who endorsed her lecture series.

Vihtelic recognized Plamondon’s accomplishments and her lasting impact on her students in her opening statement.

“We want to note her [Plamondon’s] many contributions to Saint Mary’s and her impact on countless young women,” she said. “Over 1,000, to be exact.”

Students from the graduating classes of 1981-2004 were responsible for the series and provided funding for the endowment.

Dr. John Pauley, communications professor and chair of the Communication Studies department, was the driving force behind the series to honor his longtime colleague.

“[Plamondon] stood beside, behind me and with me since I came here in 1991 and this has not changed,” he said.

Plamondon said the expansion of the department during her time in the College would have not been possible without the contributions of the entire Saint Mary’s community.

“The department has grown and changed over the years,” Plamondon said. And I want to clear up the deception … everything I have accomplished has been due to the wonderful support of my students, colleagues and administration.”