Rhetoric appropriateness in view of contemporary media communication and journalism
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In the article, I present deliberations on the theme of the rhetorical category of appropriateness in the context of its original sources and contemporary media practice. Upon presenting the theory formed in line with the understanding developed in antiquity, I accept as a functional division for the purpose of the discussion the prépon/aptum (decorum) division, i.e. into the historical and literary notion, and appropriateness as a general principle of rhetorical communication to subsequently present a discussion organised on the basis of three theses: 1) The major factor defining the rhetorical model of appropriateness is the mass nature of media communication in the presence of freedom of speech, a democratic system of authority, and economic liberalism; 2) The on-going presence of disputes regarding the appropriateness of public behaviour is a manifestation not as much of its norm-building potential as of the functional approach – of senders, participants of the reported events, and message receivers – towards media communication, which inevitably results in a distinct over-representation of messages the content of which applies to the manifestations of inappropriateness; 3) The appropriateness principle is associated with the difficult task for the receiver to understand her/his role in the world of the media, and its various consequences. I posit that the principle does, in fact, indicate certain criteria which can become a basis for classifying specific messages as those which do or do not meet the requirements of rhetorical tact, yet it does not enable one to define an a priori applicable borderline between appropriateness and inappropriateness in contemporary media. Therefore, it seems that the settlement of any doubts and dilemmas associated with appropriateness ought to be founded on a good upbringing-based social stance and a system of values, i.e. maturity achieved regardless of the influence of the media.