The Arizona 9/11 Memorial: A Case Study in Public Dissent and Argumentation through Blogs

By Smith, Christina M.; McDonald, Kelly M. | Argumentation and Advocacy, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

The Arizona 9/11 Memorial: A Case Study in Public Dissent and Argumentation through Blogs


Smith, Christina M., McDonald, Kelly M., Argumentation and Advocacy


Increasingly, the use of digital media technologies by publics to generate support, circulate dissent, and/or disseminate their message has shaped the political process. In the 2004 election, citizen-consumers used their digital media skills to engage in political activism and candidates such as Howard Dean conducted fundraising and other campaign activities online (Jenkins, 2006; Kerbel & Bloom, 2005). The use of digital media increased significantly in the 2008 election cycle. Of note were the YouTube debates, the Barack Obama-inspired Macintosh 1984 mash-up featuring Hillary Clinton as the evil overlord, and the Five Sons Blog of Mitt Romney. During this time, the so-called mainstream broadcast media were supplemented, and in some cases supplanted, by blogs as a primary source for citizens' political information. This evolution in information seeking highlights the growing importance of such alternative forms of access and participation. Participatory forms of media production and circulation also have contested understandings of the citizenry as merely passive receivers of media content and political rhetoric. Rather, citizens are taking an active role in political and public participation through the use of digital media such as websites (McDorman, 2001), internet chat rooms (Weger & Aakus, 2003), and video dissemination sites such as YouTube (Hess, 2009). Therefore, scholars of media and political communication must explore new ways of theorizing the argumentation and deliberation processes in an age of digital media.

In the digital media environment, the arguments constructed and disseminated by news organizations and political elites are opened up to contestation by a wide variety of audiences and constituencies. Non-mainstream, web-based political groups such as bloggers are taking an active role in shaping public opinion-and often, the mainstream news coverage of particular issues or events. This essay analyzes one instance in which bloggers took a leading role in influencing public discourse. Specifically, it addresses the public deliberation and blog-circulated dissent surrounding the controversial Arizona 9/11 Memorial.

The memorial was approved with public input and the consensus of planners, but once erected, it produced an outcry of conservative, blogger-generated opinion against the structure, ultimately forcing significant design modifications. Bloggers also critiqued the mainstream news coverage of the memorial-leading some local and national news organizations to in turn analyze and critique the important contributions of these digital intermediaries. The Arizona 9/11 Memorial controversy demonstrates the impact of a small group of conservative bloggers on the mainstream media, local politicians, and public policy. Conservative bloggers were so effective at creating outrage and digitally disseminating their outrage to networked publics, key news outlets, and local politicians that they were able to reverse the outcome of the institutional public deliberation process. Arguments produced and circulated online engendered offline, embodied participation at the memorial site and through local political activism.

This case study illustrates the growing tension between public participation via technology and public participation through embodied political discourse inherent in traditional Habermasian conceptions of deliberation. Additionally, there is evidence that the mainstream news coverage was impacted by the critiques of bloggers. Such interaction between nonmainstream, web-based news environments and mainstream news organizations offers an opportunity to begin an exploration of argumentation in the digital media age, becoming a site for answering particular questions about new forms of political participation. Does the addition of angry voices of opposition, expressed from the safety and anonymity of a disembodied and distanced medium, help or hinder the flourishing of democracy? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Arizona 9/11 Memorial: A Case Study in Public Dissent and Argumentation through Blogs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.