New York Times Publishes Obituaries for “Overlooked” Women


Ida B. Wells, one of the nation’s most influential investigative reporters, in 1920. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

In recognition of the International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Times published obituaries of 15 women it had “overlooked” when they died.  Says the Times, “Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.”

These are among the 15 women highlighted today:

The Times even provides a form you can use to nominate for better-late-than-never obituaries for people from underrepresented minorities, including women.


Why Does”Black Panther” Matter?


Chadwick Boseman, left, and Michael B. Jordan lead a mostly-black cast.

A flurry of articles celebrate the release of the Black Panther.   Why?  What are the rhetorical explanations for its appeal? Audience awareness?  Visual rhetoric?

Among the reasons the articles cite are the following.  Can your students add others and explain how they relate to rhetoric?

  • Black Panther radiates a “near subzero-temperature sense of cool…T’Challa is accessible, awe-inspiring and perhaps most importantly, human.”
  • Black Panther is poised to break Hollywood box office records, dispelling the notion that block-busters cannot come from black cultural roots.  To do this, it draws on a wide, multi-racial fan base.
  • Black Panther provides a lasting visual role model to children of color.

Resources: “A Different Kind of Superhero’: Why ‘Black Panther’ Will Mean So Much to So Many,”

“‘Black Panther’ Poised to Shatter a Hollywood Myth,”

“Black Superheroes Matter: Why a ‘Black Panther’ Movie Is Revolutionary,” “


Atomic Scientists Tick the Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight




It’s now two minutes to midnight, according to the Doomsday Clock which is maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Midnight on the clock would be nuclear war.  Founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, the Bulletin uses the powerful visual rhetoric of a clock clicking down to detonation to call attention to the world’s closeness to atomic annihilation.  When the scientists change the clock’s position either forward or backwards, it attracts media attention worldwide.


Clock timeline and history,

“Keepers of The Doomsday Clock Say We’re Now Only 2 Minutes to Midnight,”


Conflicting Reviews of ‘Blade Runner 2048’ Fuel Discussion of Audience

blade-runner-box-officeBlade Runner 2048 opened to generally good reviews.  For example, Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service calls it “a meditative and moving film, sumptuously photographed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins in the finest and most astonishing work of his career.”  Yet, 2048 did not do well in theaters. Lauren Jernigen of The Mary Sue tries to explain why:  “Throughout the nearly three-hour philosophy lesson [of the film], we are presented with the idea that women are only there to help move the story of men forward, rather than act as protagonists in their own right in a story very much about oppression against them.”  Simply put, suggests Jernigen, many women didn’t like the film, and some men didn’t like the film’s treatment of women. 

Analyzing two conflicting review of the same film creates the opportunity to discuss how two writers can have such different perspective on the same topic. Moreover, the contrast fuels an analysis of audience.   In addition to discussing the two reviews, students might examine other articles and reviews posted by the two publications.  Likely, readers of the Tribune News Service have characteristics that differ distinctly from that of The Mary Sue, and articles in those publications will reflect the writers’ audience awareness. 


“Blade Runner 2049: Bad Representation Is Not Representation,”

“Blade Runner 2049 is a Wondrous Spectacle,”


Bret Stephens’s Suggestions for Op-Eds

New York Times’s Op-Ed writer Bret Stephens offers tips for aspiring Op-Ed that he’s learned over the years as an editor, op-ed writer and columnist.  He begins with this one:

“1) A wise editor once observed that the easiest decision a reader can make is to stop reading. This means that every sentence has to count in grabbing the reader’s attention, starting with the first. Get to the point: Why does your topic matter? Why should it matter today? And why should the reader care what you, of all people, have to say about it?”

These suggestions may be useful for writing Activity 5.7 Write an Op-Ed Argument on page 171 in Praxis 3e.

For 14 more tips, see Stephens’s essay at



New Euphemisms May Still Be Twattle

United CEO Oscar Munoz invented the euphemism “Re-accommodate” in an attempt to soften the description of what happened when a passenger was dragged off a flight.  The public didn’t like the wording very much.  Then he tried using the wording “truly horrific event” instead, but the damage was already done.

An euphemism is a figure of speech, which means the language is not meant literally or precisely.  Generally, euphemisms are mild words substituted for ones people think are too offensive.  When the person using a euphemism doesn’t understand an audience very well, though,  poor choices of softer words can make a situation worse.

A blog entry on, “Re-accommodating the Latest Euphemistic Twaddle,” discusses Munoz’s euphemisms, and others.

Untitled euph



Read Like Your Audience Would Read

This tote’s designers may have intended to say, “My Favorite Color is Glitter,” but their poor font choice conflated the “G” of glitter with the “L,” turning their design into a statement that most would read as “My Favorite color is Hitler.”  A simple change of font would have solved the problem.  The bag’s image

Hitler went viral on Twitter, with people offering comments like these:

“How did the designers Nazi that.”

“Waking up to see the führer this tweet has created”