The website chosen for an organization which has a campaign promoting a core issue that interests me is “save the children.org” where it is trying to raise funds for the children in Syria as well as raising awareness against atrocities committed against the children of Syria. The website appeals to the emotion of the reader by emphasizing the huge number of children affected by war and then inducing them to act by giving donations to the organization;
“Syria has been a living nightmare for children and families tormented by six years of war and unimaginable hardship. It underscores how critical the situation is – and how desperately help is needed. We must act now – before a generation of Syria’s children suffer wounds that may never heal. Because every last child deserves a future“
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The closest theory in the 21st Century Communication: A Reference Handbook: Chapter 77: Theories and Effects of Public Relations, under the section “Assumptions and Lay Theories” is the Court of Public Opinion Theory which states single individuals or a small group of citizens and activists that advocate a certain cause which in this case, the suffering of the children of Syria wrought by the war. It appeals to public emotion and opinion by emphasizing how the children have suffered (with the picture of a distraught child in their home page) and then try to ask for donations as an equivalent of the public’s concrete sympathy against it. It is difficult to argue against the website or the organization behind it because it is taking a popular cause which is to help children affected by war. If one will oppose it, say for example, by saying that the website is just a propagandist act to discredit the Assad regime by indirectly blaming the regime as the one that have caused it, one is already defeated and even crucified in the court of public opinion because such disagreement will be seen as an affront against children. Especially when the website emphasized that there are millions of children affected by war and that they are trying to help.
The organizers or the organization behind the website craftily used media theory of court of public opinion or in this case, may be appropriately reworded as appealing to public emotion not only to raise awareness to their cause or to advocate against violence to children, but also to raise money for the children. And just like the theory states, there is no judge or jury who would evaluate and judge if indeed their advocacy or cause is legitimate or just, but only the popularity of the cause they raised to win public opinion and support and hopefully, money as well. Other cause oriented organizations have managed to overcome the shortcoming of the lack of a judge or a trained arbiter in using the court of public opinion theory by registering through a public watchdog or have themselves audited by a competent third party auditors to attest the legitimacy of their cause and the proper use of funds they have collected. In this website, the limitation on the use of court of public opinion theory is not overcome because it did not state that they are being audited by a competent party nor have they registered to any non-profit watchdog.
- Botan, C. (2009). Theories and Effects of Public Relations. 21st Century Communication: A Reference Handbook 21st century communication: A reference handbook, 698-705. Children of Syria. (n.d.).