|A Tale of Two Cities |
In This Week's Print Issue: New
Editors in Pennsylvania Carve Their Own Niches
|REPORTER'S DIGITAL HOW-TO
By Charles Bowen
|OCTOBER 21, 2003|
Research Famous Speeches Online
AmericanRhetoric.com Has Text, Audio
has been a little slow at picking up on what should be a natural for
this ever-hungry data fiend: preserving the spoken words of famous
global citizens. In the early days of cyberspace, I envisaged a Web
that would make transcripts of speeches available within minutes --
or at least within hours -- of their delivery. The Internet would
put these transcripts on the table, ready for analysis by
journalists and scholars, I thought. With the latest improvements in
speech-recognition technology, I expected to see my vision realized
at any minute.
I'm still waiting. Sure,
transcription services have rolled out from time to time, but none
has had the global, journalistic approach I've been hoping for.
Still, there continue to be hopeful signs. The latest is the
intriguing database AmericanRhetoric.com -- a truly comprehensive
database of more than 5,000 speeches in a variety of formats, along
with other recorded media events. Links are arranged alphabetically
by first name and are checked for errors at least once every two
Developed and maintained by
Michael E. Eidenmuller, an assistant professor of communications at
the University of Texas, the site also features special reports. One
section is devoted to "the rhetoric of 9/11," with more than 150
links to speeches dealing with the events on and around that date.
Included is a 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden and President
Bush's address on the day of the attack.
Visit http://www.americanrhetoric.com/, where the home
page's left column links to the "Online Speech Bank." Scroll this
page to examine the latest featured speeches and related material.
You also can use your Internet browser's search option (located
under the menu bar's "Edit" option in most browsers) to find
specific subjects and speakers.
database is marked with a color-coded legend to denote the
availability of full-text, audio (usually in RealAudio format),
active links and so on. Scanning the material, I found some amazing
tidbits, such as audio of such historic moments as Babe Ruth's
farewell to baseball, an address by Calvin Coolidge, Douglas
MacArthur speaking on duty and country, and William Faulkner
accepting the Nobel Prize.
considerations for using AmericanRhetoric in your writing and
1. Still in development is a
cool new site feature called "Movie Speeches." It's a small but
2. The site's "Top
100 U.S. Speeches," also reached from the home page, indexes
American political speeches of the 20th century, ranked by 137
leading scholars of American public address.
3. If you write about the site in your news columns, be
sure to mention the "Rhetorical Figures in Sound" section, which
links to more than 200 short audio clips from well-known speeches,
movies, sermons, songs, and history-making media events.
You can read the last 20 "Reporter's
Digital How-to" columns on our index
page. Subscribers may access previous columns from our archives.
Charles Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
writes columns, articles, and books from West Virginia, and is host
of the daily Internet News syndicated radio show at
http://www.netnewstoday.com. His Web site is