Comm 1000 Signature Assignments


Kellas, J. K. (2005). Family Ties: Communicating Identity Through Jointly Told Family Stories. Communication Monographs, 72(4), 365-389.

“Family stories work to construct family identity. Little research, however, has examined storytelling in families. This study examined storytelling content and process to assess the extent to which families jointly integrated or fragmented a shared sense of identity and how these discursive practices relate to family qualities. Results of a study involving 58 family triads indicate relationships between story theme (e.g., accomplishment vs. stress), person referencing practices (e.g., we-ness vs. separateness), and interactional storytelling behaviors (e.g., engagement, turn-taking). Moreover, story framing, perspective-taking, statements about selves-in-the-family, and identifying as a ‘‘storytelling family’’ emerged consistently as positive predictors of family satisfaction and functioning. The results offer a portrait of how families communicate identity and functioning in joint storytelling interactions and further position storytelling as a communication phenomenon worthy of consideration.” (Kellas, 365-389)


Fowler, C. (2009). Motives for Sibling Communication Across the Lifespan. Communication Quarterly, 57(1), 51-66.


“The sibling bond has the distinction of being the most enduring and egalitarian connection of all family relationships. Unfortunately, although siblings play an important role in one another’s lives, relatively little is known about the communication that characterizes sibling relationships. This study investigated whether the interpersonal communication motives of siblings vary as a function of age or gender. Survey data was provided by 299 respondents aged 18 to 34, 35 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65þ . There were significant differences by both age and gender for several of the communication motives.”

The first article I chose to talk about was “Family Ties: Communicating Identity
Through Jointly Told Family Stories ”.  Out of the two articles we were given to read, this one was the one that I identified the most.  The article describes how storytelling in families creates a culture within the family and how that is the culture that shapes us into who we are when we go out into the world.  I really appreciated how this article illustrated that to the reader when it talked about themes of the stories told within our families.  The stories that are told within our families have themes such as what the family values and how to deal with challenges that arise within each member’s life.  I have found this to be true within my own family.   I will say however, that my family is different than a lot of other families that you are thinking of.  When I think of active storytelling, I think of my wife’s family.  They are definitely active storytellers and we spend hours just talking.  The part of this article that talked about “Shared Joint-Storytelling” is what came to mind while I thought about my in-laws.  Whenever stories are told, it seems like everyone in the family has a little piece of the story to add which causes it to turn out even better.  My family on the other hand, is much different.  I grew up in a household with two wonderful, loving, yet very conservative parents.  My father is quiet and came from a family with a culture much different than the one I grew up with.  The same is true with my mother.  With this being said, Storytelling was a rare occurrence in my household.  My father has always been a mystery to me since he was always so quiet.  If I ever wanted to learn about him I would have to go to my grandmother.  I remember one story in particular where my dad decided to enlist into the Air Force when he was 18 and failed to mention it to his parents.  “I nearly had a heart attack when I found out”, she told me.  I confronted my dad on this and got the full story.  He told me how he had a scout leader who was in the Air Force and it inspired him to want to join and so he did so right after graduating High School.  This had a profound impact on me, mainly because I am now serving in the armed forces.  It made me proud of my dad and helped me understand how much this country meant to him.  This has been instilled into me.  

The conclusion of this article talks about how great the evidence is that family storytelling creates identity within the family.  Having those stories within our families helps build those within the family up rather than breaking them down with negative stories.

The second article I am going to examine is entitled “Motives for Sibling Communication Across the Lifespan”.  This article is really great because it talks about how beneficially it can be to be close to one’s siblings.  One great example that the article gives is how important it is to lean on your siblings after the death of a parent.  I can imagine how that communication can be beneficial especially coming from somebody that is grieving.  I found it really interesting that this article talked about how the older people get, the kinder the siblings get to each other.  This is something I’ve definitely noticed in my own life.  

This article talks a lot about how gender makes a difference when it comes to sibling relations.  It describes how females are more emotional and how males are more closed off with their emotions.  This makes a difference when it you have two sisters compared to two brothers.  The article claims that studies have shown that women are closer than men because of their desire to connect emotionally.

The study in this article was one where they gave a certain amount of people surveys in which they rated their relationship with their siblings and different questions about how they communicate.  The research showed that the biggest reason a sibling would lean on another sibling is for the emotional and intimate aspect of it.  The smallest reason a sibling would seek a helping hand from another sibling is the escape aspect of it.  

If you compare these two articles, you will be able to see how important sibling relations and family storytelling can make a difference in a family.  For example, I gave the example of my wife and her family.  They are always telling stories and they become more colorful as each sibling and family member adds color and content to the story.  Doing so makes the story come to life. My sister always calls me asking if I remember certain things from our childhood such as a family vacation or a birthday party.  We always end up poking fun at our other siblings or looking back with fondness.  Siblings can lean on each other by sharing these stories when they get older and always offer a helping hand when worst comes to worst.  Siblings can also have the strength that they need by learning from stories that our parents tell us so when our parents pass on.  In my opinion, the most important thing that we can take away from these articles is that have a family that tells uplifting stories can build the faith of the individual members in order to take on the challenges outside of the home.  Furthermore, siblings can always rely on each other in the end because in the end they were raised in a culture that they all understand.



Nathan Mullen

Journalism Signature Assignment

Utah Valley University

April 14, 2017


Before I started college, I took the messages that the media were putting out for granted.  I had no idea about the economics, politics, and the different mediums of news sources and had no idea that I was a consumer of these things.  In my young, naive years I would always take everything how it was.  If somebody said something about somebody on the news that was negative, then I would start to formulate an opinion about that person that was negative.  This is where the media can get dangerous.  The media has a form of control on what we think and the messages that are chosen to be reported on are usually the ones that will make stakeholders the most money.  In my paper I hope to discuss these things and how they have impacted reported stories.  The story I chose to write about is the American bombings in Syria.  This story is influenced heavily by politics, visual literacy, and the different mediums in which they are presented.

Visuals always make a big difference when it comes to reporting a story.  I feel like a lot of stories are developed in order to instill fear or confusion within a populous.  The opposite could also be true.  Visuals could be used to inspire.  Vox news reports on the story and has a visual of the war in Syria.  The video shows us how it commenced, the political and social impacts, and who is involved.  This is a very powerful video that was put on the website in order to get an emotional response out of the visitors. Getting an emotional response is one way to win people over to your way of thinking. This tactic is otherwise known as Pathos and is a great communication skill.  The rest of the article goes on to pick apart the history of Assad’s regime and why President Trump’s military action on Syria happened.  From somebody reading this article (talking from personal experience), the pictures of Assad being burned and Obama with a indifferent look on his face really struck me.  It showed me that the people of Syria are people who feel like they deserve basic human rights in which they’re government isn’t willing to provide.  The picture of indifferent President Obama illustrates to me that the writers of this article are casting light on Obama’s “non-intervention”.

One of the things that I love to do when a current event happens is see what foreign news agencies are saying about the topic.  For example, I am a huge fan of BBC news as well as Vice news because of their outside perspective on things.  In a BBC News YouTube broadcast, they talk about the United State’s and the missile attack on an airbase.  They talk about how the Trump administration has seemed to be “disorganized and at times dysfunctional”  from the outside in.  This is a great perspective because we as Americans watch the news everyday and see new things come about from our new Commander in Chief.  The American missiles that were shot at a Syrian air base were a perfect example of how other countries form opinions about America.  The BBC video showed pictures of children in the hospital during the reporting of the event.  To me, it seems like BBC was supportive of the military action because of all those who ended up suffering from the chemical attacks.  The support is generally felt from around the board even inside U.S. newsrooms.  I was really surprised to come across an article on CNBC’s website with a video that showed a great deal of support for the missile attack.  It is a video of experts talking about how it sends a strong message to leaders all around the world that the United States doesn’t mess around.  I think that this is definitely a nationalistic mindset of Americans at this point.

The U.S. Naval strike on the Syrian airfield was such an important event that it was broadcasted over various channels.  These different channels can cause different kinds of effects on the consumers.  A great example of this is the video that I talked about before.  It is one thing to read about children being victims of Assad’s chemical attack, but another to show it on screen.  It’s also one thing to read about the history of the conflict in Syria but another to watch it unfold before you.  I will however, argue that watching President Trump’s press conference about the event was less effective than reading it.  For example, in an article published by USA Today, that exact press conference is quoted to add weight to the story.  The article state the Vivid details:  “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”.  (Brook and Korte, 2017)

As I read through and watched the reports on this story, it was really interesting to explore how different mediums, nationalities, and the visuals used can affect those who read the stories.  In my introduction paragraph I talked a lot about how in my opinion, many stories have been produced only because those who own the media outlet want that story to be reported on.  With that being said, it may be true but I hope I have been able to show you that there are a lot more things that affect the outcome of a story then just economics.  The biggest contributors in my opinion being different mediums, visuals, and the nationalities reporting on the stories.


V, T., Brook, E., & Korte, G. (2017, April 08). U.S. launches cruise missile strike on Syria after chemical weapons attack. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from


  1. (2017, April 07). Syria war: US launches missile strikes in response to ‘chemical attack’ – BBC News. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from


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APA MLA Chicago
Beauchamp, Z. (2017, April 08). The war in Syria, explained. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from


Rosenfeld, E. (2017, April 07). Trump launches attack on Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from


A Take on How the Mass Media May Be More Totalitarian Than You Think.

Totalitarian Media
by Nathan Mullen

        Totalitarian media is prevalent in American society today.  Not in the way that you think of.  The control of media has been more subtle than ever, and most Americans aren’t even aware that a lot of it is regulated.  It’s creeping subtleties continue to challenge the Libertarian theory of the press, limiting what information is spread to the masses and what information is held back, ultimately seizing control of our minds.  In my essay I will make 3 points on how all of this is true.  The first is how powerful corporations influence the media and control what we view.  The second is  how the media has become means of mindless and ugly entertainment which has made us subjects to whatever messages the powerful and wealthy want us to know.  The third point of this essay I will discuss exactly WHY large corporations want to control the media.

        According to my research, back in 1983 about 50 corporations had control of most of the media we consumed. Today, that 50 has been reduced to six.  That means that six large corporations, (Disney, News Corporation, Time Warner, Viacom, and CBS Corporations.  These are always changing due to merging and buyouts of the companies) control what is on the tv screen, the radio, and in the newspapers.  Why does this even matter?  Because according to former Wall Street Journalist Jonathan Kwitney,  “the more powerful they are the more their interests tend to be similar and if they control also the means of communications, then are more limited the kind of things that are going over those means of communications.”  In the Documentary Fear and Favor in the Newsroom, Francis Cerra, a New York Times investigative reporter, found herself up against the Editors themselves when exposing the wrongdoings of large corporations.  The editors explained to her that the investigative stories were “not what they wanted.”  They would prefer to have articles “people can use” such as where to spend their money.   The power that these corporations have is great because  “We live at a time when it is absolutely imperative to think for ourselves… but most Americans are being absolutely overwhelmed with information and seem more than content to let others do their thinking for them.”

        The Corporation’s mentioned above acquire a great deal of power through the merging and purchasing of companies.  In Cleon Skousin’s book “The Naked Communist” he describes 45 subtle goals Communists (or anyone seeking for power) use to gain control over the people. To achieve their goals they  ”[Infiltrate] the press… [Gain] control of key positions in radio, TV & motion pictures… [break] down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio and TV.”  All these things we can see in our society happening today.  The constant exposure of these images of immorality and pornography has dulled our ability to think for ourselves, and allows outside influences to control our mindsets and values.  Our minds are constantly concentrating on the shallow, influencing our behavior negatively.  “Take for example the game, Grand Theft Auto. When adult males play this game their values are altered. They become more accepting of drugs and violence after only one week of playing, based on pre and post testing.” The rising generation is particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed. “In a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 76 percent of teens said that one reason young people have sex is because TV shows and movies make it seem normal for teens.”  Teenagers are especially vulnerable to these sexual messages because “these messages [bombard] teens at a stage when they are in the midst of developing their values and beliefs around gender roles, sexual behaviors and attitudes”

       The messages the media produces can lead to great individual destruction.  “The shift in societal values away from collectivism and toward individualism, away from civic responsibility and toward self-gratification, and away from meaningful contributions to society and toward personal success, [has contributed] to the cultural message of narcissism.” These vain messages can hurt those of us who are more emotionally and even mentally vulnerable.  I think about the standard that the media has set for males and females.  In the documentary Miss Representation it talks about the damage that the sex driven media has specifically done to women and girls.  “You never see a photograph of a woman considered beautiful that hasn’t been digitally altered to make her absolutely inhumanly perfect.  Girls are being encouraged to achieve that ideal at younger and younger ages all the time.  They end up measuring themselves against an impossible standard.”  This is just another example of how big of an influence the media has on the public.

        A lot of the current animosity towards Muslims comes from the messages in the mainstream news. According to Nieman Reports (an alternative to mainstream source of news), CNN’s editorial boss Walter Isaacson told journalists to avoid reporting on civilian casualties when the United States began military operations in Afghanistan.  “We must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000 people.” The reason Walter Isaacson pressed this on his journalists was because he didn’t want the American public to have a bad opinion of the war, aiding the enemy by losing public support.  If these corporations that are behind the media can effectively sway us into believing that Muslims are evil, then they can justify even greater their war on resources in the Middle East.

        Censorship is something that not many Americans think about. After all, isn’t the press completely free?  The United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law….abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the press…”  It protects the press from the government taking control of the media and protects those who are reporting.  So why are there forms of censorship in American Media?  In the 1998 documentary Project Censored:  Is the Press Really Free?, Dr. Peter Phillips discusses how this is the case.  “..We don’t see it as a conspiracy.  We don’t see censorship as something the media is deliberately doing to keep the American public from being informed about certain stories.”  He explains further that “[these] huge, mega media corporations [are] large bureaucracies” that have become so consumed with making a profit and getting audience points.  He explains further that this has changed the way that news is selected and broadcasted to the public.  This is the issue again with when Francis Cerra went up against her Editors.  They wanted her to write stories that would persuade the viewers to go buy things.  The bottom line with these corporations is wealth and power.

        It is unfortunate that totalitarianism is prevalent in American society today.  Like I stated before, it is not completely in our faces, but the control of the media is very real and very subtle.  The way that I have tried to convey this point is by bringing to light the fact that most of the media we see is controlled and regulated by large corporations.  I have also discussed how the media has become shallow and is driven by sex and violence.  This has led to our minds being dulled enough for the media to come in and influence us however they wish.  The third point I made was why the large corporations do what they do.  Stated simply: Money and power.  I hope that we can all pay better attention to what we consume and not allow the mainstream media to control and affect us in any way.

Snyder, Michael. “Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read.” D.C. Clothesline. N.p., 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Lutz, Ashley. “These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 14 June 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Sanders, Beth, John Alpert, Ben Bagdikian, and Joel Beinen. “Fear and Favor In The Newsroom.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

Snyder, Michael. “7 Things About The Mainstream Media That They Do Not Want You To Know.” Infowars. N.p., 21 May 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Skousen, W. Cleon. “Chapter 12/ Current Communist Goals.” The Naked Communist. Salt Lake City: Ensign Pub., 1958. N. pag. Print.

Taylor, Eldon. “Moral Stories and the Media.” The Huffington Post., 6 June 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

“Teen Health and the Media.” Teen Health and the Media. University of Washington, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Grant, Christina. “Teens, Sex and the Media: Is There a Connection?” Paediatrics & Child Health. Pulsus Group Inc, May-June 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Taylor, Dr. Jim. “Are the Media Creating a Generation of Narcissists?” The Huffington Post., 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Zelnick, Bob. “War Reporting: How Should Civilian Casualties Be Reported?” Nieman Reports War Reporting How Should Civilian Casualties Be Reported Comments. N.p., 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

“Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. From the United States Constitution.” Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Jensen, Carl, Peter Phillips, and Mickey Huff. “Project Censored: Is the Press Really Free? The 1998 Documentary.” YouTube. Differential Films, 12 June 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Aguilera, Christina, Michelle Bachmann, Chris Baker, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “Miss Representation.” YouTube. Girls Club Entertainment, 13 May 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.