(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Spectacle Rules Cable News

To the cable news camera, structural oppression is harder to capture than a burning cop car. Spectacle still rules cable news.

Alex Pareene, “Cable News Charnel,” The Baffler, 2015

This observation tends to gel with Bourdieu’s argument that it is market forces and other external factors that incentivize and push the field of journalism toward such ends. While some journalists and media moguls probably do cynically push spectacle for ratings or exposure, I’d bet the majority of journalism does not consciously perpetuate the cinematic narrativization of politics, war, crime and the rest. The field, driven as member to a greater socioeconomic system is pushed in these directions. Conditions incentivize the coverage of selectively simple-to-explain events and characters, and increasingly–as Pareene insinuates–complex events and states of affairs are dehistorized and narrativized and brought to the mercy of a demanding audience and the economics entailed by that dynamic.

I have to wonder, insofar as Pareene is criticizing TV news, if radio news suffers from the effects of drives toward spectacle, given that they do not usually run as robust a visual enterprise as a whole. No doubt problems of selectivity and discourse reach this field as well.


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This entry was posted on December 31, 2015 by and tagged , , .
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