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“…all television, factual as well as fictional, aspires towards the condition of entertainment” – How does this apply to television news?

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Introduction

"...all television, factual as well as fictional, aspires towards the condition of entertainment" - How does this apply to television news? Television has always held the responsibility of being informative, educational and entertaining, ever since its conception in the halcyon days of Lord Reith. But to what extent do these factors link with one another? Is it possible to produce a programme, news or otherwise, that is informative and educational that still maintains audience share without employing methods of entertainment? It seems that indeed all programmes do contain elements of the three factors listed above, the news being no exception. In this essay I will distinguish the techniques used to make television news more entertaining, and why they are necessary, with references to specific examples of media texts. Initially it is important to distinguish exactly what motives the audience have for obtaining information and why they choose to do so through television news. It is now more important than ever for individuals within contemporary culture to be well informed and to have a detailed understanding of current events on a global scale. There are a number of mediums through which an individual can obtain this information. These include radio news, television news, print news and news via the Internet. Each of these of these sources have their obvious advantages and disadvantages and so there are also a number of deciding factors for which medium one should choose. ...read more.

Middle

To start with the first point, the fact that news is selected to be shown suggests that the majority of the audience will be most interested in the headlines that are initially shown. To sidestep the difficult situation of making the news appealing to as large an audience as possible, the news selects a broad range of stories and then places emphasis on the most important ones. Hence the order of delivery and mode of address may well be a faithful representation of the dominant ideology (e.g. well dressed/spoken/educated presenter, Politics/Current Events before sports), but it will still appeal to a mass audience, as its selection is broad based. For example, a city banker (part of the ruling class/dominant ideology) will know to tune in at the beginning of the programme for Current Events or Finance. However, someone of lower social status such as a young car mechanic (part of the proletariat/working class) may well be more interested in Sport and so will know to tune in at the end of the programme. Obviously such generalisations cannot be taken as concrete evidence of television news' impact on society, but the fact is that by containing such a concise but broad cross-section of news within each broadcast the television news is certainly obtaining the maximum audience share possible. The second point, that television news employs many forms of visual media to make the news more entertaining, and hence more accessible, is an important one. ...read more.

Conclusion

By presenting stories in a certain order, giving case studies of individuals, comparing recent events to other similar events ingrained in cultural consciousness etc, the television news can effectively dramatise the delivery of current events. For example, stories are often verified by taking an individual case study of the affected population, e.g. 'baby X 'not getting the operation s/he needs'' (Quoted from 'The Media Students Book'). Current events are also literally turned into stories; for example, figures constantly in the public eye are turned into characters, such as the Royal family. Finally by drawing on audience knowledge of previous or mythical events the television news can, for example, relate a third world famine to a biblical one over 2000 years ago. All of this illustrates the sophisticated system for selecting and constructing news that has developed since it's first broadcast. By having the viewer tied down to exactly what is on screen at any time by way of only using one presenter at a time, backing up evidence with 'vox pops' and industry professionals, using CG imagery etc, the television news undoubtedly manages to entertain it's audience as well as inform and educate it. Without question, the television news, while not being impartial or objective with regard to its content, still manages to successfully create the illusion that it is. By making the news clear and concise, but still entertaining to the viewer, the industry has achieved its aim of maximum penetration, while still representing the dominant ideology and being informative, educational and entertaining. ?? ?? ?? ?? JP Adamson ...read more.

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