Journalism as Narrative

One cannot spend long listening to mainstream media without realising that a “narrative” is being laid out. By narrative, I mean a conversation, a view point, a focus upon a certain perspective [character] with a certain struggle [crisis] and seeking a certain resolutions [catharsis].

This is well acknowledged by commentators. Factoids are thrown about such as “more people are killed by obesity than by shark attacks” or “more people die walking down the street than in plane crashes” or most significantly, “more people die daily from prevantable diseases and hunger than in terrorist attacks.” Yet the media has a narrative to tell and mostly this narrative is driven by what the audience, the readers, are interested in reading or viewing. Unashamedly appealing to the feelings and fears of the viewers, media will focus on the shark attacks, the plane crashes and the terrorist attacks. The viewer must supplement their world knowledge through self study.

This is a curiousity to note, especially because many of us state, “I’d rather read the news than fiction, I think the real world is interesting enough” or ” I want fact not fiction”. Journalists are bound to various codes of conduct not to perjure or malign people or companies unduly or not to insert opinion into their pieces, retaining an impartial reporterly perspective. However, the bias evident in what is reported and how it is reported is remarkable and one that the user generates.

Brandon Stanton, photographer of the wildly successful blog “Humans of New York” gave this brilliant TEDx talk in 2013. He highlights how the media selects their content and how this content does not reflect the greater reality of life. His blog seeks to counter that and tell a different narrative.

Fiction is simply another form of narrative. Let us read with discernment.

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4 thoughts on “Journalism as Narrative

  1. Its all about making people want to know more? Or perhaps to get them to buy more papers. Or is there a more sinister underlying motif? To make us unquestioning and easily led by the nose? Perhaps I am affected in the same way? But I must admit I’d rather read good fiction than the paper.

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  2. I’m sure it’s about making money – fear sells? and it’s about winning awards or gaining attention for getting a great story first ! sadly in some cases it’s encouraged by power holders to suit an agenda ie. governments may push an anti-terror and anti-islamic agenda to support a military tactic or policy. Perhpas attention diverted hides other issues the public should know or care about?

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  3. Pingback: Narrative of Identity – Part II | Bear Skin

  4. Pingback: Everyone Around You Has a Story | Bear Skin

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