Trrry,rlon Cuth|n

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Objectivityis an empiricistconcept that hssbccnundorsttscLfor nl.)tt ot twentieth century, especially from structurali8m,po3t.Dinrtoiniln and psychoanalysis, nameonly someof its major theorcticul to Yet newsprofessionals cling to it asboth an achievablc still ttoulrnd r -


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justification of their role in $'estern democracies, It thug olavr an role in the ideology of news and the reading relatione that news attomptt set up with its audiences. The impossibility of objectivity and the irrelevance oI notions of bias (basedas they are upon an assumption that non. bias is possible) should be clear to readersof this book, but should not blind us to the ideological role that the concept of "objectivity" ptays. There are modal differences between the news and fiction, despite thoh similar conventions of representation. The news does appear to bear a cloro! relationship to "raw reality" than does fiction and consequently there 6rc ifferences in the way that viewers read it. Children, for example, find death in the_newsfar more disturbing than death in fiction television. News's high modality, its closer relationship to the indicative mood by which we normally represent the real, is central to a number of institutional values and practices. It underlies, for instance, what Fiske and Hartley (1978) have termed "clawback." This is a structure of reporting that works to claw back poten. tially deviant or disruptive events into the dominant value system. Thug t€levision news t)rpically works with three stagesof clawback that correspond with spacesthat are both material and symbolic. The central spaceis that of the studio news reader, who does not appear to be author ol hi"/n", o*n discourse, but who speaks the objective discourse of,,the truth.,'paradoxi. cally, the news reader's personal traits, such as reliability or credibiliF. are often used to underwrite the objectivity oI the discourse. Locating this discourse in the institutional studio signifies its ideologicat conformny: no radical, disruptive voices speak in these accentsor from this space. Spatially positioned further away and discursively subordjnated is the reportsr, who signs off as both an individual and an institutional voice. Her/ his function is to mediate between "raw reality" and the final truth spoken by the news reader. Different reporters can make different contributions to the same "truth"; they need individual signatures so that their .,truths,, appear subjective, "nominated" (Barthes 1973, see p. 290) and therefore lower rn the discursive hierarchy than the "truth" of the news reader. Furthest from the studio, both geographically and discursively, is the eyewitness, the involved spokesperson,the actuality film, the voices that appear to speak the real, and that therefore need to be brought under discursive control, There is a vital contradiction here. The "truth" exists only in the studio, yet that "truth" depends {or its authenticity upon the eyewitness and the actuality 288

lihrr, thosc piecesof "raw reality" whosemcaninguarc scttl[lly lttn(lcl)y thc rlircourse of the studio, but whose authenticating function tllows thnt rlir' course to disguise its productive role and thus to situate the meaningt in tltc ovcnts themselves. This "actuality" film, of course, is frequently not of tho cvents described in the scriPt, but may be file tape from the library' ot footage shot some time after the ev€nts occurred. Thus a story of politicll kidnappings in Lebanon was, on the ABC news of January 23, 1987, "auth' cnticated" by film of an ordinary, peaceful B€irut street: what mattercd wuE not the content of the film, but its authenticating function. Repressing the content of the film, which contradicted the meanings given to "thc Middle East" by the story, is another typical example of news's strategiesof containment at work. Clawback then is the process by which potentially disruptive €vents are mediated into the dominant value system without losing their authenticity. This authenticity guaranteesth€ "truth" of the interpretation that this medi' ating involves and thus allows, paradoxically, that which has been interPret€d to present itself as objective. Objectivity is the "unauthored" voice of the bourgeoisie. (See "Exnomination" in chapter 3, and p. 290.) Hand in glove with objectivity go authenticity and immediacy. Both these link news values in particular with qualities of television in general. For authenticity links with realisticness,and immediacy with "nowness" or "liveness," both of which are central to the experienceof television. In news, both work to promote the transparency fallacy and to mask the extent of the construction or interpretation that news involves. Immediacy is used not only to mask the production of news but also to promote television over the press and to divert attention from its means of gathering and distribution. New distribution technologies, particularly those of the satellite, have enabled the instantaneousdistribution of news oYer the whole world. The instantaneity implies that there has been no time for editorializing or reworking, that television brings us events-as-they-happen' So television channels often promote their news programs in terms of their immediacy. This emphasis on speed has another ideological effect. This is to divert attention away from the fact that satellites are very expensive means of distribution and that only large multinational news corporations can afford to to to have regular access them. News is processedinto tight satellite packages be sold in every corn€r of the world, Tho stress on speed and immediacy diverts attention from the commodification of news whose criteria of production and selection are determined by the multinational corporations such as News Limited. News gathering is as expensive as news distribution, so poorer Third World countries often find themselvesdriven by economic factors to buy "white" news of themselvesor of their neighbors.

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