News Is Culture 2

If I may, I’d like to flesh out the idea of two posts ago. In re-reading I’m not sure it expresses fully the notion I attempted to convey. Hopefully I can contain it here without needing daily updates on one single thought. I’ll begin by recalling my prompt to this conclusion, or if you prefer, presupposition. CNN — it was during the weather segment when all at once everything  appeared extraordinarily American in style and format.

As the programming moved through various segments and special reports. The content remained veiled behind layers of a rhetoric of personal information. The “I”s and “me”s of the what I now want to call the news cast, not the news team, but the news cast in the sense of a crew of television series characters,  gently ate away ate the importance of the content with their assuring nature that we are all unique in our opinions.  The content became irrelevant. What was important was the sense of belonging and unity conveyed created between the TV presenters and extended on invitation to me. “Come along,” they hinted and winked, “share your thoughts. They are just as informed and authoritative as ours.”

So why am I considering this crtically? What’s wrong with being to made to feel part of the group? This is after all the evolving era of particpatory journalism as said int my first post on the topic is it not? The problem as I see it, a phrase I use ironically, for surely as I’m saying it, it’s my opinion. What need is there to clarify. None at all, like there is no need for the news cast to engage in such behaviour. But they can’t help it, whereas I am attempting to point out that this is the problem as I see it.

CNN cannot wrench itself free of presenting objective information couched in a culturally oriented form of transmission no more than Al-jazeera or the BBC. In mass media, the dissassembly of culture from information is likely impossible. Furthermore information in its own right is culture — this being the territory of memes.

Objective news in its ultimate form is digital, pure acultural information manipulted by acultural operators. But could anyone understand that?

News Is Culture

News is culture. It seems so obvious. Has it been stated like that before? News is a cultural phenomenon. So is media. News media is culture. This is what the rise in participatory journalism is teaching us. A nation’s news is like its cuisine or literature. People are raised with sets of beliefs about their homeland, a “Small but Mighty Nation”, or the “Land of Kings”, or the “Greatest Country in the World”.

A nation has a mandate, a character, a set of goals, a place in the world, a dream, an idea, a conception of self, an identity. News media utilizes national character to structure its communication. Information must be conveyed in the terms and methods the audience understands.

This underlies the basic problem surrounding debates over its objectivity. It is not the case that news reporting cannot be objective because every individual has a personality with opinions that get in the way. But because news is inherently framed within cultural contexts and modes of representation. The individual is not the problem. That’s the wrong debate. News is simply culture. And journalism is culture too.