Textual analysis and TV News – What examples can you use to support various themes in exam questions?

Transparency – the studio or the way the news is presented as coming to the viewer without being censored!

  • Glass e.g. BBC and opaque glass walls behind presenters or on Look East where the window behind looks out on the Norwich Castle Mall Shopping Centre, or BBC Breakfast which looks across the Thames…
  • Blue / green screens, sometimes even the floor e.g. ITV CGI’s projected on floor and walls e.g. during the Iraq war when there was a map of the region and the presenter stood in the middle of it explaining…
  • Use of outside broadcast to increase believability factor even when there’s nothing going on e.g. the shot of the aeroplane con trail and the presenter saying ‘even if that’s not his plane…’ (See tape with TWTM and NN) i.e. completely pointless! Or the footage of the Charles Kennedy story at the closed shop!
  • Perhaps easier to appear transparent now with so much amateur video or even camera phone footage available now e.g. first from 9/11 then from the Tsunami and more recently the London Bombings.
  • But the fact that Michael Buerk’s Ethiopian Famine Story would never have got to our screens had it not been for the lack of other international or important home news at that time, shows how easy it is to miss a story of such horrid significance or scale.
  • The fact that the government criticised the BBC for its anti-war stance over the Falklands or even more recently over the Iraq war and of course the now infamous 45 minute dossier, when the BBC was again hauled over the coals and punished for its ‘daring challenge’ to the government, again indicates that there is a preferred view or reading which is dictated by the current ideology of the country.
  • The demonisation of Saddam Hussein (as per Propp’s categories of characters) as akin to Hitler and the assumption that the viewing public must agree with that assessment gives no thought for those who might not see things that way; or that the terrorists are always Muslim nowadays and Islam has become a threat, no wonder that ethnic minorities are turning off in droves.
  • Editing too suggests links and attitudes by the privileged camera angles for some or the amount of time given to others.
  • Transparency always fails as soon as something goes wrong with the technology!
  • The number of different segments which make up any one story: live interviews, video, archive, expert comment, CGI etc. all increases the appearance of ‘realism’ or transparency.

Audience – things done to gain, retain or increase an audience:

  • Younger better looking presenters e.g. Fiona Bruce, Kirsty Young, Natasha Koplinski, also remember the new face of Newsnight Emily Maitlis and her comment that television is a ‘lookist industry and people need to get over that fact’. (Guardian March 06)
  • Representatives of ethnic groups e.g. Krishnan Guru Murthy Channel 4
  • Mise en scene of studios and use made of it e.g. Channel 5 multi-coloured, two-level, young presenter, walking around
  • Language e.g. ‘Hi and welcome’ Newsround, the use of the personal ‘you’ and the invitation to re-join next time: ‘Join us again won’t you,’ T McD


Celebrity and Tabloidisation of news


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