Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ways of hearing

Some of you may remember an episode from John Berger’s way of seeing (the TV version) where he flicks through a Sunday Times magazine. Photos of starving refugees in Bangladesh, advertisements for aftershaves, life insurance, a grinning TV celebrity, back to the pictures of starving refugees. Incommensurate realities, co-existing on the same glossy visual plane. The culture that has produced this incoherent visual language, Berger declares, ‘is insane’. Long Sunday.
Are broadcast media any different? Take NPR news offerings, for example: Remove the scaffolding that gives Morning Edition its formal coherence - the musical segues, the aural wallpaper of the openings and transitions, the submerged metaphor of the program as a journey, or tour, "Coming up we'll talk with so and so, followed by a recap of the week's such and such" and what's left?

The sleek production techniques of program design facilitate the illusion there is some unifying perspective through which "All things [can be] considered."

But this is the structuring lie of broadcast, of news media: There is no such perspective. The illusions of intelligent design only make it seem so.


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