media events paper

The new journal International Journal of Communication has its first issue online. It has a Creative Commons license, which is interesting. Also interesting is the lead article “‘No More Peace!’: How Disaster, Terror and War Have Upstaged Media Events” by Elihu Katz and Tamar Liebes. Of course it is based on the notion of ‘media events’ developed by Dayan and Katz in their famous work. There are a number of very interesting points in this essay. They suggest that:

That media ceremonies are being upstaged, as we think, can be readily explained. First of all, there have been major changes in the technology and organization of broadcasting institutions. Channels have multiplied, and, because of fierce competition, they are less likely to band together, or to join hands with establishments—as once they did—in national celebrations. Television equipment, moreover, has become highly mobile—and ubiquitous.These institutional changes (1) have scattered the audience and undermined the shared experience of broadcasting (2) have taken the novelty out of live broadcasting, and (3) have socialized us to “action” rather than ceremony, to a norm of interruption rather than schedule.

Firstly, the use of ‘action’ needs more attention. In the sense I wrote about in my rant against spatial metaphors in gaming, it is a question of the distribution of action within the event. Is this how MSM have become more ‘game like’ which has nothing to do with graphics or form but in the relaying of particular types of action in relation or proximity to other types of action?

Secondly, a norm of interruption surely would an expectation of interuption, wouldn’t it? So the expectation of interuption then relies on structurated process of engagement. Whenever something happens, and it inevitably will, the response has been appreicated if not calculated beforehand. Doesn’t this dovetail nicely into notions of governmental states of emergency, so that what Katz and Liebes are describing is actually the media dimension of these governmental modes? (Particularly if what is at stake is the synergistic production of congruent media audiences and political constituencies.) This is a distant problem related to that faced by the poststructuralists in the 1960s, evidenced by Deleuze’s work as he shifted from his structuralist mode of engagement to a properly machinic mode.

Third, related to my work, if the broadcast event can not be shared, then what is shared? Something certainly is still shared. Again the temporality of the non-broadcast media event needs to be better understood than purely in reference to the actual event being transmitted through the media. Or, in other words, a singular absolute (or extensive) time and space is simply wrong, and the duration of non-broadcast media events needs to be better understood.

Fourth, a point related to the below:

In other words, if media events cause journalists to feel queasy about being exploited in the service of establishments, they should also be wary—in marathon mode—of unwittingly serving the anti-establishment.

The upcoming conference is on ‘global media events’ at first I thought they would necessarily want something that is global in a terrestrial sense of the Earth, which is what I think they do actually want. However, it may be more useful to talk about media events from a global perspective derived from systems theory and the like. This is useful for getting around the (quaint) use of ‘anti/establishment’ terminology, because thinking about it in these terms of establishment or not is necessarily taking a local perspective on a media event no matter how large it is in terms of broadcast or effect. It is local to the social structurations of whatever is the established establishment. As an event, precisely in the performative sense that Katz and Liebe start to allude to (pg 2 of paper, 158 of journal), such occasions would necessarily involve reconfigurations in the structuration of social relations. The problem pertaining to the scale of events becomes acute.

There was nothing about events being assembled from below. ‘New media’ mustn’t have media events…

[edit: wow, fixed up most of my half sentences and missing words. i get less dyslexic the more coffee i drink.]