When Sound Bites Become the News: A Case Study on Manufacturing News in Croatia
Keywords:television news, sound bite, politics, democracy, journalism, political quote
AbstractMedia environment is rapidly changing and facing a widespread crisis in journalism. It is followed by the decline of audience trust and increasing market pressures. The main goal is to win the audience’s attention, very often by creating drama and producing ‘conflict’. The news is not based on something that really happened and that is relevant, but it is more often manufactured or artificially produced. In this case study we explore the curious life cycle of a sound bite from a passing remark by the then Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović’s to the headlines, discussions and extensive reports which developed over the course of several days. This example shows how news could be manufactured and content blurred when it is built around a fragment without providing the context, in this case a political quote. For several days, politicians, experts, war veterans, but also ordinary citizens were involved in the manufactured news story without making a reference to the context. Consequently, the democratic debate was avoided. Drawing on a discussion of news fragmentation as isolation from context, we show that in this case, news values (what news is) are increasingly blurred, preventing the news from becoming the source of information and discussion of the country’s key issues.
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