Fichamento: Making News (1978) — Capítulo 6

Continuando o fichamento do livro Making News. A numeração de páginas entre colchetes acompanha imediatamente cada um dos parágrafos; caso um parágrafo não a contenha, é porque a citação abarca também o parágrafo seguinte. Há uma pequena intervenção minha para marcar quando uma citação se prolonga por mais de uma página. Boa leitura!

Referência bibliográfica

TUCHMAN, Gaye. Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality. Nova York, Londres: The Free Press, 1978.

Chapter 6: Representation and the News Narrative

“Attributing to news narratives the power to raise certain questions and to ignore others may seem to digress from this book’s argument. Rather than demonstrate that news is a product of specific ways of organizing newswork, it suggests that the formal characteristics of the product of newswork guide inquiry. The power of forms cannot be dismissed.” [P. 104]

“To newsworkers, the ability to build narratives is a professional skill, learned in an earlier day through years of craft apprenticeship. [P. 105] […] the proof of skill is the ability to rise above accepted narrative forms, such as the inverted-pyramid or block styles, and still create a story that maintains the web of facticity and builds drama. Creative professionals writting may be represented by a lead sentence that backs into inverted pyramid. Omitting the “what” and “when” from the lead may serve to whet the reader’s curiosity. Professionalism may mean breaking those rules that serve as bibles for hacks.

For some reporters, professionalism means lightly edited copy. For others, or means rarely reading their published articles, since they find editing either offensive to their autonomy or destructive to their intent. Editors see their professionalism as their ability to rework reporters’ sentences so as to improve upon their intent and to locate still unanswered questions. For both editors and reporters, professionalism means following the dictates of the organization’s style, sometimes formalized in an style book, as at the New York Times.

What makes the news narrative intrinsically different from other narrative forms? Some characteristics of news writing are obvious. Stories are written in the past tense, headlines in the present. Paragraphs are short, perhaps one to three sentences. Sentences generally contain fewer than twenty words and avoid words of more than two syllables. Word order is different from that of spoken language” [P. 106]

“Yet, clearly, the language of news prose contains a special relationship to the everyday world, for like any other language, each both frames and accomplishes discourse. It is perception and it guides perception; it reconstitutes the everyday world.” [P. 107]

“Unlike written copy, film and videotape maximize the reporters’ and cameramen’s intent. One two and the written word, but cannot easily alter the recorded spoken words to insert a new phrase. Nor can one change the distance between camera and speaker, the framing of the picture, short of filming again. Some alteration is, of course, possible. One can reorder sequences of film to create an argument unintended by the person filmed or the one filming. But there are distinct limits to the alternatives possible without refilming. Those limits mean that the rules governing the visual language of news film must be more explicit and hence more accessible than the rules governing the reading and spoken word.” [P. 107]

“[…] news film presents itself to us as actual representations, not as symbols and signs manipulated by set conventions. These self-presentation is specifically contained in the word used by newsworkers and filmmakers to indicate film taken of events in progress. Applied to demonstrations, wars, public meetings, [P. 108] and other sorts of seemingly nonstaged gatherings, that term is “actuality”. […] To paraphrase Goffman (1974: 450), the acceptance of representational conventions as facticity makes reality vulnerable to manipulation. Identifying those conventions as artful manipulations enables one to regard filmed events as social accomplishments — the product of newswork.” [P. 109]

“News film casts an aura of representation by its explicit refusal to give the appearance of manipulating time and space. Instead, its [P. 109] use of time and space announces that the tempo of events and spatial arrangements have not been tampered with to tell this story. By seeming not to arrange time and space, news film claims to present facts, not interpretations. That is, the web of facticity is embedded in a supposedly neutral — not distorted — synchronization of film with the rhythm of everyday life. Like the construction of a newspaper story, the structure of news film claims neutrality and credibility by avoiding conventions associated with fiction.” [P. 110]

“News film’s arrangement of space also eschews dramatic conventions to create an aura of facticity.” [P. 111]

“For a news cameraworker, facticity is produced by meeting and event “head on,” with camera placement fixed to simulate the angle of a person of average height confronting another person eye to eye. All else is condemned as “distortion,” and the team responsible for the affronting footage is likely to receive an official reprimand.” [P. 112]

“In filming one person, the head-on perspective is maintained. Neither the dignitary nor the newsworkers are transformed it into a tornadolike mass. Filming the newsworkers-as-mass would show that newsworkers (not the flow of occurrences) create views, and so would challenge the credibility of news. Such an overview would reveal that much of the excitement of the event has been generated by newsworkers. And just as newspapers reporters use quotation marks to claim impartiality and credibility, so, too, news footage must avoid implying that newsworkers and organizations generate both occurrences and their rendition as events. Supposedly, to imply involvement is to undermine the web of facticity.” [P. 115]

“In general, news film’s adaptations of social roles stress neutrality. By news neutrality I do not mean the refusal to take sides in a dispute, for the anchoring of the newsnet in time and space necessarily involves the news organization in the process of legitimation. Rather, I mean that the visual portrayal of roles [P. 115] stresses noninvolvement: Reporters filmed at the scene of a story are clearly portrayed as being removed from, and uninvolved in, the action sequences. Both reporters and newsmakers are framed as officials and professionals, as one would see them if one set in front of their desks. These social meanings — seeming representations — are achieved by filmic conventions regarding camera range. The framings are designed to be neither intimated nor distant.” [P. 116]

“The distinction between cinematic detachment and participation connotes neutrality.” [P. 121]

“To state that television newsworkers customarily use certain framings to convey social roles is to suggest that television news film employs a lexicon of standard shots. […] Such limitation strongly suggests that television news speaks through codes. The visual detachment of reporters from the phenomena placed in the background may be seen as a code for detachment. Additionally, news film codifies places and events.” [P. 121]

“Consider some standard shots commonly used in television footage to claim representational facticity. First, by framing reporters in front of easily identified symbolic locations, news film informs viewers that the reporter is actually at the scene of the story. […] [P. 121]

Second, events are coded by the supposed sense of the ongoing activity. […]

Third, people are presented symbolically. Not only are they garbed in the clothing appropriate to their occupation, but also nonlegitimated individuals are made to typify all members of their particular group or class.” [P. 122]

“Said to lend drama and human meaning to the news (E. J. Epstein, 1973), symbols accomplish two factors associated with the web [P. 122] of facticity. They provide “actual” supplementary evidence: People as symbols tell of the impact of news events upon their lives so that the reporter need not present interpretations. The symbols thus “protect” reporters from presenting themselves as being involved in the story. And the use of symbols strengthens the distinction between legitimated newsmakers and “just plain folks.” […] Although they are said to be representatives of the people by dint of their legitimated positions and power, they speak for themselves. But symbols are only symbols: people with ideas and opinions are not news in and of themselves. They are not representatives but assumed to be representations of others who are coping with a mutual dilemma. When the dilemma has passed — the strike has ended or the town has started to recover from the hurricane — the symbol loses all news value, and once again is merely an ordinary person undifferentiated from the mass of ordinary people, i.e., a member of the public.” [P. 123]

“Facing ideosyncratic material, film and videotape editors and those supervising their work would have to spend more time than usual working on the material; they would have to decipher the crew’s version of the story and match the decoding to their own version of what the story should be.” [P. 124]

“A television crew that turned in ideosyncratic material would risk seeing its conception of the story transformed by editors facing a crush of stories to be edited and aired. Taking extra time to work on the ideosyncratic footage, the technician assigned the material might develop a backlog of work. In both cases, the film crew and technician face organizational problems.” [P. 125]

“Film or videotape that conforms to the accepted narrative forms facilitates work by other staff members.” [P. 125]

“The usual narrative form is associated with professionalism, satisfies organizational needs, and is familiar to the average Western television viewer.” [P. 127]

“For the television staff, professionalism connotes following the narrative forms in a way that satisfies notions of continuity and variation, each of which has technical and contextual applications. That is, the staff wants to present a story that is both technically and textually continuous, but they wish the story to have sufficient filmic variation to interest the viewer.” [P. 128]

“[…] visual variation as framing device leads film crews and other personnel to “think visually,” as they put it. The newsworkers dislike running too many stories comprised of talking heads. To avoid such visual boredom, they introduce other visual elements whenever possible.” [P. 129]

“The invocation of visual variation relies upon the lexicon of television news framings, any of which, if shown long enough (at least ten seconds), can register its claim to represent the web of facticity.” [P. 130]

“Newspaper feature stories require more careful editing then hard news because they are frequently built upon twists in newspaper narrative style. On television, too, soft news requires more editorial work, because features often aim to incorporate a poetic, not a narrative, vision. The use of narrative forms applied to hard news is suspended.” [P. 131]

“[…] the news narrative raises some questions and ignore others specifically because its style and format are visual incorporations of themes dominating the organization of newswork.

The news media’s bureaucratic organization of time and space is reified in the news narrative’s organization of frames of film. And the use of filmic conventions and narrative forms enables reporters to ensure that their rendition of stories will not be mauled by editors. It facilitates the news organization’s ability to be flexible, to move reporters from story to story during the day. It enables film crews to cover any assignment, to be generalist who can transform any idiosyncratic occurrence into a conventional news event.” [P. 132]

Obras citadas

EPSTEIN, Edward Jay. News From Nowhere: Television and the News. Nova York: Random House, 1973.

GOFFMAN, Erving. Frame Analysis. Filadélfia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974.

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