Bayam.2007.MTVs Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election

Against the fragmenting tendencies of local

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Unformatted text preview: montage of publics’’ who emerge through shared language, discursive processes, and intersubjective meanings. Members of such publics relate to the political domain less in the universal language of professional journalism than through vernacular rhetorics that rely on ‘‘public-specific standards’’ to reach judgments on matters of perceived importance. Against the fragmenting tendencies of local vernaculars and multiple discursive communities, unitary language imposes a tenuous hegemony, constraining interpretations of the political domain around a few nodal points. Inevitably some voices are denied representation, some models of potential authority rendered illegitimate. Hauser envisions a ‘‘contest for authority’’ waged in public discourse, the losers of which are marginalized, finding their concerns and identities elided in the dominant forms of public language. For Bakhtin, such discursive hegemony only can maintain itself in times of sociopolitical centralization and relative cultural isolation. By contrast, periods of decentralization inevitably lead to the breakdown of unitary language. Likewise, Williams and Delli Carpini (2003) argue that significant changes in the nature of the media environment can lead to a disjuncture between media practices and audience expectations, one which renders earlier paradigmatic assumptions open to critical examination. Undoubtedly, western culture is experiencing such a moment of decentralization and disjuncture. The media environment has become defined by fragmentation encouraged by radical technological and cultural changes. The ongoing proliferation of media channels has fractured the landscape, challenging long-held assumptions about mass audiences and necessitating the development of narrowly crafted content aimed at specific demographic clusters. At the same time, continued technological advances are significantly lowering entry barriers to production in terms of required capital, technical 385 Downloaded By: [Ohio State University Libraries] At: 01:44 26 September 2007 386...
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