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Unformatted text preview: have come to expect from MTV, they also provide informative
discussions of Bush and Kerry’s stances on the Iraq war and terrorism, job creation,
environmental policy, gay marriage, college loans, and other topics. On the Trail further
provides a look at Bush and Kerry’s approach to campaigning, especially through the eyes
of young supporters.
Much of Yago’s labor is to build credibility for the journalistic institution of MTV
News, which he does in part by grounding his identity in the familiar professional
paradigm. This is evident in his use of the pronoun ‘‘we,’’ a rhetorical device through which
broadcast journalists construct their authority (Baym, 2000). ‘‘We wanted to know,’’ he says
in On the Trail , and on TRL he tells the audience, ‘‘we just did a poll.’’ Here he speaks in the
voice of the ‘‘institutional we,’’ positioning himself as an expert member of a hierarchically
privileged agency that seeks knowledge and commands the resources to do so. This
discursive effort is most explicit in the program Work It . At one point Yago does an oncamera ‘‘standup’’ in what appears to be a newsroom, that despite the fact that it is
unlikely MTV maintains a ‘‘newsroom’’ in any traditional sense of the word. The newsroom
can be understood as a privileged site in the circuit of knowledge production, a locus of
institutional authority closed to most members of the public. The program also features a 387 Downloaded By: [Ohio State University Libraries] At: 01:44 26 September 2007 388 GEOFFREY BAYM segment in which Yago travels to India to report on outsourcing. ‘‘I went half-way around
the globe,’’ he says, to learn why American jobs were migrating out of the country. His
report is quality journalism * a revealing exploration of the economic attractiveness of
India * and it also authorizes him as a member of an elite news-gathering team, one that
can send its people ‘‘half-way around the globe’’ to uncover the story.
When they speak as institutional we, broadcast journalists invoke the authority of
their profession’s celebrated history, the lega...
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