Bayam.2007.MTVs Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election

This is evident in his use of the pronoun we a

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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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