Posted by: JenLuecht | October 15, 2014

Are Those Real Tears? Media’s Emotional Resource Dependency in the Digital World

During the aftermath of 9/11, reporting media that did not show enough empathy and patriotism were belittled and even fired (91). This varied from the traditional status quo, where journalists are established as “objective insiders” who anchor conventional wisdom in a format that can be easily applied across issues (93).

As we see content shift from local to more global platforms, and as those who do the reporting become more intimately inseparable from the digital sphere, will their portrayal of content also adapt?

In effort to gain momentum for social change, Freedom to Marry launched a timely social media campaign that employed the use of compelling photojournalism. Our news feeds were filled with revealing photos of families, working for marriage equality amongst intense political momentum. Journalists at local newspapers followed suit, standing watch at courthouses as the first marriage licenses were granted (check out this photo-deck by The Oregonian).

These examples, along with those from 9/11 (both deemed successful reporting via their social institutions), are intimate portrayals of emotion from both the subject and the journalist. So, can journalists effectively cover emotional events without abandoning total objectivity?

As the media space expands and traditional media becomes more precarious, will the success of “new media” be more closely tied to the social system from which the content is obtained? In the new digital world, can mainstream media maintain its role as an “objective insider” and true homogenous institutional actor?

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