Lost for words

Monday, the first day of Greece’s «mother of all trials,» put television journalists in a difficult position… In our age of televised journalism and live reports, the «event» is its image; the spoken word has become supplementary. So, how can journalists trained to provide such reportage suddenly operate without image and sound? In the scramble to fill their abundant television slots and having just a few photographs and in-court statements, TV channels made every effort to make their newscasts more alluring with the theatrical re-enactment of dialogues, musical accompaniment, etc. Language, the spoken word, was suddenly the protagonist. Television reporters were obliged to describe and to comment upon the proceedings. Television journalism without images is like tzatziki without garlic. The role of the mediator is undermined and the report must follow the rules of narration. The limits of the spoken word may be flexible but the technique of description is demanding – it presupposes a range of expression, subtle correlation and creativity. In an age of image overload, we are more likely to remember something heard rather than seen. Monday’s coverage was sparse but soothing. There was no strict format; hesitation and discomfort were welcome. Isolated from the temptation to transform the trial into a spectacle, the television media was obliged to mobilize other latent functions. The result was sometimes comical, sometimes accomplished, but always more humane…

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