Theatrical journalism

In journalism there are more «ifs» than in Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem. Journalists, for example, are supposed to be discreet with those in mourning. So what? We have often seen those traders of pain savage the victims even during their most sacred and bitter moments, mouthing words of grief with sadistic expressions of comfort. Moreover, journalists should not lend their voice or image for commercial purposes. So what? A fair number of famous journalists are keen to advertise anything – provided the material reward is big enough to bend the immaterial price of their conscience. Supposedly, those who work in the electronic media should refrain from dramatizing the news. And this is in order to avoid, as far as possible, adulterating the material they present and confusing consumers, the viewers, who may at some point think they are not watching a news bulletin but a melodrama. So what? For years now we have been watching the emergence of a new genre, that of «theatrical journalism.» We see self-styled journalists mixing up their roles, behaving as if they belong to the actors union, SEH, and not ESHEA, the one for journalists. They put on performances instead of providing information and commentary. They adopt an inquisitorial tone, seeking to strike an emotional chord with the audience or, worse, to stimulate their subconscious. They present the news so that it more or less agrees with the pre-scripted scenario. And they play different roles (detective, nurse, bus driver and so on) to extract information. If all this were in the public interest, then one could perhaps turn a blind eye to violations of the law. But the ease with which people stretch the notion of «public interest» to fit their own agenda reveals that invoking it is, in itself, nothing but a pretext.

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