Restyling Factual TV: Audiences and News, Documentary and Reality Genres

Routledge
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Addressing the wide range of programmes and formats from news, to documentary, to popular factual genres, Annette Hill’s new book examines the ways viewers navigate their way through a busy, noisy and constantly changing factual television environment.

Restyling Factual TV addresses the wide range of programmes that fall within the category of 'factuality', from politics, to natural history, to reality entertainment.

Based on research with audiences of factual TV, primarily in Sweden and the UK, but with reference to other countries such as the US, this book tackles issues such as legitimacy, ethics and value in contemporary news and current affairs, documentary and reality programming.

Drawing on the ethics of truth-telling and notions of quality, this wide-ranging, authoritative book expands the debate on popular factual entertainment and will be a welcome addition to the current literature.

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About the author

Annette Hill is Professor of Media and Research Director of the School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster. Her previous publications include Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television (2005), the Television Studies Reader (with Robert C. Allen, 2003), TV Living: Television, Audiences and Everyday Life (with David Gauntlett, 1999) and Shocking Entertainment: Viewing Responses to Violent Movies (1997).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Jun 11, 2007
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9781134181124
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Language
English
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Genres
Performing Arts / Television / General
Performing Arts / Television / History & Criticism
Social Science / Media Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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This new collection of essays seeks to focus on three areas where television has recently been in an intriguing state of flux. Taking as our background the emergence of multimedia conglomerates and cash-rich cable channels, we look at the way old national terrestrial channels and the brash new internationally commercialized ones have innovated in the domain of television programming. In all there are fourteen original essays, an introduction to the book’s theme by the editor and a foreword by Professor Annette Hill.

Section one “Realizing the Real” looks at contemporary patterns of television consumption and the presentational styles which package the real in news, current affairs and other ‘live’ television formats. Essays on rhetorical strategies in the news coverage of the war in Iraq, on national and international inflections of Sky News in Europe and coverage of the recent EURO2004 football tournament, as well the multi-channel reporting of a prominent paedophilia scandal, are presented in this section. They all analyse the extent to which the grounded and the local are threatened and distorted by hegemonic forces in media today. The findings of a comprehensive new study of Portuguese social practices and viewing habits are also featured in this section.

Section Two “Realizing Performance” addresses the way new trends in reality programming and other documentary practices have impacted on fiction and entertainment television. There are essays on the recent wave of British television comedy heavily influenced by TV newsmagazine and fly-on-the-wall documentary styles and two pieces on new American series, 24 and CSI, which have revolutionized the narrative parameters and evidential base for thrillers and cop shows respectively, coming up with new ways to ‘perform’ space, time and science. Finally there is an essay on Nigel Kneale’s The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968), a survivor from the era of the single play who seems to anticipate the future of television in reality-based gameshow-style entertainment. Each of these essays shows that the success of these programmes is dependent on a fresh restylization of the conventions and formulas which govern mainstream television programming. They therefore see the representation of the real in fiction as primarily an aesthetic reappraisal.

Section Three “Performing the Real” looks at the explosion in reality television programming itself. It focuses on the coming to pass of 70s and 80s theorists’ visions of both a passive voyeuristic society and one increasingly at peace with the notion of surveillance. We have been progressively acculturated to watching and being watched. Orwellian anxiety has given way to Baudrillardian acceptance of the message and the medium fused in a new order of mediated reality or hyperreality. Essays refer specifically to the globalization of shows and formats and their local inflections and to coverage of reality shows in print media and on the net. There are essays on The Bachelor and gender stereotyping, Joe Millionaire and the conventions of melodrama, and two on Big Brother, one on the problems of communication within a sealed environment and another on its reception in Portugal. Concerns about the self and its authenticity are consistency raised in all the essays of this section.

The paranormal has gone mainstream.

Beliefs are on the rise, with almost half of the British population, and two thirds of Americans, claiming to believe in extra sensory perceptions and hauntings. Psychic magazines like Spirit and Destiny, television shows such as Fringe, Ghost Whisperer and Most Haunted, ghost-cams and e-poltergeists, bestselling books on mind, body and spirit, and magicians like Derren Brown have moved from the outer limits to the centre of popular culture, turning paranormal beliefs and scepticism into revenue streams.

Paranormal Media offers a unique, timely exploration of the extraordinary, unexplained and supernatural in popular culture, looking in unusual places in order to understand this phenomenon. Early spirit forms such as magic lantern shows or the spirit photograph are re-imagined as a search for extraordinary experiences in reality TV, ghost tourism, and live shows. Through a popular cultural ethnography, and critical analysis in social and cultural theory, this ground-breaking book by Annette Hill presents an original and rigorous examination of people's experiences of spirits and magic. In popular culture, people are players in an orchestral movement about what happens to us when we die. In a very real sense the audience is the show. This book is the story of audiences and their participation in a show about matters of life and death.

Paranormal Media will be a highly interesting read for undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as academics, on a wide range of television, media, cultural studies, and sociology courses.
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