The Television Viewer and the Television News: A Combative Encounter

The Television Viewer and the Television News: A Combative Encounter

Evans Matu Nguri (Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJSVR.2019010103

Abstract

Television news has been studied from a number of perspectives. Few studies have focused on the moment of the encounter between the television viewer and the news. This research focused on what takes place at the encounter as described by the viewer. Its specific research questions were: what viewer typology constructs? What key news aesthetic emerges? And what is the nature of the encounter process? These were examined in a qualitative study mainly using a phenomenological approach involving 58 participants. The study had three key findings: that the television viewer is a disturbed, reflective, and dominating person at the encounter; that an epic news genre dominates the site and process; and lastly, that the key process at the encounter is one of intertextuality through a combative, combustive fusion and filter procedure. The research argues for a new area of encounter studies.
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2. Theoretical Considerations

The research was investigating three research questions aimed at understanding the moment of encounter between the television viewer and the incoming news. The questions specifically focused on the kind of viewer who constructed at the encounter, the encounter process, and the key news aesthetic which dominantly emerged at the encounter. The three aspects would be interrelated and be the very ones that construct the uniqueness of the encounter.

The research sought to understand the encounter as a communication space and therefore the focus on the nature of those at the two ends of the communication act and whom they became as well as what the encounter became because of what they became were at the heart of the investigation.

The research first conceptualized the viewer followed by the text of incoming news and lastly the construction of meaning by viewer. The conceptualization of the television news viewer focused on four viewer aspects as follows: would the viewer be active of passive? Would he or she have preoccupations which were present at the encounter? Would the viewer have a pre-viewing motive to want to covet the news? Could it be that there is an already existing orientation in viewer on issues evoked by each news account? The research hoped that these four dimensions would help create understanding on the kind of viewer who came to the encounter and then one who constructed at the communication space.

The study thought of the concept of viewer activeness in three ways. The first was in terms of the degree of engaging the incoming news to construct meaning. This in turn would be at the intellectual level and the emotional level. Allen (1987) argues that there are three types of relationships between the reader and text consisting of a collaboration, a surrender, and resistance (Allen, 1987, p 77). The study argued that the television viewer reads into the incoming news and constructs meaning out of each account. What is the viewer like in relation to the three types of engagement identified above? Meanwhile, a second aspect of viewer activeness is argued by Baran and Davis (2006) who point out that an active audience exists and selects what to interact with from initial senders of information (Baran and Davis, 2006, p 269). The third aspect of viewer activeness is in the intensity of viewing along the light and heavy viewers in cultivation theory (Baran & Davis, 2006, p 334).

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