Media events as holidays of mass communication
The authors introduced media events as “the holidays of mass communication.” They introduced the topic to the readers by citing recent examples of what can be treated as media events. From a general overview of the nature of such events, the authors then move towards providing the readers with a view of what can be liked to media events.
As such, they described media events as “television ceremonies” or “festive televisions”, thereby pointing out that media events resemble the main characteristics of being festive, being akin to a celebration, and much more like that of a very big event for the mass media.
After providing the readers an overview of the description of media events through finding events that have features akin to such, the authors then set the grounds for the detailed description and analysis on the nature of media events. Such was done through the establishment of the nature of television genres.
So as to provide the readers a clear delineation of the uniqueness of television from the other media tools, the authors introduced the concept of television genres. The authors pointed out that in the same way that films and print publications are classified, television shows also have their own genres. However, the ways by which the genres of the movies and print publications are classified, differ from the pattern that television genre classification follows.
Television genres are not classified according to those features used in film genre classifications such as themes, plots, cinematography, setting, characterizations, and other elements present in the film. However, as stated by Newcomb, the first person to attempt to classify television genre, “television as a medium imposes an element of familism on each of the genres which it has inherited from the other media of popular culture.” Despite such characteristic however, the classification process for television genres does not also follow the genre categorization followed by print publications such as the text, the angle of the story, and so on.
As such, among the mentioned classifications of the television genre which the authors mentioned are the news and the soap operas. In the later part of their article however, the authors discuss the nature of media events in relation with its similarities and difference from news and the soap opera.
The first difference of media event from other television, as cited by the authors was the fact that media events are not routine. They are not akin to the broadcast news shows where a specific pattern is followed as to when the television anchors will appear and report and which segments will come after another. In the case of media events, they comprise a wide range of events- it may be a wedding of a Royal prince, an impeachment trial of the President, the death of a prominent star, or any significant event that may demand utmost attention and interest from the public. Also, media events are delivered as spontaneous events were anything can happen.
The authors also cited that media events demand and receive focused attention. They described media events as akin to an ultimate “life shocker or stopper”, where the media men will somehow dedicate their time and effort to a single event while the rest of the news- whatever relevant event that can be considered as such- will be taken as a secondary priority. As such, media events are also described as something which will then demand the attention of the public as well.
Also, the authors pointed out that media events interrupt the routine and they intervene with the normal flow of broadcasting. They cited examples where the normal line of shows was altered so as to give way to the broadcasting of media events. Such act then emphasizes the importance of the media events over the other television genres. This characteristic of media events is then overemphasized when in some cases; regular broadcasting is ultimately suspended so as to cater to the media events.
Another important feature of media events that the authors pointed out was the fact that such are delivered in a monopolistic manner most of the time. As such, one can be able to determine that something is a media event when its broadcasting invades all the television channels.
Media events are also unique because, as the authors stated, they happen live and the events are transmitted as they occur. This presents a major difference from news and other television shows such as soap operas where the show is recorded.
The authors also point out that media events call for outside reporting. By this, we mean that mass communication is delivered from a different venue- depended of the media event itself. As such it is delivered not from the usual studies where mass communication is much controlled and monitored.
However, it contrast of its being unique, the authors also site a feature which makes it similar to the other genres- the fact that media events are often pre-planned. This means that the events are announced and advertised before it actually happens.
Overall however, the authors note that the main differences of the media events are the fact that they are presented with reverence and ceremony.
In this case, we can see that the authors failed to mention the relevance of such unique characteristics- what does these attributes mean, and what are its impact to the viewers and to the whole mass media industry as well. However, the authors made important notes to ponder as they stated why such television genre should attain academic attention.
Among the many reasons they have stated are as follows:
a. Media events attract large audiences. Since the media events are delivered in a way that is highly interest catching, the viewers cannot resist but be attached to such. However, there are some points when the fact that it has large audiences makes the event qualify as a media event. Regardless of this chicken-egg scenario however, media events should be studied because it provides impending effects on a large group of public viewers.
b. Media events make us realize the potential of electronic media technology. As stated earlier, media events are delivered outside the studio, they are also not routine and as such, they serve as a challenge not only for the media personnel but for the mass media technology as well. Such moments test the efficiency and the limits of such.
c. Media events make us realize that the media has the power to form its own social network. The ability to form a unique social network is seen as more and more people are inclined to be part of the media event. This social network does not only involve the mass media personnel and the actual attendees of the event, rather it involves all of those who get hooked to their televisions just to watch the media event.
d. Media events interrupt our life patterns. By life patterns, we mean not only that of the usual television shows, but the routines in the lives of the viewers. Instead of going to social parties or watching movies, or playing golf, the viewers who get glued to watch media events does otherwise from their planned day to day activities.
e. Media events show the art of journalism and television broadcasting. Such events give everyone the glimpse of journalism and broadcasting not just at work, but as challenged. These events how the mechanics of true journalism and demand the most of it as well.
f. Media events give the people a view of the past and the future. By this, we mean that media events sometimes demand an elaborated check on the past so as to find historical links to the important event. Aside from that however, media events also allow us to assess the development of television, in accordance to its relevance to the life of the television viewing society.
Overall, the authors introduced the nature of media events by linking it with other events that we are more familiar with. After the overview, a through description of media events is delivered as its similarities and differences to other television genres are explored. Towards the end, the authors then establish the importance of media events and the need to study such.
Dayan, Daniel and Katz, Elihu. Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992)
Media Event. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000)