Fictional Media in Political Discourse

In today’s post I’m going to be discussing the public sphere and it’s relation to the media. The Public Sphere is described by Gerard A. Hauser (2009, p.86) as:

a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment.” 

So how does media tie in with all of this? It seems that today’s media is a key member in ongoing political discussions; it not only presents issues but also facilitates the discourse between audiences. In this way, the media is it’s own public sphere. Now, we’re not just talking about mainstream news broadcasts and ABC intellectual debates here. A whole range of media is facilitating these discussions, including entertainment and social platforms.

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An example of this is the popular American drama 24. Here we see the main protagonist, Jack Bauer, save the world from terrorists in just 24 hours, often through the means of interrogation and torture. This series is an interesting example of the public sphere as it was a reaction to political issues surrounding terrorism and 9/11, being released just 2 months after the attack of the World Trade Centre (Tenenboim-Weinblat 2009, p.367). Not only this, but it also opened up new discourse throughout other media platforms. Journalists and colonists, for example, began to reference the show when talking about real-life issues surrounding the show (Tenenboim-Weinblat 2009, p.373) and even politicians responded to the show’s exaggerated interrogation methods. 

Here we see a change in media, where

“journalism no longer dominates the mediascape as the source for helping a society learn about itself.”(Berkowitz 2009, p.290)

Now, platforms such as entertainment and fictional genres play a huge part in creating discussion and helping us reflect on ourselves. This can be seen in the 24 example, where politicians and journalists drew from a fictional show in order to discuss very real issues involving interrogation methods and terrorism. It is clear that the public sphere of the media is changing, creating new ways for us to self-reflect as a society and discuss political issues.

Berkowitz, D 2009, “Journalism in the broader cultural mediascape”, Journalism, vol. 10, no. 3: 290–292

Tenenboim-Weinblatt, K. 2009, ‘“Where Is Jack Bauer When You Need Him?” The Uses of Television Drama in Mediated Political Discourse’, Political Communication, vol. 26, pp. 367- 87.

Hauser, G. A. 2009, “Vernacular Dialogue and the Rhetoricality of Public Opinion”, Communication Monographs, vol.65, no.2, pp. 83-107.


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