chapter  8
12 Pages

Amateur images in the professional news stream

ByJOHN BRIDGE, HELLE SJØVAAG

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 prompted heavy media coverage around the world. This chapter looks at the coverage of the Bhutto assassination in the Norwegian and US media, and analyses how established news media (CNN and NBC in the US; NRK and TV 2 in Norway) used amateur footage of the assassination in their reporting. Our primary question is how amateur footage is textually embedded into the news narrative. The editing of such footage into the news and the discursive variations by which newscasters introduce, contextualize, and explain events through the amateur lens, can help to reveal how professional news organizations relate to the increasing flood of amateur footage in the news. There are variations in how these images are incorporated into the news

stories, which reveal rhetorical and narrative adaptability on the part of professional news-makers with respect to amateur materials – materials that might be said to challenge the authority and relevance of professional journalism. The case of the Bhutto assassination demonstrates two ways of incorporating such material: what we call embedding and embellishing. Our analysis reveals that CNN – a 24-hour news channel, embellishes the amateur content, while NBC, TV 2, and NRK (regular broadcasters) tend to embed the images into the prevailing frame of the news story itself. In the US case, the following analysis will focus on the coverage of one

major network, NBC, and one 24-hour channel, CNN.1 The analysis of Norwegian media coverage includes the public broadcaster NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) and the commercial public-service broadcaster TV 2.2 The purpose is to describe, analyse, and compare the presentational strategies of NBC’s, CNN’s, NRK’s, and TV 2 News Channel’s coverage of Bhutto’s assassination as case studies of how American and

European television news programmes incorporate amateur footage into their news narratives.