News and Hegemony
It is undeniable that news has an effect on people’s daily life and opinions about what happened in around the world. It is common sense that news are the most truthful source as well as representation of reality. Objectivity as one of the fundamental elements of news creates sense of truth. The crucial thing is that what shapes news. It is known that news are artefacts and producing on the base of reality. However, news producers are also human being and they live in a society who naturally has affected or shaped by society’s structure and values. Each and every society has its own culture, traditions, habits and structure which are active elements in terms of human being as socially constructed. In short, it is inevitable that one can isolate himself/herself from the society. Considering news, discourse, narrative and images as components includes social, cultural and political traces. What is examined in this paper is that the concept of hegemony in relation to components of news.
Hegemony comes from the Greek word hegemonia: “leadership, a leading the way, a going first;” also “the authority or sovereignty of one city-state over a number of others.” In modern societies, hegemony is something hold by certain group of people and their powerful status lead/abuse/affect the rest of the society. Gramsci (1971) described hegemonic relations in modern society as:
‘spontaneous’ consent given by great masses of the population to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is ‘historically’ caused by the prestige ( and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the word of production.
In accordance with the description, hegemony is something deeply fuse structure of the society.
To begin with examining the hegemony in the components of news –discourse, narrative and image-, the first thing should be considered that news are artefacts and produced by socially constructed human beings. In other words, it is not possible to avoid from social, cultural and political hegemony, when considering the news production. Stuart Alan (2010) takes the concept of hegemony to critically analyze the politics of common sense especially in news discourse. Also, he stated that “Hegemony is to be conceptualized, therefore, as site of ideological struggle over this common sense” (Alan, 2010, p.96). It leads to consider hegemony as something which is frequently produced and reproduced to fit changing dynamic of society. Accordingly, news media becomes crucial to disseminate the hegemony in naturalizing way. Alan (2010) explained the naturalizing way in news as codification discourse “of what should count as the reality of the event.” Hegemonic relations are not disturbing in news discourse unless to interrogate the meaning of words. Alan (2010) stated that everyday language of the public includes powerful definitions, interpretations and inferences. Hall et al. (1978: 62) indicated “Newspapers, ‘take’ the language of the public and, on each occasion, return it to them inflected with dominant and consensual connotations.” This statement, in a way, confirm that the statement of unavoidable effect of society and culture. Not only journalists but also language is affected by hegemony. Moreover, “inflected with dominant and consensual connotation” is interpreted as something which challenging with the truthfulness and objectivity of news. Hegemony, somehow, makes news is biased. Mentioning about bias because of hegemony may be problematic in terms of normative judgements. Each different culture disseminate its own ideas, values and traditions into discourses and this may lead to re-considering definition of the concept of objective.
In the case of news narrative, considering the mythological narrative includes cultural elements. Bird and Dardenne (1997) stated that “news is a particular kind of mythological narrative with its own symbolic codes that are recognized by its audience.” Having mythological narrative automatically get into relation with the hegemony. The reason is culture as common denominator of mythical narrative and discourse. Story of news prevail from representation of reality to myth which is closely interrelated with culture. As Bird and Dardenne (1997) asserted “We know, when we read or hear a news story, that we are in a particular “narrative situation” (Barthes, 1982) that requires a particular kind of stance to be understood.” News discourse and narrative open a way to negotiate what is said whether accept news as it is or negate in terms of hegemonic relations.
To sum up, news is seen as reflections of what happened in around the world. It is mainly about human beings and address to human beings. Considering human being as socially constructed brings crucial points to production of news. The reason is that social aspect come up with certain ideas, values and traditions. As it is known by Gramsci’s definition of hegemony, it is embedded in sociality as well as society. Process of news production is through human being and it is inevitable to isolating oneself from effects of society. It is the reason that hegemonic relations take place in news. It is beyond the reality, it is representation of reality in eyes of society, which is dominated with hegemony. It is obvious also in daily life, people’s preferences of newspaper and TV channels differs in terms of their transmitting news with hegemonic discourse. In short, human being is socially constructed and news is artefact; there is no way to escape from hegemonic relation whether belongs to certain group or ideology.
– Allan, Stuart. “News Culture: Issues in Cultural and Media Studies.”London: Open UP (1999).
– Gürsel, Zeynep D. “US Newsworld: The rule of text and everyday practices of editing the world.”The anthropology of news and journalism (2009): 35-53.
– ‘Myth, chronicle and story: Exploring the narrative qualities of news’, in D. Berkowitz (ed.), Social Meanings of News: A Text Reader, 333-350.
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