Proper distance from ourselves: the potential for estrangement in the mediapolis.
International Journal of Cultural Studies, 14
This article discusses how, and with what consequences, the news in today’s increasingly global and porous environment tells us about ourselves, showing us images that are often uncomfortable, strange and disturbing. In particular, it examines how, in times of conflict, in narrating and imaging ‘us’ as a nation, the news media can contribute to an ethical project of estrangement — achieving distance from ourselves, seeing ourselves as others, as a way to address injustice and enhance democratic public spheres. The analysis is based on a comparison of coverage of the 2005 riots in France and the reporting of the 2008/9 Gaza war in Israel. The discussion explores ways in which the aesthetics of news can be mobilized for estrangement, what incentives journalism might have for promoting an ethics of estrangement, and the opportunities and dangers this project entails. This exploration shows how Silverstone’s concept of proper distance may play out in different situations of news coverage of conflict, especially when there is a tension between national and international reporting.
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