A new study “The Attention Apparatus: Conditions and Affordances of News Reporting in Hybrid Media Events of Terrorist Violence” by Niina Uusitalo and Katja Valaskivi from University of Tampere conceptualizes news organization as a an attention apparatus through looking at news production in terrorist acts.
The empirical part of the study consisted of 33 thematic interviews, found via a snowball method, of journalists from the state-owned Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and newsroom observation for 14 days.
The article also makes use of Foucault’s concept of apparatus. It is a heterogenous network consisting of virtually anything that has a strategic function and appears in the intersection of power relations and relations of knowledge. As the authors remind us, Yves Citton has brought together attention and apparatus in context of media, seeing media apparatuses as vehicles of understanding and regimes of attention.
Condititions, affordances and the attention apparatus
The conditions and affordances of the attention apparatus consist of three each. The three conditions are perceived audience expectations, professional conditions of journalism and societal responsibilities, and the affordances are immediacy, liveness, and interruption.
The activation of a news organization as an attention apparatus has societal consequences. Terrorist acts only become hybrid media events through the apparatus. Despite the growth of social media and alternative media platforms, there is a certain concentration of symbolic resources in principal mass media.
The authors conclude that the conceptualization of the attention apparatus brings forth new questions regarding the identification, definition, and framing of certain situations as crises of global significance demanding action.
The article “The Attention Apparatus: Conditions and Affordances of News Reporting in Hybrid Media Events of Terrorist Violence” by Niina Uusitalo and Katja Valaskivi is in Journalism Practice. (Free access).
Picture: Untitled by Fabien Maurin License Unsplash.