The quest for truth

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  • Publié le : 17 août 2010
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The quest for truth pervades every aspect of our lives as we search for greater meaning and understanding. The Media is a clear example of the construction and propagation of ‘truth’ for public consumption. Through the full panoply of television features Frontline subverts the very features that make television such a powerful medium of communication and unveils the economic imperatives behindthe construction and sensationalism of truth. The transcript of Mr Jon Faine’s speech In Defence of Talkback to Melbourne University, demonstrates the power of the rhetoric to embellish the truth in order to attract and position the audience, manipulating their emotional response.
Supply and demand is the economic imperative that drives an industry where the truth is a commodity constructed forpublic appeal. We Aint Got Dames is a Frontline Episode that explores this concept of media/audience responsibility. The Frontline team’s response to their declining numbers of female viewers is testament to their willingness to corrupt, distort and select ‘truth’. Rather than exiting the studio (the confines of which are symbolic of the artificiality of the news, and metaphoric for the creation oftruth) they discuss the need to better package their content to win the ratings war. Similarly, Add Sex and Stir depicts the manipulation of truth to increase ratings. Irony is employed through the juxtapositioning of Brian’s initial rejection of Brooke’s story (on the premise that women’s sports stories are unpopular) and his revelation that “this is a leso story” and sex sells. Brian isemblematic for the ultimate decisive factor in the construction of truth - audience demand.
The manipulation of truth in the media is not limited to this media/audience dichotomy however, often third parties become implicated in the process to further their own interests. In We Aint’ Got Dames, Mike’s interview with politician Cheryl Kernot demonstrates the power struggle that ensues between thedifferent factions competing to communicate their respective truths. Mike opens with “well they say it’s a man’s world” employing cliché to cater for his female audience. The tense dialogue that ensues when the senator wants to exploit the medium exploiting her is reinforced by the rapid camera cuts between them, which humorously depicts the very real struggle in the media for voice, and the conflictover power as stakeholders try to pursue their own ambitions. Similarly, Faine anecdotally describes a scenario of politicians offering to appear on his talkback show. Employing direct dialogue to give the illusion of accuracy and authenticity, he describes the demand for an exclusive appearance on the ABC for political promotion reinforcing the idea suggested in Frontline of stakeholders influenceover truth.
Faine’s speech touches on this theme of media manipulation for covert purposes when he barely conceals his real purpose to endorse the ABC. First establishing a sense of exclusivity with the audience by ironically saying I hope I am not giving away too many trade secrets when I tell you that there is intense rivalry at the ABC.. He subsequently unabashedly launches into his promotionof the ABC by contrasting the mind numbing crap presented by the barons of commercial networks, with the ABC’s superiority. The rhetorical questions (Does it matter?... Or do they?) establishes suspense and drama as he presents the ABC as the only alternative to the deliberately manipulative and profit driven commercial networks. In this way, Faine reveals a motivation similar to Brian’s on theFrontline team where the truth is an expendable product whose value lies in its popular reception.

The media fabricates and constructs identities to become emblematic for truth and reliability, and uses these figures to propagate a distorted reality. This idea is communicated through We Ain’t Got Dames and Faine’s speech. As the mouthpiece of Frontline Mike is looked to for veracity, thus the...
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