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Television news, narrative conventions and national imagination

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journal contribution
posted on 2009-07-27, 14:01 authored by Sabina MiheljSabina Mihelj, Veronika Bajt, Milos Pankov
By and large, contemporary news stories are stories about a particular nation, told to an audience that is seen and addressed in national terms. However, the understanding of the exact ways in which national imagination becomes engrained in the narrative conventions of news reporting is still rather limited, in particular when it comes to audiovisual genres. This article aims to fill a part of this blank by examining the links between national imagination and the narrative conventions of television news. Building on existing debates about different modes of news reporting, the article distinguishes two distinct sets of narrative conventions at work in television news: one typically found in routine reporting, the other characteristic of crisis and celebratory reporting. It is argued that each of these two sets of conventions is tied to a different form of nationalism, and normally arises in a different political climate. Links between national imagination and narrative conventions vary accordingly. To demonstrate this, the article provides a comparative analysis of narrative structures in selected samples of television news bulletins broadcast in the early 1990s in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The concluding section reflects on the external validity of the chosen case study and surveys supportive evidence from four other relevant cases, drawn from the UK and Israel.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


MIHELJ, S., BAJT, V. and PANKOV, M., 2009. Television news, narrative conventions and national imagination. Discourse and Communication, 3 (1), pp. 57-78.


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  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This article was published in Discourse and Communication and the definitive version is available at http://dcm.sagepub.com/.


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