This paper examines the transformation of news as a cultural commodity and a social process by the expansion in the range, volume, and circulation speed of media production. It introduces the concept of vortextuality and illustrates the vortextual effect with reference to the coverage of the verdict announcement in the trial of Michael Jackson. The nature of “news” has been transformed by new media technology, the erosion of the division between public and private, and the growth of a celebrity culture. during the last two decades the volume of information in circulation, and the speed of circulation and feedback of information have increased dramatically. These tendencies have given rise to an effect I term vortextuality, whereby major news stories have the power to dominate the news media to such an extent that all attention appears, temporarily, to be directed towards them. Editorials, cartoons, columns, features, phone-ins are all focused on the same issue. As with vortex-based natural phenomena, however, the vortextuality effect is unpredictable and short-lived. This paper illustrates some of the processes of vortextuality at work in the media coverage around the world of the announcement of the verdict in the Michael Jackson trial.
News, Celebrity, and Vortextuality: A Study of the Media Coverage of the Michael Jackson Verdict
PROFESSOR GARRY WHANNEL IS HEAD OF CIMARC, THE CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ANALYSIS, RESEARCH AND CONSULTANCY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BEDFORDSHIRE, UK. HIS PUBLISHED WORK INCLUDES CULTURE, POLITICS AND SPORT (ROUTLEDGE, 2008), MEDIA SPORT STARS, MASCULINITIES AND MORALITIES (ROUTLEDGE, 2002), FIELDS IN VISION (ROUTLEDGE, 1992), AND BLOWING THE WHISTLE (1983). HE WAS A CO-AUTHOR OF UNDERSTANDIN SPORT (ROUTLEDGE, 1999) AND A CO-EDITOR OF UNDERSTANDING TELEVISION (ROUTLEDGE, 1990). HIS CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS INCLUDE CELEBRITY CULTURE AND THE VORTEXTUALITY PROCESS, JOURNALISM, POLITICS AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES, THE GROWTH OF COMMERCIAL SPONSORSHIP, AND THE ROOTS OF POLITICAL HUMOR