The “image bite,” political language, and the public/private divide
NBC News coverage of Hillary Clinton from scorned wife to Senate candidate
Voice-overs with muted images, often known as the “image bite,” have become an increasingly used but understudied format of political language by the television news media. Because the media can use images to fit many contexts and purposes of commentary, the media images are susceptible to continuous de-contextualization and re-contextualization. Drawing from theories of feminist critical discourse analysis and gender performance as well as scholarship on the public/private divide, we examine the commentary of one U.S. television news organization’s (NBC) re-contextualization of the same stock footage of Hillary Clinton over 10 newscasts spanning 20 months from August 1998 to June of 2000. NBC re-enforces the public/private binary in conventional masculine terms. Yet it also worked, at times, to unify the binary when covering Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign; on those occasions at least, NBC revealed the potential erosion of gender stereotypes and a small but still significant role for human agency in the study of gender ideology.
Keywords: Image bites, image re-contextualization, image de-contextualization, feminist critical discourse analysis, diachronic discourse analysis, public and private spheres, women in media, Hillary Clinton
Published online: 26 November 2012
Beigman Klebanov, Beata, Daniel Diermeier, and Eyal Beigman
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