Emotionalization in new television formats of science popularization
M. Margarida Bassols, Anna Cros and Anna M. Torrent
The fierce struggle for television audiences is greatest when the content shown is not strictly entertainment, such as, for example, when specialized knowledge is brought to a wide audience. However, the appearance of new television formats has enabled scientific and technical contents to be brought closer to an unprepared and very diverse audience. What resources do these programs use to achieve this? Is emotionalization, which is increasingly dominant in the media, an important strategy in programs that seek to spread scientific knowledge among the general public? Do they use the pluri-locutionary nature of their discourse to promote understanding of the contents and to capture the viewers’ attention? Our research, which forms part of a broader study of new television formats and the communication of knowledge, is the first study on the discourse of the mediatization of knowledge in Spain. The topic is of particular interest because it coincides with the production of innovative television formats that endeavor to capture the interest of sections of the population that usually do not access this type of content. They have an important social function since, as Semir (2011: 19) points out, the knowledge of the world they promote reduces the fear generated in human beings by that which is opaque or unknown, thereby increasing the ability to make decisions and increasing efficiency. Through the linguistic analysis of the statements uttered by the diverse voices of a popular communication program, Quèquicom (Whatwhohow), we will determine which emotions are more present in the program and, therefore, contribute towards its communicative success, and which speakers (presenters, experts or affected individuals) use them more. Determining the resources leading to the success of this program can provide effective tools for other programs with very diverse aims. Studies of this type in Spain have focused on the press but very little on television. This study forms part of a wider research project on new television formats and the communication of knowledge to different audiences and diverse levels of specialization. It has been proven that emotions join together to provide a dramatic progression, based on the tension-relaxation binomial, a progression that holds the audience’s interest, in a similar manner to dramatic fiction programs. Moreover, the emotions can be examined in three ways: they can be referred to as a fact in the reality being narrated, expressed by the speakers or triggered in the audience. Lastly, it was also observed that the emotional charge that justifies the presence of affected individuals or witnesses in the majority of television programs spreads to the voices of the presenters themselves. The transmission of emotions is almost as important as that of knowledge.