Focus on the network evening news. This is where the staging is done well.
First, we have the image itself, the colors in foreground and background, the blend of restful and charged hues. The anchor and his/her smooth style.
Then we have the shifting of venue from the studio to reporters in the field, demonstrating the reach of coverage: the planet. As if this equals authenticity.
The managing editor, usually the elite anchor, chooses the stories to cover and their sequence.
The viewer fills in the context for the story: “Oh yes, the government. We want the government to get something done, but they’re not. We want to government to avoid a shutdown. These people are always arguing with each other. They don’t agree. They’re in conflict. Yes, conflict, just like on the cop shows.”
The anchor: “The Chinese government reports the new flu epidemic has spread to three provinces. Forty-two people have already died, and nearly a thousand are hospitalized…”
The viewer again supplies context, such as it is: “Flu. Dangerous. Epidemic. Could it arrive here? Get my flu shot. Do the Chinese doctors know what they’re doing? Crowded cities. Maybe more cases all of a sudden. Ten thousand, a hundred thousand.”
The anchor: “A new university study states that gun owners often stock up on weapons and ammunition, and this trend has jumped quickly since the Newtown, Connecticut, school-shooting tragedy…”
The anchor: “Doctors at Yale University have made a discovery that could lead to new treatments in the battle against Autism…”
Viewer: “That would be good. More research. Laboratory. Germs. The brain.”
If, at the end of the newscast, the viewer bothered to review the stories and his own reactions to them, he would realize he’d learned almost nothing. But reflection is not the game.
In fact, the flow of the news stories has washed over him and created very little except a sense of continuity…