Manipulating and Deceiving Viewers with Sound Bites and Images
In Duguid and Brown’s article ‘The Social Life of Documents’, the authors make mention of how documents usually tend to raise more debate than suppress it. This is true, as there can be an innumerable amount of possible interpretations for one document alone. However, while there is no ‘right’ interpretation of a document, there has to be a set of standards to abide by to judge all of these competing ideologies. This is where the use of sound bites and images used in news media tend to be a source of debate. First of all, sound bites are defined as ‘film segments within a news story that show someone speak without interruption’, while image bites are defined as ‘film segments within a news story in which someone is shown but not heard’ (Esser, 3). Sound bites and images are being re-contextualised and used as tools to manipulate viewers into supporting the viewpoints of the news program. Not only that, but sound and image bites are being utilized to sensationalize stories in order to draw in a bigger audience for the news program. People look to the news to deliver the accurate portrayal of events, but with the increasing manipulation of sound and image bites, the ‘truth’ is being influenced by the views of the newscasters. Journalistic integrity is being undermined as journalists are taking it upon themselves to shape stories with their own narratives and points of view. The problem with this is that people no longer have access to unmediated information from which they can draw their own conclusions from. By analyzing how sound bites and
images are used by programs, and by exploring their use in particular cases (9/11, Hurricane Katrina), it will be clear to see that they are used with the intention to manipulate viewers.
The average American sound bite (a segment of uninterrupted speech by a candidate broadcast on television news), has shrunk from forty-two seconds in 1968 to eight seconds in 2004 (Esser, 2). As the length of the sound bite decreases, it allows for more opportunities for the speech to be taken out of context. Portions of the speech can be clipped or completely re-contextualized so they appear to be saying something completely different from the original. The politicians are given fewer and fewer opportunities to speak for themselves, while the journalist takes on the role of summarizing, contextualizing, and evaluating the politicians’ messages. The journalist basically does the speaking for the candidates (Esser, 4). The politician has become voiceless. They have lost the ability to control how they are framed in the media. Much of what is heard about the politician in the media rarely comes from the figure themselves.
Image bites can be just as powerful and manipulative as sound bites. Bucy and Grabe have pointed out that the brain prefers processing visual information over verbal information (2007). For example, those who watch TV can recall...