In her book, Becoming the News: How Ordinary People Respond to the Media Spotlight
(Columbia University Press, 2017), Ruth Palmer
argues that understanding the motivations and experiences of those who have been featured in news stories – voluntarily or not – sheds new light on the practice of journalism and the importance many continue to place on the role of the mainstream media.
Palmer charts the arc of the experience of “making” the news, from the events that brought an ordinary person to journalists’ attention through the decision to cooperate with reporters, interactions with journalists, and reactions to the news coverage and its aftermath. She explores what motivates someone to talk to the press; whether they consider the potential risks; the power dynamics between a journalist and their subject; their expectations about the motivations of journalists; and the influence of social media on their decisions and reception.
Pointing to the ways traditional news organizations both continue to hold on to and are losing their authority, Becoming the News
has important implications for how we think about the production and consumption of news at a time when Americans distrust the news media more than ever.
Marci Mazzarotto is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Her research interests center on the interdisciplinary intersection of academic theory and artistic practice with a focus on film and television studies.