Vortextuality

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Vortextuality is a concept developed in the work of Garry Whannel, a leading academic thinker working in the area of the cultural analysis of media sport. Whannel uses this concept in his work to analyse and account for the ways in which some news stories acquire a rapid momentum, briefly dominating the mediascape and the blogosphere.

In his book, Media Sport Stars, Masculinities and Moralities,[1] he explained this term, noting:"The growth in the range of media outlets, and the vastly increased speed of circulation of information have combined to create the phenomenon of a "vortex" effect".

The vortextual effect produces a compression of the media agenda, in which other news items disappear from the agenda or have to be connected in some way to the dominant event. Developing this idea, Whannel observed that:

"Various media constantly feed off each other and, in an era of electronic and digital information exchange, the speed at which this happens has become very rapid. Certain super-major events come to dominate the headlines to such an extent that it becomes temporarily difficult for columnists and commentators to discuss anything else. They are drawn in, as if by a vortex."

Whannel gives the example of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales as an example of Vortextuality as this story dominated the media for days, to the extent that it removed most other items from the news agenda. Likewise, during global sporting events, such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games, journalists and columnists with no expertise or pre-existing interest in sport comment on the event as Marshal et al. (2010) point out. Recent examples, of media vortextuality include the election of Barack Obama and the death of Michael Jackson.

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