Concision (media studies)
|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (September 2013)|
In the context of media criticism, the word concision is also used to describe the practice of limiting debate and discussion of important topics on broadcast news on the basis of broadcast time allotment.
Media critics such as Noam Chomsky contend that this practice, especially on commercial broadcasts with advertising, encourages broadcasters to exclude people and ideas that they judge cannot conform to the time limits of a particular program. This leads to a limited number of "the usual suspects" who will say expected ideas that will not require extensive explanation such as mainstream political ones.
In fact, the structure of the news production system is, you can't produce evidence. There's even a name for it -- I learned it from the producer of Nightline, Jeff Greenfield. It's called "concision." He was asked in an interview somewhere why they didn't have me on Nightline, and his answer was -- two answers. First of all, he says, "Well, he talks Turkish, and nobody understands it." But the other answer was, "He lacks concision." Which is correct, I agree with him. The kinds of things that I would say on Nightline, you can't say in one sentence because they depart from standard religion. If you want to repeat the religion, you can get away with it between two commercials. If you want to say something that questions the religion, you're expected to give evidence, and that you can't do between two commercials. So therefore you lack concision, so therefore you can't talk.
Furthermore, introducing controversial or unexpected statements that do not conform to those conventional ideas are discouraged as time inefficient because the person will be required to explain and support them in detail. Since this can often take considerable time in itself and digress from the primary discussion topic of the broadcast, this is discouraged. Alternatively, the explanation could be subject to extensive editing for time which could lead to an inadequate presentation of the subject's thoughts.
This media control idea is illustrated in the film documentary, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, where journalist Jeff Greenfield explains why a person like Chomsky may be excluded from being interviewed on air because he takes too long to warm up. The film then follows up with Chomsky himself explaining the concept while the film gives examples of controversial statements he has made in the past that would require extensive explanation in an interview.
The 1999 feature film The Insider has a dramatization of the media concept where journalist Mike Wallace goes public on a news show about the censoring of a controversial story on 60 Minutes. When Wallace sees his interview broadcast, he is furious that his testimony is limited to a cut part statement that does not adequately explain his position and the only excuse from the producers he receives is that it had to be cut for time.
- Finnish Views of CNN, Chapter 8: The Structural Constraint of "Concision" as it is Used in the Discourse Style of American Commercial Broadcasting
- Chomsky, Noam. "Noam Chomsky Interview". Conversations with History. Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, June, 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2012.