Interstellar Network News

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Interstellar Network News (ISN) is a fictional TV news network in the Babylon 5 universe. ISN was modelled on real-world news outlets, such as CNN. In the Babylon 5 fictional universe, ISN is the sole Earth broadcaster, based in Geneva,[1]:106 and is featured in many episodes such that the changes in tone are readily discerned as the show progresses.

As the series unfolds, ISN evolves from a free press to a blatant propaganda organ. In the final episode of Season 2, ISN broadcasts, unedited, Lt. Keffer's footage of a Shadow vessel attacking him in hyperspace,[2]:250-251 which only later is investigated by Earthforce.[2]:257-258 During the Earth Alliance Civil War, the ISN studios were forcibly seized during a live broadcast in the Season 3 episode, Severed Dreams,[2]:295 after which the network was absent from the show until Ship of Tears, four episodes later,[2]:312 but the public reaction to ISN after it returns is more skeptical.[3]:200

The season 4 episode, The Illusion of Truth is a frank study in propaganda.[4] Rather than a traditional episode format, the Babylon 5 command staff grant interviews to an ISN news team.[5]:138 The final segment of the episode is the resultant piece of propaganda, carefully edited to portray Captain Sheridan, Delenn, and others in as bad a light as possible.[6]:75-78

Following the Earth Alliance Civil War, the ISN anchors removed in Severed Dreams are returned to the air in Endgame.[6]:107

ISN also broadcasts news magazine-style shows, including "36 hours" featured in the episodes And Now For a Word[3]:128-132 and The Deconstruction of Falling Stars.[6]:114 During the former, short pro-Psi Corps messages are seen, representing subliminal propaganda,[5]:82` but actually being shown twice as long as a 'real' subliminal ad, in part to avoid running afoul of the actual laws regarding subliminal broadcasts.[2]:226

Series creator J. Michael Straczynski noted that ISN broadcasts were designed to "reveal more about what was happening on Earth than what was going on aboard Babylon 5"[3]:129 Henry Jenkins notes that "The series' characters inhabit a world profoundly shaped by the flow of news and information across various channels of communication [...] They give interviews to reporters, and we watch as what they say is distorted to serve various agendas."[7]:vx-xvi


  1. ^ Bassam, David (1997). The A-Z Guide to Babylon 5. Dell Publishing. ISBN 0440223857.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lane, Andy (1997). The Babylon File. Virgin Books. ISBN 0753500493.
  3. ^ a b c Guffey, Ensley K; K. Dale Koontz (2017). A Dream Given Form: The Unofficial Guide to the Universe of Babylon 5. ECW Press. ISBN 9781770412651.
  4. ^ J.P. Telotte (2008). The Essential Science Fiction Television Reader. University Press of Kentucky. p. 260. ISBN 9780813172965. "But once we have watched The Illusion of Truth--an episode in which we first see the cast go about their business while being recorded by a news crew and then watch the distorted broadcast of those events--how can we believe in news objectivity?"
  5. ^ a b Bassom, David (1997). Creating Babylon 5. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345414527.
  6. ^ a b c Lane, Andy (1999). The Babylon File, Volume 2. Virgin Books. ISBN 075350233X.
  7. ^ Lancaster, Kurt (2001). Interacting with Babylon 5: Fan Performances in a Media Universe. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292747225.