Research on Newsreels as a Journalistic Technology

This essay, coauthored with Steve McCreery at Appalachian State and out now in Journalism History, takes a historical look at the development of journalistic technology. The newsreel is a fascinating moment in the development visual news storytelling and this piece looks at how journalistic discourses created the terms by which this technology could be understood as a broader aspect of professional journalism. Steve really kicked this research off with some real passion and insight, and I happy to have been a part of it.

The journal can be a little difficult to track down without EBSCO Access, so be in touch if you’d like a copy.

Steve McCreery and Brian Creech, “The Journalistic Value of Emerging Technologies: American PRess Reaction to WWII Newsreels,” Journalism History (40)3, 2014, pp. 177-186.

Here’s the abstract: This essay investigates World War II-era newsreels in order to understand how journalistic discourses create the means for understanding emerging technologies within the practice of journalism. The essay lays out a theoretical rationale influenced by Bruno Latour and Walter Benjamin for looking at how emerging technologies are understood through public discourse. The analysis looks at newsreels as a form of visual storytelling that presaged television news, and we argue that the wartime press provided a milieu for understanding how newsreels, as a journalistic medium, could be critiqued and understood as a storytelling form and how this form of critique played an important part in characterizing their content as journalistically valid. By focusing on issues of production and censorship alongside the aesthetic and technical aspects of the newsreels, the press created the terms by which newsreels could be judged, evaluated, and eventually integrated into the broader production of journalism. Our analysis shows that, while issues of production were important, newsreels gained their greatest legitimacy through the celebration and lionizing of the cameramen as courageous news-gatherers, equal in stature to the soldiers they filmed. 


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