“We should not think of the news as a genre of information but also as a genre of imagination” (Chouliaraki 333).
I keep wavering on my stance regarding this passage. Though I appreciate that Chouliaraki believes that we are not autopilot consumers, and that we have the ability to choose our own reactions to the media, I think he is taking it a bit far. I think this is perhaps because the word imagination connotes—at least to me—that one has to stretch boundaries and is left to creative devices. Generally a positive thing. However, if we have to morph the news, I am a bit worried about how different individuals will interpret the message the media feeds us.
For example, just this morning on my way to work I was approached by a seemingly homeless man—or at least a well-motivated collectionist as this was before 7:00am. As many commuters use IPods, or some other listening device, on their way to work his message had to be loud and succinct: “Obama is a traitor! Terrorist! Lived overseas and plays in sandboxes. Big man child”. I understand that not everyone voted for Obama—the polls reflected that—but this man used his imagination well (and even some fun literary tools too). My point is not that I am an avid Obama supporter, but the fact that this man is not. He had consumed the news and interpreted it in his own manner. I know that there are far better examples to use to voice my skepticism on having consumers interpret the news, but this one was fresh in my mind (and stains fresh on my jackets from his coffee spray).
Do you see why I am torn? The teacher side of me encourages and endorses imagination, but the observing humanity side of me remains a bit skeptical. Essentially, and I think that this is also Chouliaraki’s point; I think that the news should not necessitate imagination, but leave room for it. So those that want to make connections, please do. But for those who want to simply be receivers, allow them that passive right.