This book is about the question of existence, the meaning of life . It is an enquiry into the contemporary human situation as disclosed by television. The elementary components of any real-world situation are place, people and time. These are first examined as basic existential phenomena drawing on Heidegger s fundamental enquiry into the human situation in Being and Time. They are then explored through the technological and production care-structures of broadcast television which, routinely and exceptionally, display the situated experience of being alive and living in the world today. It shows routinely in the live self-enactments of persons being themselves and the liveness of their ordinary talk on television. It shows exceptionally in television coverage of great occasions and catastrophes as they unfold live and in real time. Case studies reveal the existential role of television in salvaging the possibility of genuine experience, and in revealing the world-historical character of life today. To explore these questions, the agenda of sociology - its concern with economic, political and cultural life - is set aside.
Being in the world is not, in the first (or last) instance, a social but an existential question, as an existential enquiry into television today discovers. Passionate and sweeping in scale, this new book from a leading media scholar is a major contribution to our understanding of the media today.
Paddy Scannell is professor in the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan. He was one of the early pioneers of media studies, and a founding editor of the journal Media, Culture and Society.
Acknowledgements vi Preface viii Part one: An introduction to the phenomenology of television Prologue: Heidegger's teacup 3 1. What is phenomenology? 5 2. Available world 14 3. Available self 27 4. Available time 39 5. Turning on the TV set 60 6. Television and technology 78 Part two: Television and the meaning of live 7. The meaning of live 93 8. How to talk on radio 107 9. How to talk on television 128 10. The moment of the goal on television 153 11. Being in the moment: the meaning of media events 177 12. Catastrophe on television 191 13. Television and history 209 Notes 225 References 245 Index 253