The pseudo-events paradox: How pseudo-events flood the Philippine press and why journalists don't recognize it

Edson C. Tandoc, Marko M. Skoric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 1961, Daniel Boorstin introduced the concept of 'pseudo-events', or false realities, which he said had been flooding the American press. Four decades later, testing his concept on the Philippine press, this study finds that his observation still holds true. This exploratory study, using content analysis of 2330 news articles and a survey of 100 journalists, also suggests the existence of the 'pseudo- events paradox'. The study finds that while journalists perceive that there are more spontaneous events in their work, and that these have better chances of being published, published news articles about pseudo-events actually outnumber those based on spontaneous events. It is argued that the news sources have taken advantage of the institutional constraints in news gathering, creating pseudo- realities that journalists, trapped by their own routines, value judgments, and hunger for stories, find difficult to resist. This leads journalists to accommodate pseudo-events, staged by the most accessible sources, like politicians, and gathered by the easiest data gathering methods, like the press conference, the press release, and the interview. These findings point to the disintegration of what Habermas had ideally termed as the 'public sphere' into a 'pseudo-public sphere', where the staged realities of private, powerful individuals able to manipulate the press clutter public consciousness. This gives the public the illusion that democracy is at work when it is crumbling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-50
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Journal of Communication
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Keywords

  • Newspapers
  • Philippines
  • Pseudo-events
  • Public sphere
  • Staged news

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