Contrasting Implied Audiences: Seriocomedy and Newspaper Reportage on Poverty in Montreal

NIELSEN, GREG: art2] (2007) «~Contrasting Implied Audiences: Seriocomedy and Newspaper Reportage on Poverty in Montreal~», Canadian Journal of Communications.How mass media and their implied audiences imagine poverty and homelessness in the city is an obvious but also complex subject of research for broadcasting studies in the emerging environment. It is obvious because media are major urban institutions that reproduce values of citizenship and help reinforce the symbolic lines of social division in the city. It is a complex subject because media regularly address audiences in the name of those who do not speak for themselves or in the name of those who claim to speak for them. This paper compares two case studies of the way poverty is imagined in Montreal through Public Broadcasting Television seriocomedy and the mainstream press in order to demonstrate how media already overlap and provide some of the city’s many ways of imagining this subject. My broader, and as yet unanswered research question, asks if it is true that journalists and public broadcasters increasingly speak of the excluded in the city in the third person, and already only rarely address the excluded that they write or film about directly – will journalism and public broadcasting still claim to fulfill their democratic responsibilities to inform and contribute to the enrichment of a diversity of cultural expression in the future? The recent popular French Québécois language seriocomedy Les Bougons is used as an example and compared to emotionally charged political disputes in Montreal newspapers on the theme of poverty. The difficulty of comparison is amplified by the construction from such different media, and so before explaining the analysis, I offer some preliminary explanation of the historical context for Public Broadcasting and the production of seriocomedy in Canada as well as an explanation for the selection of examples from newspapers before I proceed.

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