Performing the News

I am excited to announce that my first book, tentatively titled Performing the News, is under contract with Rutgers University Press. This book draws primarily on in-depth interviews with current and former journalists who perform for audiences on television, radio, and podcasts. I also spoke with those who advise on or direct such performances, including producers, editors, station managers/directors, industry analysts, voice and delivery coaches, media trainers, image consultants, talent agents, and professors.

Here’s a short synoposis of the book’s focus and central argument:

In Performing the News, I explore how journalists who perform for audiences learn about expectations for self-presentation and manage their public image. I examine how demands for appealing news performers can legitimize discrimination on the basis of key markers of identity: appearance, voice, and delivery. I trace how forms of news presentation on television and radio, and more recently in podcasts, have become institutionalized (adopted as professional practice within newsrooms) and are being challenged by journalists. This book contributes to the conversation about diversity and inclusivity in journalism. It also intersects with ongoing debates around journalistic authority and neutrality. Specifically, I explore how journalists’ self-presentation affects their perceived authoritativeness and how they are rewarded for following conventions often described as “neutral.” I argue that performance neutrality is a myth that serves to maintain the status quo.