Printer Friendly

National temporality and journalistic practice: temporalising anniversary events in Estonian television news.

1. Introduction

Time is one of the most central organizing concepts of news production (Schlesinger 1978/1999), news genre (Bell 1991, 1995, 1998) and news discourse. Although immediacy is the central concept of broadcasting, news production and the occupational ideology of news journalism (Schlesinger: 124, 125), news discourse represents more distant (larger than the immediate present) time frames by creating bridges between the present, the past and the future (Jaworski et al. 2003).

The growing body of scholarship about the role of journalism in the construction and articulation of collective memory reflects that the function of journalism as a 'social time machine' becomes more apparent (e.g. Kitch 2003a, 2003b, 2007, Edy and Daradanova 2006, Le 2006, Carlson 2007, Ebbrecht 2007, Winfield et al. 2002, Winfield and Hume 2007, West 2008). Less attention has been paid to the various strategies, which news journalism employs in constructing cultural time as one component of collective memory. One set of devices is linked to the intertextual nature of news genre: a news story relates the reported event or topic to other events diachronically--referring to the events which precede and follow it. The duration of the time covering these historic or future events could be highly variable: a news story could possibly refer to events that happened hundreds of years ago, few hours ago or will happen tomorrow. Another set of devices are linked to the way the news value overturns temporal sequences of linear narrative; moves backwards and forwards in time by picking out and bringing together different actions and agents according to socially relevant concepts of temporality. The third set of devices comes from the newsworthiness of certain pre-scheduled events, such as anniversaries. Anniversaries could be single events or calendar-based annual celebrations. The latter type of anniversary journalism plays an important role in mnemonic synchronization of particular communities. On the same day an entire mnemonic community manages to focus their attention on the same moment in history (Zerubavel 2003:4) and the daily news frames the manner of commemoration.

By bringing together the theoretical approach of cultural memory studies and analysis of news discourse, this study focuses on how commemorative news processes temporality, specifically in analysing the modes and strategies news text employs in the cultural construction of time within the framework of national temporality. The analysis will demonstrate how the afore-mentioned devices function in a single news story and the manner in which national temporality is narratively provided with causality and coherence. The study of media constructions of temporality provides important insights on how temporally situated and memory saturated national identity is re-created on day-to-day basis through regular news flow.

Traditionally a collectively used medium, television journalism with its periodicity plays a major role in the construction of social time structures. In addition, television's agenda-setting function for the community grants it a pivotal role in nation building and 'inhabitalisation' of the national memory (cf. Edensor 2006:535). As a form of 'global memory bank', the electronic archives of television hold apparently more complete and verifiable histories of the emerging new century, not to mention the previous one, than the traditional resources of historians: physical archives, personal testimony and official records (Hoskins 2001a:214). On the one hand, the complexity of television news temporality comes from the synthesis of visual and verbal text in parallel with the synthesis of past and present: e.g. old photographs or documentaries (extracts) illustrate the comments on current affairs and vice versa. On the other hand, as well as being place-less, television is in effect timeless, operating in a perpetual present: television news is always broadcast 'live', which creates the presentness effect of the news (Moores 1995, Hoskins 2001b:341, 342).

In the context of the current study, using television news stories for empirical analysis enables us to make visible complex temporal constructions by demonstrating how different cultural time-types are being constructed and strategically linked to convey a story of nationalism and thereby symbolically inhabit the public time space. To this end a tripartite methodology is proposed that takes into account a variety of news temporisation modes from the basic news time structure to the more complex implementation of chronotypes and mnemonic templates.

2. Anniversary journalism and national temporality

Anniversaries are important building blocks of national identity:

The anniversary--of a person, institution or event--is regularly 'news' in the media. Beginnings (debuts, openings) and closings (death of people or institutions) provide an opportunity to exercise some kind of self-conscious sense of history (Schudson 1986:102).

Anniversary journalism can be considered "as a temporal sphere in which national identity is continually reproduced, sedimented and challenged" (Edensor: 526). In this sense anniversary journalism brings the community together and provides national and cultural consistency by 'bridging' historical gaps (Zerubavel: 52) and habitualising values and norms of behaviour by repetition (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983:2). Hence anniversary journalism serves as a framework within which social groups can construct their own sense of public time, that dimension of collective life through which human communities come to have what is assumed to be a patterned and perceptually shared past, present and future (Kitch 2003a:48, partly referring to Molotch and Lester 1974).

This is what makes anniversary journalism one of the main agents in identity buiding and mediation of memory.

Anniversary journalism, as a form of ritual communication (Carey 1989, cited in Kitch 2003a) functions both in linear and cyclical time and in doing so intersects the 'formal nationalism' of the modern nation-state with the 'informal nationalism' taking place in civil society and everyday routines (Eriksen 1993, cited in Edensor: 528). Anniversary journalism is partly subordinated to the state management of national temporalities such as governing the organization of weekly, calendrical and ceremonial time (Edensor:531). Among the news samples used in this article, this is the case with the anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty, which is a law-regulated state anniversary in the Republic of Estonia. National holiday news draws on values like continuity and predictability rather than traditional news values and the central event, in news stories like these, is the reproduction of the social order (ben-Aaron 2005:693).

Anniversary journalism from another aspect reflects events at the level of the civil society or smaller groups that perhaps have no direct outlet in the official calendar of events but that have for some other reasons an extensive basis in society. Among our examples is an announcement about erecting a monument to the 'father' of Estonian journalism Johann Voldemar Jannsen. In the example of those aforementioned events, the function of an anniversary news manifests as a double synchronization (Zerubavel). This means reproducing from one side the national ambition to make the national identity habitual, communicable and governing, and from the other side, it has a more informal communal participation aspect through reflection at which a certain national synchronization is aimed.

With close connections with the calendar year and other social and cultural practices, national anniversary journalism adopts the main national narratives, around which the national menmonic community is formed, where the news organizations, journalists, journalistic critics and naturally the public are all participants. This, however, does not mean that differences disappear--an individual can really participate simultaneously in several mnemonic communities, the relationship of which towards the image of the past (or its function in the concrete news) (re)produced by journalism may be affirmative, critical or contesting (Koresaar 2008). It is essential that the concerned journalists turn to the public as a group with whom they share common values and vision of the past and use different (available) textual means to express those values and viewpoints. As Fiske and Hartley (1978:85) have argued, the 'map' of meaning produced by a news producer or a journalist, either deliberately or routinely, always exceeds individual intent and contain 'myths and mythologies' that are actual in a cultural setting. In this aspect anniversary journalism may be understood as a mediator and a product of cultural memory (cf. Kitch 2008:312).

The empirical analysis is carried out on the qualitative text analysis of three television anniversary news stories broadcasted in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The sample represents the single anniversary news story and calendar-based anniversary news coverage (cyclic anniversary news) in ordinary years and a jubilee (major anniversary) year. The samples are selected on the basis of a survey concerning the construction of the past in newspaper news during selected months in 2009, 2010 (Rebane 2009).

The first news story selected for this analysis covers the commemoration of an event the meaning of which is established by its entry in the official national calendar--the anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty. The Tartu Peace Treaty was a bilateral treaty between Estonia and Russia which ended the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920), established the border between Estonia and Russia and provided the newly founded Republic of Estonia with international recognition. The treaty was signed by Jaan Poska on the Estonian side and Adolf Joffe for Soviet Russia. In the national liberation movement at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, the Tartu Peace Treaty was re-topicalised to stress the juridical continuity of the Estonian independent statehood. The Treaty is regarded as the birth certificate of the Republic of Estonia because it was the very first de jure recognition of the state. In the official rhetoric of the day, the Tartu Peace Treaty is celebrated as "the grand achievement of Estonian diplomacy and one of the most important stones in the groundwork of Estonian statehood" (Arjakas 2008).

The second news story is about the opening of the monument of Johann Voldemar Jannsen (1819-1890)--the man who in summer 1857 launched the Estonian-language weekly Perno Postimees (Postman of Perno) that marked the birth of regular Estonian-language periodicals. In Perno Postimees Jannsen conveyed his ideas to his mostly peasant readership, he presented programmes with stress on cultural and national development of the country. Hence Jannsen and his paper played an outstanding role in arousing Estonian national self-consciousness (Lauk et al. 1993:72, 74).

3. Time construction in a single news story: a tripartite viewpoint In this study the time dimensions of news discourse are analysed from a tripartite viewpoint by probematising a) the genre-specific time structure of news which enables us to understand how current newsworthy events or issues actualise different time horizons of the past, present and future; b) the sense given to the relevant time horizons through their social categorization, and c) the narrative identity of the community expressed in the (national) temporization of an anniversary event. The relationship between these levels of analysis reveal a broader sense of (national) temporality, which organises individual temporal units presented in the news.

In order to deconstruct time structures, it is important to focus on genre categories. The chronological order of a narrative in hard news format is disrupted, as the most important information is placed at the beginning as the news must have clear implication to current topical reality. (1) This disrupted news structure has been labelled an inverted pyramid. This format enables quick readability. Chronologically structured texts invite the reader to read the whole text, as the last piece of information in the text frequently has to be read to understand the point of the article (Kolstrup 2005:112, 113). Breaking up the linear time structure enables journalists to create 'shortcuts' between seemingly unrelated past and current events. Bell (1998) makes the time structure of news story visible as he takes the time of the lead event (the event that is actually newsworthy) as point zero. Times prior to this are labelled -1 for the event immediately preceding and -X the earliest occurrence in the reported background. The story may also report events subsequent to time labelled +1 etc. (Bell 1998:95). This analysis enables the visualization of the 'time-reach' of a single news story.

The discourse structure of news genre consists of attribution, abstract and the story proper (van Dijk 1988). There are three additional categories of material in a news story: background, commentary and the follow up. These represent the past, the (non-action) present and the future of the events described in the main action of the story. If the background goes back beyond the near past, it is classed as 'history' (Bell 1998:67). The background in a news discourse provides a way for journalists to comprehend the event and create a time perspective for their audiences. These structural elements disclose the temporality paradox of news: although journalists seek news as close to the present as possible (journalists are always keen to get the news fast and first), many news stories would not be stories at all if some degree of shared historic depth could not be assumed (Schudson:80, 84).

In general, historical references serve many useful functions in the news story, not just by augmenting the story with context, but also by adding new pieces of evidence, revising a once-agreed past, marking a commemoration, and giving the story a narrative context (Winfield et al.: 290). In addition to the background and history, the audience can find historical background elements if the news story is analysed from the intertextuality approach. Fairclough (referring to Kristeva 1986) provides an approach that enables to reveal how the time structure of a single news story is linked to other discourses both horizontally and vertically:

On the one hand there are 'horizontal' intertextual relations of a 'dialogical' sort (though what are usually seen as monologues are [---] dialogical in this sense) between a text and those which precede and follow it in the chain of texts. [---] On the other hand, there are 'vertical' intertextual relations between a text and other texts which constitute its more or less immediate or distant contexts: text is historically linked with various time-scales and along various parameters including texts which are more or less contemporary with it (Fairclough 1992:103).

The intertextuality approach broadens the category of background covering "events prior to the central action of the story and may include either recent past events or more remote history" (Bell 1998:88). Absorbing different types of texts (usually fragments of texts) from various past periods into syncretic relations empowers news discourse to create more complex temporality than just a chain of events on a time scale: e.g. tangible historicity, historical interpretations of certain events, future predictions announced in the past etc.

According to how different time horizons are related to one another and how this relationship is conceptualized, time models and time patterns or chronotypes (Bender and Wellbery 1991) can be differentiated in news items, such as biographical time (someone's life story), political time, the time horizon of a generation etc. (Schudson 1986). Thus, chronotypes (time-types) represent culturally, socially, historically and politically formed conceptions of being temporal: the patterns through which time is depicted (in a news story) simultaneously reflect how events, institutions and social actors are discursively integrated into the idea of the national. If the problem of combining the present, past and future in creating news forms our first level of analysis, the issue about the biographic, cultural and social conceptualization of temporality through chronotypes forms the second level of analysis. The issue here is which chronotypes actualize in the news (re)producing national temporality, how those chronotypes interact, and what their interrelations are and their relationship towards the whole, i.e. the message of the news item.

Chronotypes, as far as they can be reproduced and changed, have a history (or histories); they are not created from either nowhere or from nothing, but are created from an existing cultural repertoire (Bender and Wellbery: 4). In addition, the form of anniversary journalism necessitates memory. At this point a link is initiated between the notion of chronotype and cultural memory theories to be born in mind when studying how national temporality is created. The idea that chronotypes are based upon an existing interpretation of time in a culture links well with the recently indicated concept in collective memory research that no commemoration act is created out of a void, but is based upon knowledge of preceding commemoration practices (Olick 2007). Another connection is created around the relationships of time and narrative. Chronotypes contribute to creating national identity through their narrativity and are thus based on memory, reproducing it. As James Wertsch (2002) has pointed out in his concept of a 'distributive version of collective memory', narratives are cognitive instruments, tools that offer both 'affordances' and 'constraints'. The aspects that narratives offer to remembering are the elements of temporal organization and emplotment, which includes both a 'grasp' of events, the actors and a moral scheme. Collective memory embodies an orientation to the past, as do news agenda to the future; and together both frame the reporting of news. According to an exemplary study by Lang and Lang (1989), journalists invoke the past with four purposes: to delimit an era, to provide yardsticks by which they can evaluate the significance of an event, to draw explicit analogies, or to give short-hand explanations; and, as over time personal memories of events tend to fade and become more remote, the more important is mediation for the event to be remembered. In evoking the past for present purposes, journalists act as memory agents by making use of the narrative resources of a particular textual community, as well as mediating the different voices and versions of the past. The third level of analysis deals with the issue about the modes and strategies of narrativization of national temporality in anniversary news, with the ways of evoking certain 'memories' of the past and the means of acting out journalistic authority.

4. Non-cyclic construction of national temporality

We have analysed, as an example of a non-cyclic anniversary news, a story on Estonian Public Television (September 1, 2007), in which the inauguration of a monument to Johann Voldemar Jannsen, an important figure of Estonian cultural history serves as the newsworthy impetus. Newsworthiness within the inauguration of the monument appears non-recurrently, linked to a significant event in Estonian history, the 150th anniversary of the first daily Estonian-language newspaper. The presence of the President of Estonia adds value to the newsworthiness. In this context journalists not only actualize but evaluate history. However, most of the TV audience would probably not have recollected that 150 years have passed since the first daily newspaper was published in Estonian.

The visual text of the news story (presented in the left column of Table 1) stresses the importance of the event: the camera shows different well-known and powerful people in Estonia who have come together to celebrate the event. The news text is explicitly intertextual, as it incorporates fragments from speeches of newsworthy people (speech genre is explicitly present in the news story) at the event, as well as absorbing texts from the past. That aspect Fairclough labels as "manifest intertextuality (specific other texts are overtly drawn upon within a text)" (Fairclough:117). Visually the news story does not include any other time than 'today', the image creates a presentness although the verbal text is presented in the past simple tense. The temporal complexity of the news story is presented in the verbal text.

On the basis of Bell's time-scale, the historic 'reach' of the story is 150 years (-4) from the present day. Today's event has been presented in the past simple tense (i.e. The President told; the monument was inaugurated). The 150 years long period since the national awakening, which is represented by establishing the daily newspaper Perno Postimees in the news item, has been constructed as 'continuous' uninterrupted process (From that moment on the continuous Estonian press ...). Explicitly the connection between today and the prior past is being presented ( ... the then edition; predecessor).

The 'time-reach' extends back to the first half of 18th century, the principle of separation of powers by Montesquieu, (-5) although that time is not explicitly mentioned. A history of ideas is being incorporated into the context of national history, while it thematises the issue of 'free press' as being eternal.

The vertical intertextual relationships are explicitly represented in the news text, as one of the speakers at the statue's opening ceremony quotes from the first issue of the newspaper Perno Postimees part of the text that was published 150 years ago (Jannsen addressed his readers by writing: "I greet you, my dear Estonian people!"). By quoting this old text in a current context, the speaker re-emphasised the phrases. By using this reference, the news item about inaugurating Jannsen's monument gains another one, in addition to the motive of the journalistically historic beginning--the motive of the national beginning.

Estonian ethnic cultural narrative based on linguistic identity is actualized which feeds the self-stereotype of Estonians as an educationally curious, literate people. Jannsen's historic address my dear Estonian people is interpreted through a quote by politician and historian Mart Laar in terms of disruption and progress: progress represents national development leading to establishing a nation state, which launches from (a positive) interruption--a mental turn in Estonian national history by establishing the continuous publishing of a daily newspaper ([it] actually changed Estonian history). Creating a linear causation between different 'phases' of national development (country people--Estonian people--Estonian nation), the idea of a homogeneous time of difference (Estonianness) is being (re)created, which enabled the consolidation of the modern nation state (cf. Spivak 1991, Bender and Wellbery:9).

Building, through Jannsen, links between establishing a regular daily newspaper and ethnic patriotism and creating a nation state (future in the past) and also current conflicts are being contested. The latter reference was in President Ilves' speech, which touched on the relationships between state powers, the public, and the media (the fourth estate and the watchdog of democracy). During the entire news item, Jannsen's biography serves for the national idea. The biographical chronotype is implicit and contextual: the news text mentions the important acts carried out by Johan Voldemar Jannsen during his lifetime (Establishing Perno Postimees was not the only cultural merit by Jannsen. He was also the man to originate the tradition of the song festivals and while singing the national anthem of Estonia we should remember that it was Jannsen who wrote the lyrics.). Another reference of his creative importance to Estonian identity is incorporated into the news when the choir sings the Estonian national anthem. In that way the self-stereotype of Estonians (a singing nation) and the symbols of state are connected. In this news item no traditional biographical time (e.g. the news does not include biographical schemes, the important acts are not presented diachronically) is presented. However, as "biographical schemes endow the meaning of short-term action with long-term significance and link large stretches of individuals' life" (Luckmann 1991:161-162), and since we can propose that most of the viewers of the Estonian television news knew the main storyline of the biography of Jannsen, the news story indirectly links the biographical time of the man to the national time of the Estonian people.

5. Annual anniversary news--cyclic construction of national temporality

The anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty represents the type of news that is more or less presented each year. In 2009, commercial Television Kanal 2 broadcast a short news story concerning the Tartu Peace Treaty. In 2010, Estonia celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty, therefore as the news story was more than 5 minutes long, we shall present only excerpts from it.

In the 2009 news story, the combination of the visual and verbal texts creates a bridge between the past and present time. Verbally, only the headline of the news frames the currently newsworthy element: The President of Estonia lays a wreath on the grave of the Estonian statesman, Jaan Poska, who successfully headed the peace negotiations in Tartu. The verbal text presents the diachronic biography of this important statesman, which makes the biographic chronotype the central narrative in this news story. Visually the news also contain old photos that construct the authenticity of the time the treaty was signed. In this news story the vertical intertextuality is achieved by the use of old photos, i.e. the photos as a text. As news should have a meaning for the audience today, the year the treaty was signed is less important than the period that has since passed, 89 years. On the metalevel the news item constructs the founding story of the Estonian nation (the beginning), while other time constructions more or less serve this story. Poska's career has been 'biographized' (Luckmann:164) by being situated in the chronology of municipal and newly established national institutions. The other side of the story focuses on the event of signing the Peace Treaty and its relevance in the history of the Republic of Estonia. The photos of the document and signing procedure represent the function of authentication of the commemorated fact (2) and thereby legitimizing the commemorating institution. The latter has been amplified by the laconic, conventional and monologic character of the reporter's report, which helps to achieve an illusion of completeness against the background of discussions and contradictions about the Tartu Peace Treaty (cf. Table 3). The past has acquired the authoritative form of history by adding carefully chosen facts, chronological representation and archival discourse. By all news creating methods (visual and auditory) the official version of the meaning of the Tartu Peace Treaty has been represented. Hereby, history acts as a collective memory (Burke 1989), which is guarded by the state and its institutions. This celebrates the infinity of the institution of the state, creates continuity towards the future.

The 2010 news story about the Tartu Peace Treaty is more complex (it could be four different short news stories). The newsworthy events were the celebration of the historic day in Tartu via different events: a one-day exhibition of the Treaty document, a political demonstration concerning the Estonian-Russian border and the opening of the monument to commemorate the statesman and the head of the Estonian negotiating delegation Jaan Poska later in the evening. So the viewers can chronologically follow the selected moments of celebration throughout the entire day.

At the same time, the news story refers to the events 90 years ago and also to the events in 1940. As one of the main focuses of the news story was the exhibition of the historical document of the Treaty, the historical discourse related to this event is incorporated into the news. The audience can also see the Tartu Peace Treaty document as it was exhibited for one day. Hence, the past is exposed as authentically as possible. The news story involves not only the interviewees commemorating the present, today, as television also creates the impression of a past continuous tense. The distant context is incorporated into the news text more visually than verbally. The time leaps are very noticeable as the visual text includes excerpts of documentaries from the period of the Tartu Peace Treaty days and from the 1940s. This is a 'manifest intertextuality' where historical text is overtly drawn upon within the text (Fairclough:117).

The future dimension is implicit in this news story. Visual text shows small children holding the national flags. We can assume that the words of the Estonian Prime Minister (I believe that there are no such people out there who wouldn't appreciate today's importance. This day is extremely significant for the Estonian state ...) are contextually directed to the continuity in the future.

The news item of 2010 about the Tartu Peace Treaty has many common genrestrategic features with the news item of 2009. Just as one year earlier, the central figure being commemorated was Jaan Poska whose national role and the monument constitute one newsworthy act for the news item. Although the news item of 2010 does not include any explicitly biographical time, the commemoration of Poska performs a hidden dialogue with his nationally historicized career, which 'addresses' the viewer from 'behind' the news text. The same effect occurs while presenting the trajectory of the Treaty document's 'fate': hereby the narratives important in the post-Soviet cultural memory start referring to 'returning home' (the original of the treaty ... was for one day brought home ... from were it had been away for 90 years) and the related 'national disruption' (after the coup d' etat; were taken to Sweden) (cf. Koresaar 2005). (3)

Also, as in the news item of 2009, the Tartu Peace Treaty was constructed as the 'onset' of the state (the continuity of our independence begins ...; if that day had not taken place, we wouldn't be standing here) and its longevity is being blessed (it shall last eternally). In addition, the main authentication strategy of the 'onset' is being repeated by bringing in the historic and archival discourses.

The major difference of the 2010 news item of the previous year is the festive nature of the anniversary, 2010 is the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Treaty. Whenever a major anniversary of an important political event occurs, several political interest groups move to bring their messages into the arena of 'symbolic politics of public time' (Halas 2002). Both in 2005 and 2010, a political demonstration took place concerning the Estonian-Russian borderline issues, which directly affects people living either side of the border, such as the Setu ethnic group (Meeleavaldused 2005). In 2005, some public figures also expressed views that differed from the officially accepted version of the Tartu Peace Treaty (Hvostov 2005, Medijainen 2005), according to which if that day had not taken place, we wouldn't be standing here. The news item of 2010 contains no conflict but the state authoritative voice does not massively dominate either as it did in 2009. For instance the vox pop, which revealed that some respondents did not know the relevance of the day (some know, some do not) and the footage of the demonstrators.


This paper focused on anniversary journalism as a management mechanism of 'banal nationalism' (Billig 1995), which sees its role in reminding a community of its place in the 'world of nations' by re-producing national temporality. The main focus of the study was about time being managed in anniversary television news and to achieve this aim, a tripartite methodology has been proposed to deconstruct the modes and strategies of the temporization of the national. By using the tripartite methodology, the complexity and structural power of news discourse as temporality constructor become visible. The deconstruction of the journalistic interpretation of a national anniversary (as it is presented in television news discourse) provides an opportunity to analyze how cultural templates, canonized historical narratives, myths and ideologies but also speeches, historical records and national rituals are mixed or embedded into news discourse. Hence, the methodology on the one hand enables to see the complexity of everyday news flow. On the other hand the methodology enables to open up the variety of time conceptions that could be found from a single news items. The complexity of the temporal matrix of news was revealed while we deconstructed the variety of devices, of which the news discourse consists of constructing social and cultural categories of time.

Among the variety of news types (e.g. science news, consumer news etc.) anniversary news play a substantial role in (re)-constructing collective/cultural memory. We can distinguish between calendar-linked anniversaries that are celebrated yearly and the infrequent 'single anniversaries'. The main difference between the cyclic and single anniversary news come from the repetitiveness.

As anniversaries usually include some kind of ritual celebration (event), it is important to note that television news could present these celebration events, which happened some time in the past, visually as 'now' for the viewers while the verbal text is in the past simple tense. Within a few minutes, news visually creates the simulation of participation in events that in reality have lasted for far longer than represented by the news.

One of the temporization strategies our analyzed news stories have in common is that they refer to the period since the event, e.g. 90 years and 150 years, rather than to the year (e.g. 1920). Thus building up a sense of duration seems to be one strategy of linking current newsworthy events to the past. Within these periods, the 'turning points' that affect our past and present are constructed: the beginning of the Estonian-language weekly newspaper, the moments in the careers of individuals or the significant travel aspects of an important document. Accentuation of the temporal turning points in the news stories refers to another important strategy in anniversary news: the beginnings and endings mark the dynamics of the continuity and interruptions of national temporality.

In both types of anniversary news, the narrativizations of time, dependence on meaningful chronotypes and other cultural resources occur. The analysis of our anniversary news shows a construction of two narrative templates topical in contemporary Estonia: state-nationality and cultural-nationality. In order to present collective history, biographical time is grounded in a group's shared history. Thus by synchronizing biographical, cultural and state time horizons we could follow the construction of national temporality in anniversary news.

The use of vertical intertextuality (e.g. old photos or documentaries that are verbally explained today) and the variety of 'voices' in news stories brings us to the issue about the journalistic authority's relationship to the perception of time. In other words, to discern how journalists perform as memory agents in shaping public time and collective memory. Anniversary news in comparison to other genres of anniversary media (features, interviews, whole-day reportage of a national celebration etc.) provides journalists with quite passive roles. Journalists naturally select the facts and episodes, and construct them into interpretative frames. But the level of journalistic commitment depends on the type of news stories. While the short 'Tartu Peace' news story did include very little journalistic interpretation, the other two anniversary news expose more complex interrelations between journalism and other institutions (e.g. The President, the municipality), organizations (e.g. museums and exhibitions) and individuals in society concerning their involvement in the commemoration. For example, the question by the reporter to the Prime Minister, "But what [do you] say to those people who cannot or refuse to respect the events of 90 years ago?" represents a confrontation with the belief that all people in Estonia share the one and the same narrative about the past. Thus, the role of journalists as collective memory agents in news depends on the news story and is dominantly implicit. Concurrently anniversary news empowers various strategies for the construction of public time.


This research was supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence of Cultural Theory); SF0180002s07 and the Estonian Science Foundation (Grant 8190).


Halliki Harro-Loit

Institute of Journalism and Communication

University of Tartu

Ulikooli 18

50090 Tartu, Estonia

Tel.: + 372 737 5189



Arjakas, KUllo (2008) "Tartu rahu piiritulbad". [Frontier Posts of Tartu Peace Treaty.] Diplomaatia (Tallinn) 76. 5Btt_news%5D=490&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=426&cHash=199ebc1ae3 [last visited 20.01.2010]

Bell, Allan (1991) The language of news media. Oxford: Blackwell

Bell, Allan (1995) "News time". Time & Society 4, 3, 305-328.

Bell, Allan (1998) "The discourse structure of news stories". In Approaches to media discourse, 64104. Allan Bell and Peter Garrett, eds. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishers.

Bender, John and David E. Wellbery (1991) "Introduction". In Chronotypes: the construction of time, 1-15. John Bender and David E. Wellbery, eds. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

ben-Aaron, Diana (2005) "Given and news: evaluation in newspaper stories about national anniversaries". Text 25, 5, 691-718.

Billig, Michael (1995) Banal nationalism. London: Sage Publications.

Burke, Peter (1989) "History as Social Memory". In Memory: history, culture and the mind, 97-113. Thomas Butler, ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ebbrecht, Tobias (2007) "History, public memory and media event: codes and conventions of historical event-television in Germany". Media History 13, 2-3, 221-234.

Carey, James (1989) Communication as culture. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Carlson, Matt (2007) "Making memories matter: journalistic authority and the memorializing discourse around Mary McGrory and David Brinkley". Journalism 8, 2, 165-183.

Edensor, Tim (2006) "Reconsidering national temporalities". European Journal of Social Theory 9, 4, 525-545.

Edy, J. A. and M. Daradanova (2006) "Reporting through the lens of the past". Journalism 7, 131- 151.

Eriksen, Thomas (1993) "Formal and informal nationalism". Ethnic and Racial Studies 19, 1-25.

Fairclough, Norman (1992) Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fiske, John and John Hartley (1978) Reading television. London: Methuen.

Halas, Elzbieta (2002) "Symbolic politics of public time and collective memory: the Polish case". European Review 10, 115-129.

Hobsbawm, Eric and Terence Ranger, eds. (1983) The invention of tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hoskins, Andrew (2001a) "Mediating time: the temporal mix of television". Time & Society 10, 2/3, 213-233.

Hoskins, Andrew (2001b) "New memory: mediating history". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 21, 4, 333-346.

Hvostov, Andrei (2005) "Tartu rahutus". [The dispeace of Tartu.] Eesti Ekspress (Tallinn) 03.02. E976D7BC771EE165C2256F9C00362C8B [last visited 20.01.2010].

Jaworski, Adam, Richard Fitzgerald, and Deborah Morris (2003) "Certainty and speculation in news reporting of the future: the execution of Timothy McVeigh". Discourse Studies 5, 1, 33-50.

Kitch, Carolyn (2003a) "Anniversary journalism, collective memory, and the cultural authority to tell the story of the American past". The Journal of Popular Culture 36, 1, 44-67.

Kitch, Carolyn (2003b) "Generational identity and memory in american newsmagazines". Journalism 4, 2, 185-202.

Kitch, Carolyn (2007). "Selling the 'authentic past': the New York Times and the branding of history". Westminster Papers in Communication & Culture 4, 4, 24-41.

Kitch, Carolyn (2008) "Placing journalism inside memory--and memory studies". Memory Studies 1, 3, 311-320.

Kristeva, Julia (1986) "Word, dialogue and novel". In The Kristeva Reader, 34-61. Toril Moi, ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Kolstrup, Soren (2005) "Telling the news: Danish newspapers 1873-1941/2000". In Diffusion of the news paradigm 1850-2000, 105-122. Svennik Hoyer and Horst Pottker, eds. Goteborg: Nordicom.

Koresaar, Ene (2005) Elu ideoloogiad: kollektiivne malu ja autobiograafiline minevikutolgendus eestlaste elulugudes. [Ideologies of life. collective memory and autobiographical meaning-making of the past in Estonian post-Soviet life stories.] Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Koresaar, Ene (2008) "Nostalgia ja selle puudumine eestlaste malukultuuris: eluloouurija vaatepunkt". [Nostalgia and its absence in Estonian remembrance culture: the view of a biography researcher.] Keel ja Kirjandus (Tallinn) 10, 760-771.

Lauk, Epp, Inta Brikse, Jonas Bulota, Ainars Dimants, Sergejs Kruks, Bronius Ragoutis, Richards Treijs, and Rems Trofimovs (1993) In Towards a civic society: the Baltic media's long road to freedom. Svennik Hoyer, Epp Lauk, and Peeter Vihalemm, eds. Tartu: Baltic Association for Media Research and Nota Baltica Ltd.

Le, Elisabeth (2006) "Collective memories and representations of national identity in editorials". Journalism Studies 7, 5, 708-728.

Luckmann, Thomas (1991) "The constitution of human life in time". In Chronotypes: the construction of time, 151-166. John Bender and David E. Wellbery, eds. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Medijainen, Eero (2005) "Tartu rahu varjatud nurgad". [The hidden edges of Tartu Peace Treaty.] Eesti Paevaleht (Tallinn) 02.02. [last visited 20.01.2010].

Meeleavaldused 2005 = Meeleavaldused ja koosolekud Tartu rahu aastapaeval [Demonstrations and meetings on the anniversary of Tartu Peace Treaty, 02.02.2005, 16:43. index.php?0547461 [last visited 20.01.2010]

Molotch, Harvey and Marilyn Lester (1974) "News as purposive behaviour: on the strategic use of routine events, accidents, and scandals". American Sociological Review 39, 101-112.

Moores, Shaoun (1995) "TV discourse and 'time-space distanciation': on mediated interaction in modern society". Time & Society 4, 3, 329-344.

Olick, Jeffrey (2007) The politics of regret: on collective memory and historical responsibility. New York: Routledge.

Schlesinger, Philips (1999) "Putting "reality" together: BBC news". In News: a reader, 121-133. Howard Tumber, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Originally published in 1978, London and New York: Methuen.)

Schudson, Michael (1986) "When? Deadlines, datelines and history". In Reading the news: a pantheon guide to popular culture, 79-108. Robert Karl Manoff and Michael Schudson, eds. New York: Pantheon Books.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1991) "Time and timing: law and history". In Chronotypes: the construction of time, 99-117. John Bender and David E. Wellbery, eds. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Zandberg, Eyal (2010) "The right to tell the (right) story: journalism, authority and memory". Media, Culture & Society 32, 1, 5-24.

Zerubavel, Evitar (2003) Time maps: collective memory and the social shape of the past. London: University of Chicago Press.

van Dijk, Teun A. (1988) News as discourse. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

West, Brad (2008) "Collective memory and crisis: the 2002 Bali bombing, national heroic archetypes and the counter-narrative of cosmopolitan nationalism". Journal of Sociology 44, 337-353.

Wertsch, James V. (2002) Voices of collective remembering. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Winfield, Betty Houchin, Barbara Friedman, and Vivara Trisnadi (2002) "History as the metaphor through which the current world is viewed: British and American newspapers' uses of history following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks". Journalism Studies 3, 2, 289-300.

Winfield, Betty Houchin and Janice Hume (2007) "The continuous past: historical referents in nineteenth-century American journalism". Journalism & Communication Monographs 9, 3, 119-174.

Halliki Harro-Loit and Ene Koresaar

University of Tartu

(1) For instance the fairy-tale about the Little Red Riding Hood in news format would not begin "Once upon a time, there was a little girl living with her mother" or "One day her mother told Little Red Riding Hood that ...", but rather as "Huntsman saves a girl and her grandmother from the stomach of a wolf today", followed by a historic context about how Little Red Riding Hood took off to Granny's place and the huntsman's story based on an interview of how he launched the rescue activities on arriving at Granny's house.

(2) Jaan Poska's biography used for personfying history can also be considered as a part of the authentication strategy.

(3) The template of 'returning home' in Estonian national narrative represents the 'restoration' of national temporality after the time of the 'rupture' representing the Soviet occupations.
Table 1. "Today the monument of Johann Voldemar
Jannsen was opened", verbatim transcription of
the news text.

Representation of      Verbatim               Timeline schema
visual text of         transcription of       (Bell 1998)
newscast               verbal text of news

The anchor             The bronze statue of   0 the news-
broadcaster            Johann Voldemar        evaluated moment
                       Jannsen was
                       inaugurated today in

The anchor             150 years ago, under   -4
broadcaster            the editing of
                       Jannsen the
                       newspaper Perno
                       Postimees appeared.

The anchor             From that moment on    -3 continuous tense
broadcaster            the continuous         since the moment
                       Estonian press         150 years ago
                       publication started.

The anchor             Both Postimees and
broadcaster            Parnu Postimees        +1 Connection
                       consider the then      between today and
                       edition to be their    then (the past)

Panoramic view         The statue of          -2 event prior to
moving from people     Jannsen was made by    the central action
in Ruutli Street via   Mati Karmin and it     of the story date of
the choir on to        cost over 600,000      creating the
President Ilves,       kroons, of which       monument not
Minister Janes, news   half was provided by   indicated precisely
publisher Kadastik     the state and the
and others.            other half was
                       contributed by Parnu

President Ilves        The statue of Johann   -4.5 (biographical
unveils the            Voldemar Jannsen,      time of Jannsen)
monument,              the creator of Perno   -4 (5 June 1857) and
                       Postimees, which       0 (the statue)
                       appeared on 5 June
                       1857, was erected on
                       Ruutli Street, in
                       front of the office
                       of Parnu Postimees.

* 3 Local celebrity    At the inauguration,   0
with a child, two      President Toomas
elderly persons next   Hendrik Ilves spoke
to her, crowd behind   about the press,
them,                  often defined as the
                       Fourth Power
* 4 President Ilves
giving a speech,

* 5 Minister of
Culture Laine Janes
in folk costume with
flowers, Mart Laar
(politician) etc.

* 6 Happy old people   As to the principle    -5
among the crowd, one   of the separation of
lady holding a         powers by
reprint of the         Montesquieu, he had
original Perno         in mind only the
Postimees.             legislative, the
                       executive and the
                       court powers.

* 7 The reprint of     According to the       Time factor is
the original Perno     President, calling     absent
Postimees.             the press the fourth
                       power would be

* 8 People listening   He said that the       Reference to longer
to the President's     press could be         time period
speech.                called a rank in
                       society, as later
                       philosophers have

* 9 President TOOMAS   "Being defined as a    Historical ideas
HENDRIK ILVES,         'power' and a          presented as
delivering the         'watchdog', the        continuously topical
speech                 press tends to
                       legitimize only
* 10 Jannsen's         ideas tackled by the
monument with          Government, the
people, from the       Parliament and the
entrance of            Court. Or in other
Postimees building     words: being the
                       fourth power and not
Speech is narrated     a rank in society
as in live             allows the state to
broadcast, though      set the agenda for
the speech is          the press."
actually recorded
and edited

Reporter's report      Jannsen approached     Historical
                       his readers by         background
                       writing: "I greet      -3
                       you, my dear
                       Estonian people!"

Mart Laar speaking     "Those lines           -4
* 12 MART LAAR         actually changed       -3.5
historian; at the      Estonian history.
back: Jannsen's        Maybe these lines
monument, president    are the most
Ilves, etc.            important ones ever
                       written, meaning
* 13 Kadastik, etc     that--as through
                       these lines the
* 14 Jannsen's         hitherto 'country
monument,              people' turned into
                       integral Estonian
* 15 Monument          people. And only
surrounded by          five years passed,
elderly people,        after which the
elderly people in      meaning of Estonian
the crowd.             people and Estonian
                       nation, about which
                       nobody knew anything
                       in 1857, had spread
                       all over Estonia.

* 18 Souvenirs         Establishing Perno     -4
presented to the       Postimees was not
sculptor               the only cultural
                       merit by Jannsen.

* 19 The monument--    He also was the man    -3 (the tradition of
sliding from the       to originate the       song festival was
feet up to the face,   tradition of song      established in 1869)
                       festivals and while    -3 and +1 connected
* 20 Choir             singing the national   in mentioning the
performing the         anthem of Estonia,     national anthem
national anthem        we should remember
                       that it was Jannsen
                       who wrote the

Table 2. "President IIves laid a wreath on Jaan Poska's
grave". (02.02.2009, 19.00, Kanal 2, newscast Reporter).

Representation      Verbatim transcription        Timeline schema
of visual text of   of verbal text of news        (Bell 1998)
news broadcast      broadcast

The anchor          President Ilves laid a        0 the news-evaluated
broadcaster         wreath on Jaan Poska's        moment

President IIves     The Estonian statesman Jaan   -3
lays a wreath on    Poska was born on 24          -1
Jaan Poska's        January 1866 and died on 7    time between -3 and
grave.              March 1920. Poska was the     -1
                    Mayor of Tallinn, the
                    Deputy Prime Minister of
                    the interim government of
                    Estonia, a Minister of
                    Justice, and the first
                    Foreign Minister of

Photos of Tartu     Author: Jaan Poska headed     -1 (today 89 years
Peace Treaty        the Estonian delegation at    ago)
and the signing     the negotiations with
ceremony.           Soviet Russia. Today 89
                    years ago, Poska signed the
                    Estonian-Russian peace
                    treaty, which put an end to
                    the Estonian War of
                    Independence and by which
                    Soviet Russia recognized
                    the independence of

Table 3: News story about the 90th anniversary of Tartu Peace
Treaty, Kana1 2 'Reporter', 2.02 2010 (shortened transcript).

Representation of         Verbatim transcription     Timeline
visual text of news       of verbal text of news     schema (Bell 1998)
broadcast                 broadcast

Reporter standing, the    Today, on the 90th         0--today, news
car of the news channel   anniversary of the Tartu   evaluated moment
with the Estonian flag    Peace Treaty many
in the background         prominent statesmen--
                          starting with the
                          President and the Chair
                          of the Parliament and
                          concluding with the
                          Prime Minister and many
                          other Ministers have
                          gathered in the
                          university town. The
                          entire town has been
                          decorated with flags.

Pictures of children      Patriotic lyric song--     0
and other people with     "Estonia, you are my
flags in the streets of   homeland ".
contemporary Tartu

Photos of the Peace       Text of the Reporter in    -6
Treaty document and       the background: If the     (90 year ago) +
historic views of         treaty had not been        continuous time
Tartu;                    concluded 90 years ago,
                          we would probably not be
                          living in the Republic
                          of Estonia in its
                          current meaning.

Photos of the Peace       The international treaty   -6
Treaty document and       between the Republic of    -5.9
historic views of         Estonia and Soviet         -5.8
Tartu;                    Russia put and end to      -5.7
                          the War of Independence,
                          demarcated Estonia's
                          eastern border and,
                          importantly, Soviet
                          Russia recognized
                          Estonia's independence.

The Minister of Defence   The celebration of the     -3 (celebration
laying a wreath at the    anniversary of the vital   started in the
statue of Kalevipoeg,     treaty already started     morning)
commemorating the         in the morning, laying
victory in the War of     wreaths at the monument
Independence              to the War of

Portrait of the           Minister: "If that day     -6 until 0
minister                  had not taken place, we    (a period since
                          wouldn't be standing       the historical
                          here. It would be          turning point up
                          impossible to equate       to the present
                          anything else to its       moment)
                          importance. The
                          continuity of our
                          independence begins on
                          the day we were
                          recognized, and
                          hopefully it shall last
                          eternally ..." /---/

Flag on the reporter's    Reporter behind the        0 (today) ...
car; interior of the      scene: And today there
premises where the        was a unique opportunity
Treaty was signed; the    to see with your own
Treaty document,          eyes the document, which
prominent people          enabled the Republic of    -6
looking at the Treaty     Estonia to emerge. The
document                  original of the Treaty--
                          with a very complicated
                          fate--was for one day
                          brought to the building,
                          from where it had been
                          absent for 90 years
                          /---/ The significant
                          document was not be
                          touched, but one could
                          have a close look at it.

Priit Pirsko, the state   "After the coup in June,   -4 (after the coup
archivist; documental     the Government started     in June
footage of Soviet Navy    discussions of how to
cruisers on the Baltic    preserve the most          -5 March 1940
Sea                       important national
                          documents /.../ by
                          evacuating them out of
                          the country and already
                          in March 1940 four
                          sealed caskets [were
                          taken to Sweden]..."

Children's choir          Children's choir           0
singing, Foreign          singing.                   manifest vertical
Minister and the Mayor                               and horizontal
of Tartu ceremonially                                intertextuality
cutting the ribbon to
open the exhibition of
the Treaty document.

Footage of people in      Vox pop among the
the streets               ypassers-by if they knew
                          the reason for hoisted
                          national flags. Some
                          know, some do not

Children with flags in    Reporter at the back:      0-5
the street, interior of   /---/ But what to tell
the building with         those people who cannot
historic paintings,       or refuse to respect the
Prime Minister,           events of 90 years ago?
historic photos on the
walls of the interior     Prime Minister: "I
                          believe that there are
                          no such people out there
                          who wouldn't appreciate
                          today's importance. This
                          day is extremely
                          significant for the
                          Estonian state. The
                          Tartu Peace Treaty has
                          been called the birth
                          certificate of Estonia
                          --and that's the truth.

Footage of the picket     Reporter at the back:      0 (during the day)
with close-ups of the     During the day in          -2 was a public
banners, demonstrators    Vanemuise Street, next     meeting
                          to the building where
                          the treaty was signed,
                          there was a public
                          demonstration where
                          people demanded re-
                          establishing the
                          frontiers of Estonia
                          designated by the

The President, the        In the evening darkness,   -1 (in the evening
Prime Minister and the    the monument was           darkness ...)
Mayor shaking hands       inaugurated to
with people; flags are    commemorate the
held by student           Statesman and Head of
corporations, Prime       the Estonian negotiating
Minister, Mayor and a     delegation, Jaan Poska.
former dissident          Another patriotic song
inaugurating the          "Lord Save St Mary's
memorial bas-relief       Land"
COPYRIGHT 2010 Estonian Academy Publishers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Harro-Loit, Halliki; Koresaar, Ene
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EXES
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Previous Article:Time and memory: a cultural perspective.
Next Article:Social time as the basis of generational consciousness.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters