Media witnessing and the ripeness of time

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35 Scopus citations


'Media witnessing' designates a new configuration of mediation, representation and experience that is involved in the transformation of our sense of historical significance. It refers to the witnessing performed in, by and through the media: the appearance of witnesses in media reports, the possibility of media themselves bearing witness and the positioning of media audiences as witnesses to depicted events. Media witnessing is defined by three overlapping domains of practice: (1) the ways in which ubiquitous audiovisual media make the potential significance of incidentally recorded events available for immediate public reproduction; (2) the organization of interpersonal and mass media as hybrid assemblages of human and technological agents with shifting boundaries that defy traditional models of mass communication, producing ad-hoc communities of attention on a global scale; (3) the incorporation of audiences into a system of perpetual vigilance and the creation of cosmopolitan risk publics who perceive their commonality through representations of shared vulnerability. Media witnessing thus marks the age of the post-media event: it casts the audience as the ultimate addressee and primary producer, making the collective both the subject and the object of everyday witnessing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)594-610
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • assemblage
  • mass communication
  • media theory
  • media witnessing
  • risk society
  • temporality


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