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Introducing Media Representations 5

Steve Campsall | Wednesday December 08, 2010

Categories: Introductory Resources, Intro to Media Representations

‘Narrative’ (2) - The Used of Narrative

Even advertisements are often created with a kind of ‘story’ lurking hidden within them. In ads for household cleaners, for instance, the ‘germs’ and ‘dirt’ are often presented as ‘the baddies’ and we need the product to overcome them. If you analyse the ad below, can you uncover a ‘goodie’ and a ‘villain’ as well as a ‘problem’ that needs to be overcome?

  • The technical term for the way a story is told – whether fictional or non-fiction – is called narrative.

Narrative just means ‘story’.

A narrative centres on how an individual (the ‘goodie’, properly called the protagonist of the narrative) tackles an issue or a problem created by a ‘villain’ of some kind.

This problem is technically referred to as the conflict of the narrative.

The individual is often created or presented as some kind of ‘hero’ who has to face and overcome a ‘villain’ – the one who creates the problem or conflict.

For example, a news story often starts by providing a small amount of straightforward background information.

This tends to be the kind of dry detail that answers questions such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’.

This provides an introductory summary but the story soon moves into a narrative style that is more of an interesting and emotional personal story, one that focuses not on any general issue but on the life of a particular

individual who is presented just like the main character in a fictional story, someone who has been forced to struggle against some kind of problem caused by a ‘villain’ of some kind.

The mother of the alleged bomber in the news story on the right is presented in the story as a kind of heroine.

She has been forced to struggle against and overcome a problem, just as happens in fictional narratives and stories.

By using the technique of narrative, news producers have tapped into a way of telling the news...


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