This chapter overviews and discusses scholarly contributions to how media production can be understood as an act of thinking about and planning communicative performances in the media. The core features of large-scale media production – advanced technology, complex organization, extensive divisions of labor – can be understood in terms of how they enable and shape performances for absent, multiple, and mass audiences. This chapter draws a rough framework of forms and levels of planning performances within media production; it also looks at some concrete examples in the production of news, talk shows, and reality programs. Finally, the relationship between performance, identity, and society is addressed via discussions of the concepts of “discipline” and the “persona.”
Today it has become commonplace in the humanities and social sciences to hold that the communicative actions of humans in social settings can be likened to performances. Theories of performance call our attention to the fact that performing is a basic aspect of social life, insinuating itself even into the ostensibly most real and authentic behaviors. Performance is, in effect, endemic to human communication. If we allow this for communication in general, it should be warranted to say the same of communication through the media, since media performance could be seen as a subset, a particular species of communicative performance. The performances of ...