For the Record: Journalism Recording Technologies from “Fish Hooks” to Frame Rates

Hewa, Nelanthi
Journalism Studies

James Carey famously repositioned the spotlight on the techniques of journalism itself as a practice devoted to the task of defining “what is to be considered real: what can be written about and how it can be understood.” This article looks at shorthand, the tape recorder, and the cameraphone as material objects that shape journalism as a practice even as they, in turn, are discursively constructed by and situated in journalists’ quest to establish their authority to define, in Carey’s words, what is real. A historical study of recording technologies ultimately demonstrates both a continuing desire to escape the “imperfect medium” of the human body in favour of one that is able to better select, process, and store information (Kittler, F. 1999. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Edited by G. Winthrop-Young. Stanford University Press), and the ultimate futility of that desire. If they fail, it is at least partly because those tools are already embedded with certain values of who is human, who is trustworthy, and who is or can be objective.