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Living Word and Audiality as a Problem of Modern Media Text

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Shestakova Eleonora

Submitted: December 20th, 2021 Reviewed: February 18th, 2022 Published: April 13th, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.103794

Journalism Edited by Wan Norshira Wan Mohd Ghazali

From the Edited Volume

Journalism [Working Title]

Assistant Prof. Wan Norshira Wan Mohd Ghazali, Dr. Saodah Wok and Dr. Shafizan Mohamed

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In today’s media communications, due to several objective factors, the media text is undergoing radical changes. Media text is increasingly filled with and oriented towards the sounding, living word in its essence and a culture of audiality. Audiality in media text makes the most of the achievements and language of the culture of emotional turn, which should be taken into account when analyzing media text and the media process. All this leads to a change in the status of reality, the human being, and the culture of understanding, which is also important for journalism and media communication in general, especially given the growth of non-verbal components in the media text. Media texts in which the auditory principle is strong have hardly become the subject of independent study. In this connection, two urgent tasks are central. It is important to justify, firstly, the living word as a key concept for describing audiality in media texts; secondly, the theoretical foundations and principles of the study of audiality in media texts.


  • journalism
  • living word
  • media text
  • culture of audiality
  • emotional turn

1. Introduction

For traditional journalism, the leading factors were the figure of the author and politics, the reputation of the publisher, and the mass media. The role of a journalist, publicist, and also a writer, publicists were often played by the same person, a group of creative personalities. Historians of journalism, representing the East Slavic scientific tradition [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], have been writing about this for a long time. The journalism of the past was predominantly person-centered, directed, withdrawn to the publicist, journalist as a civic authority, a public intellectual. The voice of the audience in this model of journalism occupied the peripheral location of a kind of silent majority in the sense that the position of the audience manifested itself indirectly. Foremost of all, it was expressed in the subscription-support of the circulation of the media, in letters, calls to the editorial office of the publication. Changes in capabilities and priorities in the technical process have led to transformations in media communications.

In modern journalism, media text often occupies a leading place and attracts more attention than the personality of its author. The exception, perhaps, is a small percentage of columnists and public intellectuals. The media text, in a natural way, especially for new mass media, is saturated with the voices of the audience, which sound through comments on the official websites of publications, in social networks, and on live broadcasts. As a result, the media text often turns out to be the dominant hero of the media reality and media process. A successful media text is often reprinted, distributed in full and in partial, disassembled into citations countless times, not always with links to the original source. The media process is becoming more and more text-centred, which for almost 20 years experts in media linguistics have pointed [6]. Since the 2000s Ukrainian philologists have dedicated several separate dictionaries to the media text [7, 8, 9]. One of the significant scientific results of such systematic work on the study of the media text is the creation of the International Medialinguistic Commission at the International Committee of Slavic Studies (UNESCO) in 2011 and the international scholarly journal “Medialinguistics” was established in 2014 [10].

Despite the active scientific interest of researchers in a media text, media language, media speech, media stylistics and media discourse, there are still many unresolved issues. Media communications successfully and quickly master the latest information technologies, which leads to changes in the nature, structure, and capabilities of the media text. The media text is more and more filled and oriented towards the sounding, in essence living word and the culture of audiality. With printed texts based on a culture of writing, as Derrida defines it, and the media texts with visual elements theorists and practitioners of journalism and media communications know how to work, what methods and techniques to apply to construct and analyze them (Barthes, Eco, Van Dijk, Courtin). Media texts, in which the audiality principle is strong, almost did not become the subject of separate research. Although, about the unreasonable secondary role of the living word in the text, speech, the importance of understanding its nature and the principles of opposition, coexistence with the culture of writing, sign already in the 60s twentieth century the French philosophers Derrida, Deleuze, Meschonnic. The evolution of the media text has shown that these ideas of French structuralism and post-structuralism must be taken into account and applied to the theory and practice of media communications.

Modern media text is increasingly focused on working with a living word. In this regard, in the theory of journalism, media communications, a conceptual and terminological difficulty has already arisen that needs to be overcome: there is a relatively new phenomenon in media text—the strengthening of the positions of audiality and living word, but there is almost no theoretical and methodological basis for describing them. So, one of the current tasks is the importance of justifying a living word as a key concept for describing audiality in media text. These general theoretical difficulties are not surprising, though.

In addition, there is one more factor. The sounding word is the most difficult phenomenon for both practitioners and theorists of journalism because of its peculiar “elusiveness”, “no-object”, and the unavoidable, unrecoverable difficulty of fixation. However, without taking into account the fullness of the meanings of the living word, the integrity of the media text cannot exist. The modeling and representation of reality in a media text based on the living wordis always based on an ephemeral sense of the peculiar freedom, spontaneity and naturalness of such a media text. Media text focused on audiality culture creates the illusion of maximum objectivity, reliability and completeness of reflection of reality. But at the same time, a living wordis most effective in its impact on a mass audience, and the illusory speed, completeness and ease of perception of information is deceptive. The audience must have a sensitive social-cultural, everyday hear to catch and understand the shades of the meanings of such a media text. Therefore, it is important to define and characterize the methods of studying audiality in the media text. It is necessary to show why post-structuralism, semiotic approaches are still important, and why they are limited.

In this regard, the section of this article on research methodology is not a designation of already existing methods and techniques for studying media text, but substantiation of the theory of methodology. In other words, as a theorist of journalism and the theory of media text, a representative of media linguistics, it is important for me to argue the theory of the methodology for studying audiality and the living wordin media text. This is because this kind of theory has not been developed and has not been tested within the framework of the theory of media text. Such a task was at the margins of scientific interests also in connection with the fact that the process of globalization aims at a kind of unified media text, in which the information component prevails, firstly. Second, the media text in the global media process follows general patterns, being oriented towards a generalized, averaged audience. It is no coincidence that many mass media programs, projects and formats are sold and successfully broadcast all over the world. In this case, the media text is accompanied by subtitles, translations, or is adapted by local companies, channels, journalists, hosts talk shows, reality shows for national media spaces. This is where another problem arises. In the case of subtitles, translations into the national language, the media text loses, changes the essence, ideological, national, mentality sound of its living word, which leads to the transformation of the meaning of the media text as a whole. In the case of format adaptation, as is often the case with talk shows, reality shows, an alien national-social-cultural model in a living space alien for itself receives a new embodiment, sound and shades of meaning through the performance of other national living words, and through them appears memory cultures. Consequently, the formal-meaning and semantic principles of the media text enter into ambiguous relationships. It is possible to clarify them only by taking into account the attentive attitude to the essence, specifics and principles of the existence of a living word in the media text, which in the era of globalization reveals the significance of national, local-regional cultures and traditions.

This all assumes that this article is largely staged and theoretical in nature, which predetermines its main goals and objectives. First of all, it is necessary to identify and comment on the problematic field of audibility, audiality in the modern media text and media process. Then, necessary to show and characterize the key context of the problems that led to the idea of isolating the phenomenon of a living wordas an independent subject of research. It is equally important to outline those ideas, theories from scientific, philosophical thought of the second half of the 20th century, which served as the basis for defining the essence and tasks of the living word in modern social culture and media communications in particular. These are, first of all, the studies of French structuralism, post-structuralism and their followers, who worked with the concept of a living wordand related phenomena and concepts related to it.

It is necessary to focus on the fact that only traditional journalistic materials from various national media spaces cannot be the material for the study of audiality and the living word. As the practice of the media process shows, the hosts of reality shows go into the podcast format, attract celebrities to talk about problems in reality projects to master and tame the new and popular format of the living word. In part, this leads the presenters of the show to the fact that they turn to the basics and principles of journalism, and it leads to the fact that the new format will be difficult to advance in the global media space. All this must be taken into account, described and investigated in a complex, which is also one of the tasks of this theoretical article in terms of its goals.


2. Justification of the main areas of research: general formulation of the problems

The range of modern media texts and related discourses includes traditional journalistic texts, advertising, PR, new media, the blogosphere, stories in the social media what that become more complex in structure, goals, functions, formats (Odnoklassniki, Facebook, Instagram, Clubhouse) and YouTube, TicTok. The main tendencies of this range of media texts development demonstrate of tending to further change the status, structure, functions of the culture of speech and reading in the media communications. Writing has ceased to be the leading, determining factor, but the speech sphere, the culture of visuality and audiality has become more active: media text “consists not only of verbal fabric, but is sequentially unfolded at several levels: verbal, video and sound, forming a single whole and acquiring features of volumetric and multi-layered” [6, p. 47].

In recent years, audiality has been more and more actively manifested in a media text. In electronic and new media, sounding speech, music, often accompanied by natural, artificial sounds, noises, is already the norm. Audiality fills the media text, diverting attention from what is written and attracting it to what is said, spoken aloud, designed, oriented for a quick and emotional reaction. This is typical not only for the usual live interviews, reports from the scene, live broadcasts, media text indicating “you can also listen to this news,” podcasts. In this case, audiality is a natural informational, ideological and esthetic component of a media text.

However, modern media texts of various genres are increasingly using the capabilities of the living word, i.e., which came from the outside world and, as it were, unprocessed, manifesting with all its primordial strength. This is clearly seen in various talk shows. Talk show characters can be roughly divided into three groups. Firstly, these are talk show host with their inherent professional diction and the ability to build an image, set the atmosphere, create, change, and promote the necessary meanings and ideas. Secondly, these are famous media faces of politicians, businessmen, showmen, public intellectuals, experts in various fields of knowledge. They competently use gestures, facial expressions, vocabulary, and voice, sound to form the informational, social, ideological, esthetic integrity of their image and media text as a whole. Thirdly, these are talk-show participants, who are most common, ordinary people from the crowd or actors who diligently portray them. They speak their native sociolect, in theory Barthes [11], or diligently imitate the speech behavior of a modern ordinary person. In this regard, the genres of the reality world also play a leading role, declaring their principled focus on living lifeand living word.

In advertising, there is also simultaneously important professionally used music, expertly skillfully voice pronouncing advertising slogans; imitation of the living sound and noise, conversational elements of a modern metropolis, less often provinces, rural life. News media text, no less than analytical, journalistic genres is saturated with the element of the living word. Many new media focused on the verbal culture of presentation of material have recently begun to actively use formats in which the sounding living word occupies a leading position [12].

Audiality culture in the mass media is used for several purposes. First, the traditional journalistic purpose of recreating, conveying the natural environment, focusing on fact, event, unchanging striving for documentary, authenticity. Secondly, the creation of various kinds of emotional impact with the help of esthetic, ethical collisions, effects, affects, and plays of language. Thirdly, to show in a more voluminous, multidirectional, large-scale presentation of the polyphony of the modern world. Fourth, to form an audiality (sound) picture of the world in the mass media and to consolidate certain value meanings and ideas in the audience using a given spectrum of feelings, emotions and methods, models of their expression in voice. Mass media introduces fashion and strengthens the right to develop speech, voice, sound, and noise models of human behavior, society and everyday life.

The living life, living wordand audiality, in general, are in an ambiguous relationship with the analytical-rational, intellectual language spoken by traditional journalism and which its audience sought to imitate. Modern journalism, primarily of high quality, good, tries to comprehensively but correctly combine analytics and emotions, speak with its audience in a language close to it, and at the same time create a new media language for new cultural circumstances. This must be taken into account by practitioners and theorists of journalism and media communications. Moreover, attention to the emotional turn is one of the general and key trends in the development of modern humanities [13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. Since October 2019 and throughout 2020–2021, Amsterdam University College “serves as a venue for a series of academic and public events focused on an amazing and highly sensitive dimension of human existence: the realm of emotions, affects and feelings” [19].

In recent years, attempts have been made to systematically investigate the mass media from a similar angle of view aimed at an emotional turn. For example, Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin in the article Considering the emotional turn in journalism studies: Towards new research agendassuggest to apply “…an increasingly nuanced investigation of the role of emotion in the production, texts and audience engagement with journalism” [20]. The mass media are understood as “generators of affect” (Reckwitz), as institutions that establish “rules of feelings” (Hochschild), form, control “affective flows” (Wetherell) [16]. However, develop the basics and tasks of the living word, audiality in media communications is still at the margins of research interests. There are separate articles on interjections in the media, about the ways of expressing emotions in reality TV [14, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30]. In 2018, Affective Societies Collaborative Research Center was created in Freie Universität Berlin. There are two special projects [31, 32].

Nevertheless, systemic studies of the issues of the living word, living lifeand the ways of their manifestation, consolidation, implementation in the media text, media space are virtually absent. This leads not only to the need to study audiality in the media text, but leads to the problem of changing the status of reality, subject, understanding, interconnected with the emotional turn, which is important for journalism and media communications in general, especially given the growth of non-verbal components in the media text. Until recently, the solution to these problems in the media text was achieved mainly through the traditional information and communication capabilities of the mass media, language, images, ethics, esthetics of writing and visuality. Visual culture and the physicality predetermined by it, with which media texts have been maximally saturated for the last half-century, have influenced the perception, self-perception, understanding and self-understanding of the subject. Researchers have long been talking about this. In this way, the mass media are trying to solve their classic problem: to get as close as possible to and master the reality, which they must impartially see, fix, documentary reflect, analytically, responsibly comment, and explain. At this moment, they are inevitably trapped by the reality trap, which they try to overcome, level or use. Podoroga noted: “This is what surprises us: not disappearance and erasure, but the growing multiplication of images of the real, increasingly reinforcing the blockade of reality. The growth of the real is especially noticeable against the background of the birth of a new sensualitythat eliminates pain, is capable of prosthetics of the entire spectrum of everyday sensations, which does not replenishing a shortageof reality, but reconciles with an excess of real” (italic of author—E.Sh.) [33, p. 310]. Reality, real, subject correlate primarily with tangible, visible, reliable and their various images, substitutes, prostheses, simulacra. This is also used by the mass media.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, to the problem of mastering reality through visuality, the problem of audiality and the ways, goals, possibilities, tasks of its presence in the media text were added. Audiality, living worddiscover new aspects of new sensibility, a shortageof reality, an excessof real, the confusionof the subject, and the importance of changing the rules, the principle of understanding. About it already reasoned philosophers, publicists, the writers of the mid-twentieth century. For example, Pierre Gamarra, a French poet, novelist and literary critic, described the meanings of the living meetings as follows: “Here, in Sofia, the writers of thirty countries met. They saw each other’s faces, listened to the sounds of someone else’s speech. I am far from minimizing the importance of paper and text. And yet we did not know each other’s eyes and voices. Similarly, we must read the book about any people, to see this people with his eyes, hear his voice, present him alive” [34, p. 250]. It is noteworthy professor of English literature, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet from the United States Scott Momaday, similarly to Gamarra, focuses on voice, audiality: what the nations with a languages having strong oral traditions have especially developed memory, the ability to listen attentively, to maximally load the word with meanings, there is an inherently specific linguistic plastic [35, p. 242].

It is clear that writers and publicists were aware almost half a century ago of changes in trend, lifestyle of human behavior, society, and sought to consider and analyze them by an accessible means—the written word. Transformation of the writing should occur so that the word written as much as possible approximation to living life, living word. This makes it possible to solve the problems of reliability, objectivity, responsibility before society and achieve social and moral goals, which must invariably be in a high-quality, good journalistic text, publishing house. Today it is obvious that modern culture, the mass media process is increasingly focused on oral speech, living wordand audiality. In this regard, the study of the living wordand audiality in the modern media process is relevant. This all leads to the need to justify and characterize the theory of the methodology for the study of the living word and audiality in media text.


3. Rationale for key methods and approaches: the theoretical aspect of the problem

In the twenty-first century researchers and practitioners of media communications when talking about the problems of reality, reliability, objectivity, ways of displaying them are increasingly turning to ideas, the possibilities of an emotional turn, which manifests itself in texts not only through writing, visuality, but also through a living word, audiality. It is they who initially, by virtue of their nature and tasks, are able to clearly, figuratively, quickly express not only clearly formulated meanings, ideas, feelings, but also the smallest shades of the spectrum of various emotional states such as joy, pain, righteous anger, indignation, glee, contempt. Modern media text is not only saturated with the traditional, professionally staged voices of journalists, host with their distinctive vocabulary, rhetoric and timbre, melodic and rhythm. To solve traditional tasks and functions, media text actively and purposefully uses as if natural, spontaneous sound-noise and voice element of live life.

These can be interjections used as “vocal gestures” (Ameka [21]); or “affective signs” (Hougaard [29]); or “the flotsam and jetsam of mere performance” (Dingemanse [30]). As a result, the time for perceiving information is minimized and its comprehension is transformed predominantly into a feeling, an effect that is it would seem, almost accessible to analytical perception, comprehension. For example, interjections in media texts are no longer a characteristic and feature of oral communication. The tendency to anchor the written of word and the audiality is important for the contemporary verbal media text. So, many culinary bloggers, host reality shows, strive to capture, fix and convey in the announcements of programs, the atmosphere of audiality with the help of interjections, emoticons.

Sunny Anderson, for example, uses interjections to create a certain emotional mood in his written texts—announcements of cooking show, to activate emotions and their fixation in writing, amplification with emoticons and in cases when advertising products [36]. Similar communicative strategies are characteristic of another “star” chef—Geoffrey Zakarian [37]. This is quite revealing from several points of view: the format of the media text’s existence; the role of the emotional element in it; re-educating the audience, reorienting it from visual to auditory perception; the attempt to develop new ethical, ideological and esthetic canons for speech and voice. Subscribers have also praised the new format of the media text, which uses a live voice.

Many professional media chefs have set up their own audio rooms and run live shows, which are essentially similar to live radio broadcasts. For the past year, there has been a trend which can be conventionally called “go to sound”, “transitioning to in sound” or “tame the clear sound”. For example, Giada De Laurentiis [38]. Thus, from the excessive reality of the photo showmen, bloggers move towards sound, voice. Paradoxical as it may seem, but it is the ephemeral, heightened sensitivity to the nuances of emotions that make living wordsand voice the determining factors in the struggle for reality, reliability, and authenticity.

The audiality culture of the era of an emotional turn makes the opinion leaders of the world mass media space to promote into its center not the face, but the voice. Making the voice recognizably means using both the power and possibilities of vocabulary, stylistics, speech patterns, the sound and melody of sound images, and a set of themes and problems that would lay down on the individual and unique sound of the host’s or journalist’s intonation. To a certain extent, this also means a return, a revival of the traditional foundations of journalism, which were oriented towards the individual. Now, however, the voice of the host, the journalist, must be more linked and associated simultaneously with his image, personality and the spectrum of problems, topics and discourses he presents in the media space. On the other hand, the audience, too, must develop a special sensitivity in their hearing to understand what is being said and how it is being said. This is one of the essential requirements of the era of a new sensibility, a new dimension of corporeality, which is already taken into account by the mass media.

In connection with such trends in the mass media process, the focus is on promoting, looking for ways, language, conventionally speaking, more subtle, ephemeral phenomena than in the written and video media text. These are, for instance, nuances of feelings, smells, the culture of their perception and presentation. The same phenomena in media text include voice, sound, noise and the ways of their realization, including playing with melody, sound images, exclamations and interjections. Andreeva, working on voice, vocal gestures and interjections, has put them into a new context and methodology: “Rhetorical phonetics <…> therefore, the timbre coloration of speech at the super-segmental level acquires special significance for research <…>” [39].

These seeminglyephemeral but very powerful manifestations of the living wordinevitably reveal new aspects of the problems of reality, the subject, authenticity, objectivity, document, fact, perception, understanding, and communication. These notions cover a spectrum of extremely difficult to articulate issues of correlation between the living liveand the media text. However, they are important for the creation and successful, effective perception, existence of a modern media text, the media process as a whole.

The following aspect related to methodologies of research on audiality in media texts needs to be emphasized. The media of the turn of our century, assuming the role of “generators of affect” (Reckwitz), actively mastered and implemented the paradoxes of the visual discourse, when, according to Mersch: “The term «representation» never only refers to the modalities of representation, but always at the same time to their exhibition, showing, performing or execution. In other words, representations perform what they represent” (italics by the author—E.Sh.) [40, p. 2]. Media text more and more consistently mastered the language, semantics, rhetoric, the poetics of visuality as an opportunity for the implementation of traditional journalistic, advertising, PR functions, as well as manipulation and propaganda. Media text has made the visuality an integral part of the struggle for reality, subject and understanding. However, this has quite quickly led simultaneously to a sense of increasing simulacra of reality, play, artificiality in the recreation of images of reality and inevitably to a loss of connection with living life.

This problem is relevant to contemporary culture and mass media. Derrida this is how he formulated the essence of this paradox: “In phenomenological interiority, hearing oneself and seeing oneself are two radically different orders of self-relation” [41, p. 76]. In a media text, this kind of relationship is most evident. They are tangible for both the author and the audience. Visual, including through written text, writing, and perception of information implies a distance of writing, reading, photo, gradual rational comprehension, “further props”, as Derrida defines it. Through visuality, the distance of analysis, fact, and analytics is established in the media text. The voice, on the contrary, removes any “further props”, returning, cultivating in the subject confidence in what only he himself can hear in the overflow of intonations, melody, sounds, timbre. Voice initially and irresistibly contains, suggests, gives instant perception and ““alive” words”. They initially and invariably presuppose a special, almost immaterial “expressive activity” and meanings that “not to fall outside me, at a visible distance” [41, p. 76]. The living word, audiality in media texts implies an orientation not only on analysis, but first and foremost on feeling and interpreting what is heard, on taking into account the meaningful, meaning-rich, nuanced intangible expressive activity.

Modern society is increasingly dependent the “power of the voice”, which is based and manifests itself, according to Derrida, through the unity of meaning and intuition, anchored and supported by sounding, sound, noise. This has again activated before the society and, hence, before media communications a system of questions associated with ideology, axiology and phenomenology of perception, world representation in media text, on the one hand. On the other hand, this makes rethink the methodology of research in media text. In 2004 Latour wrote an article How to Talk About the Body? The Normative Dimension of Science Studies. Latour, giving an answer to this question, built his reasoning on the culture of the nose, i.e., the culture of smell having: “<…> richly differentiated odoriferous world. <…> Acquiring a body is thus a progressive enterprise that produces at once a sensory medium and a sensitive world” [42, p. 207]. Mass media, for objective reasons, cannot engage in the process of generating, manifesting the effects and affects significant to the culture of smell. But, the mass media are actively involved in the process of assimilating a new sensibility and the effects of the emotional turn. This is done through a capacity for audiality that allows the media to detect and present a world of multiple nuances and grounds for reasoning in it. In large part, because of this, there is a growth of the spoken word and the living wordin the media.

As noted above, the living wordis not just a problem predetermined by or limited to questions of style, rhetoric, use of new, trendy, topical words. It is a problem of listening culture. During the twentieth century, the problem of the living word was topical several times for the humanities that were faced with rapid changes in the role, position and functions of writing, gesture, sound, voice (Sievers, Zelinsky, Shpet, Bernstein, formalists, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard, de Man). For example, de Man one of the first takes as an example the texts of TV shows and TV serials popular in the 70s (All in the Family) [43]. de Man describes in detail the syntactic, lexical aspects of the construction of the dialog of the characters of the series, and focuses on the sign, the form, and the dramaturgy of the characters conversations. The voice, the sound-noise element in media texts have a special, fundamentally inaccessible to sight, to traditional reading, but no less powerful and meaningful language, rhetoric. de Man mentions this in passing, but does not offer a methodology for analysis or interpretation, considering them additional, embedded in the artistic beginning and the visuality of the television series. This localizes his vision of the media text and limits it to the culture of signs and writing. However, the problem of analysis has been outlined.

In 2015 a collection of articles The Living Word: Logos—Voice—Movement—Gesture. It highlights: “The central question that united the participants was posed as follows: what exactly makes a word and movement alive, what turns a frozen word fixed on paper into an emotional act <…>?” (Italics by the authors—E.Sh.) [44, p. 6]. There were several answers. One of them is the thesis, common and important to all authors: the living wordis necessarily and sensitively oriented towards voice, sound, rhythm, noise, which are indispensable conditions for it to occur as a communicative phenomenon. The methodology of analysis has not been proposed.

The origins of methodology should be sought in Derrida’s ideas. Voice, according to Derrida, is significant in that “<…> a medium which both preserves the presence of the object before intuitionand self-presence, the absolute proximity of the acts to themselves. The ideality of the object, which is only its being-for a nonempirical consciousness, can only be expressed in an element whose phenomenality does not have worldly form. The name of this element is the voice. The voice is heard. Phonic signs (“acoustical images“ in Saussure’s sense, or the phenomenological voice) are heard [entendus = “heard“ plus “understood“] by the subject who proffers them in the absolute proximity of their present” (italics by—E. Sh.) [41, p. 76].

For creating and understanding the essence of the contemporary media text, these ideas of French post-structuralism are directly relevant and practical. The voice in media text is simultaneously a sound image, the basis for rational perception of the meanings that the voice articulates or utters; a seeking/rejection of emotional and intimate intimacy with this voice, with the meanings and ideas it carries with it, an orientation, a dependence on intuition, without which dialog is impossible in the system of audiality. In media text, the voice directly, without the mediation of writing, reading, signs address the feelings and emotions of the person or corporeality. In this sense, the voice in media text is in many ways similar and fulfills the same function as the nose in smell culture. The journalist activates extremely subjective channels, ways and possibilities for communicating with the audience. Voice in a media text is also the most effective means of penetrating into the personal and intimate space of the person as a perceiving subject. The process of conveying information and, more importantly, the meanings and ideas produced through it, through media text is oriented simultaneously towards rational-analytical and emotional, affective perception.

Voice in media text is also a specific break in equivalent communication between journalist and audience. The listener cannot shed light on, clarify the meaning of what has been heard, what has been performed. The word and its sound performance, implementation can generate a lot of shades of meaning, which the listener can only grasp and remain alone with his impression, his emotions, even after a serious analytical program. The listener often does not have the opportunity to respond with a public voice message to the journalist, to the editorial office. The listener can only express his reaction to the media text with a comment, post, smiley face or emoticon on the websites of publications and social networks. The exception is radio and blogs, stories in which a culture of the public-sounding voice of the ordinary person, of the various social starts of media text audiences, is beginning to take shape. So far, the publicly significant voice, the sound images, the element of audiality is the privilege of professional media texts and is curated by journalists, host, showmen, and publishing.

According to Derrida, because of the increased role of the subject, intuition in the creation and realization of meanings, it is important to look at the phenomenon of voice and audiality from the position of phenomenology: “It is implied in the very structure of speech that the speaker hears himself…” (italics by the author—E.Sh.) [41, p. 78]. This is a very important idea for various media text genres and formats that are designed for the live word, audiality, and must be taken into account by both media communication theorists and practitioners. Otherwise, the media text will not be able to achieve its leading goals: to establish a dialog with the audience, to correctly inform them about current events, facts and situations, to place semantic and ideological accents in a professional, ethical manner and to be perceived by the audience.

The power of the voice in today’s media text is still largely the traditional strong control, management of those who create media products and replicate them. If a media text based on the culture of writing and visuality is a sign, can be subjected to a scrupulous, consistent analysis, then the auditory component can only be interpreted. This is the basis and trap of the power of the voice in the face of an emotional turn. The voice and the living wordtake on the functions of control, soft power, and the promotion of hidden ideological meanings. This complicates the tasks for both practitioners and theorists of media communications, who are accustomed to working with tangible, visible sequences of speech acts and signs.

In addition to the structural-semiotic, phenomenological approaches, which in one way or another have dealt with the problems of audiality in the text, the media text should be considered in terms of the methods and principles of media linguistics. This is a new sphere of knowledge in the humanities. Its main subjects are the media text and the media discourse [45]. It is clear that audiality is an indispensable component of a media text as a semantic, informational, communicative, esthetic integrity, due to the specifics of its media character. According to Duskayeva, media linguistics “… have required researchers to consider, first, those shades of meaning and additions to the linguistic tools that arise when the text (in the traditional sense) is transferred into the media sphere, and second, to take into account that means of meaning transmission in the media are of a different semiotic nature” [46, p. 12]. All this defines the main characteristics of “media thinking” (Duskayeva) [47, 48, 49].


4. Paradoxes of the living wordand audiality in media texts

Derrida, reflecting on the phenomenological nature of sound, of listening, of the essence of the voice done conclusion: “My words are “alive“ because they seem not to leave me: <…> not to cease to belong to me, to be at my disposition “without further props“. In any event, the phenomenon of speech, the phenomenological voice, gives itselfout in this manner” (italics of the author—E. Sh.) [41, p. 76]. But this situation in media text, media speech is not fully possible: journalist, presenter, interviewers speak on camera and for the public space, existence. As a consequence, different kinds of “further props” of media inevitably emerge. They range from simple recording of conversations on camera; from voice-over to deliberate playing with the voice and manipulation, for emphasis of meaning and esthetic effect. In this sense, the voice in a media text is alienated from the person in the same way as its image: through the distance of hearing, the possibility of hearing oneself from the outside. It happens even when a journalist, announcer, host show or interviewees uses their voices in a way that is natural to them. It may be the professionally choreographed speech of the reporter, the power of the announcer’s tone, the shimmering timbre of the showman, the spontaneous response of a passer-by to a journalist’s question. But it is always the voice that makes the words in a media text come alive: the voice cannot be completely alienated from the person.

In media text, all of its characters, just as in everyday life, cannot step out of their voices without a trace, even when they are speaking someone else’s text, are in the image. Media text that uses voice is always subjective and filled with the element of living words. As Derrida notes: “In writing, one is forced to use all the words according to their conventional meaning. But in speaking, one varies the meanings by varying one’s tone of voice, determining them as one pleases. Being less constrained to clarity, one can be more forceful. And it is not possible for a language that is written to retain its vitality as long as one that is only spoken” [50, p. 315]. This is one of the fundamental paradoxes of the living word, of audiality in media text, which is simultaneously conditioned by the individual nature of the sound of the human voice and by the possibilities, ways of manifesting and using this property of mass media. As a result, requirements change not only for journalists working with voices and the elements of living words, but also for the audience, whose hearsay must be trained to hear and understand the range of meanings embedded in media texts. This kind of media text is more difficult to perceive, to analyze: it constantly eludes the certainty that is created by writing and even by photo-, video images, but tends towards a particular expressiveness, close to emotions, affects.

The media text initially has a system of its special strong “further supports” for the voice. It can be defined as follows.

Foremost, these are the traditional for journalism in general, professionally choreographed and trained voices, the speech of announcers, hosts and journalists. The living word, the voice is here as much as possible alienated by the media from the journalist, the host. In traditional journalism, just as in acting, the voice is simultaneously a unique feature of a specific person and part of his professional image and work. The voice is contiguous with writing and the visual in the sense that it is created, exists in a conditional media space and is designed to be listened to and heard solely from the outside—even by those to whom it belongs. The voice in traditional journalism has to be read like a letter. The live word, the auditory nature is initially subordinated to the genre, the style and the objectives of the media text. The element of the voice is almost devoid of naturalness and is inscribed in the concept and objectives of the media text.

For example, Oksana Onishchenko, a journalist for the Ukrainian publication Дзеркало тижня, presented a piece on an urgent social topic: the criteria for the quality of education of schoolchildren during a pandemic, lockdown [12]. If the journalist had written the text, the reader would have learned about the incompetence, unprofessionalism and unwillingness of the team of Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science Serhiy Shkarlet to understand the issue, that officials have shown themselves to be illiterate, non-specialists and falsifiers of data. But this text is spoken by a journalist. The modulations, the timbre of the voice, the rhythm of the phrases, words and sounds uttered initially contain irony and sarcasm, constantly emphasizes the general, well-known incompetence and inability to work professionally by the team of the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine. The evidence bases, facts, analytics, stylistics, general composition of the text are serious, verified. If it were a written text, it would be perceived as a system of questions for an in-depth conversation with officials from the Ministry of Education and Science. But, the words, phrases and sentences, despite their business style, are not spoken in a neutral tone. The voice changes the meanings of words, as characterized by Derrida. Voice invalidated even the hope for effective communication between media and public officials. The voice of the journalist redirects the problem to the public. The intonation of the journalist reveals to the audience from the first seconds the depth and scale of the social problem. The voice and the text create for the audience a complex unity of informational, social and esthetic tension. As a result, the media text is ideological, conceptual and civic-moral rich. The meeting of text and voice creates a media text that needs to be heard, analyzed and interpreted at the same time.

In addition to the traditional journalistic “further supports” for the voice and the element of the living word, there may be more complex possibilities in media text, ways of their existence. These are, first and foremost, conditioned by the requirements of the channel, format, genre, and the inclusion in the media text of voices that seem to come from the stream of living life. It is traditional journalistic genres reportage, news, interviews. The voices, the element of the spoken word, the sound noises of the modern street, which are incorporated into the media text, are here, as in any journalistic text, intended to be documentary, authentic, objective and as close to reality as possible. These voices, living wordshave the effect of not only touching reality, but also modeling it.

A media text in which the professional voice of a journalist, an announcer, a host and the natural, unprocessed voices of living life meet and combine is a complex semantic and social-informational, communicative, social-ethical, esthetic unity. The strength of its expressiveness, persuasiveness, and reliability depends on the professional ability of a journalist, sound engineer, and editor to combine heterogeneous principles that represent different voices. And we are not talking about manipulation of words, opinions of interviewers, of random people who unexpectedly found them at the scene. It’s not about simple journalistic tact, skill in presenting events from the scene, or the art of conversation. The problem is different. In the ability to embed expressiveness, emotional tension, affects of someone else’s natural voice, speech into the media text in such a way as not to remain only within the generally understandable meaning of words and to take into account the intonation-conceptual transformations of the sounding speech as accurately as possible. This is the aspect of voice that Derrida characterized as the right to lose of the clarity predetermined by writing. The element of a living word, subject to sensitivity to it, will make it possible to manifest the true meanings of the media text. Otherwise, even a direct report from the scene of an event or a serious interview with a politician, for example, can turn into a farce, a direct quote, but with a misinterpreted meaning. How the words reproduced verbatim in writing and what they sound like may not be the same. A voice can drastically change the concept of what a person is speaking. This perspective on the existence of the living wordoften puts the journalist presenter in a bind, forcing him to react to the tone, timbre, emotional coloring of the sound of the word, rather than its lexical meaning. It is, on the one hand.

There is another side to this problem. It is not initially conditioned by the level of professionalism of the journalist, host and editor, but by the new formats for the existence of a media text. Common media phenomenon in new media is the combination of verbal, visual and audiality components within the boundaries of a single media text, with their verbatim transcription, essentially duplication by means of the written text. There is also the option of a media text with a complex structure, in which several heterogeneous and equal beginnings are present at the same time. The verbal part of the text duplicates what is said in the video. However, the voices, the spoken speech, the soundtrack, so important for informational, political, ideological, social-ethical, esthetic meanings, are not included in the verbal part of the text.

It is clear that a voice, a living wordcannot be adequately translated into a written text. This is important to consider even if all the lexical, syntactic, stylistic features of the spoken text are carefully copied into the written text. In this case, the meanings conveyed by the writing and the spoken text may support, complement, distort or destroy each other’s meanings, but they will not coincide. The part of the media text voiced by the journalist can still be professionally, taking into account the entire semantic, ideological, value register of word meanings and stylistics, transformed into a written text. But for the part of the media text that comes from ordinary people, noise, voices of spontaneous situations, such a decision is impossible and unacceptable. Preparing the media text for the issue, the journalist in the written part makes notes in parentheses to convey the communicative situation, the atmosphere, the emotions that are in the sound-noise element, the voice: a person laughs, cries, whistles, shouts, etc. However, the natural sound-noise environments of a town, village or nature, as well as specially selected background music are not part of the written version of the media text in any way. The whole sound environment is unmarked within a single media text, it is as if numb, disappears. From the completeness of this sound environment, only brief notations remain, denoting in the most general way the main feelings of the interviewer. These are media “further props” for the living word. But the power, the authority of the voice, the element of the living words, the fullness of the personality, will not be replaced by this kind of reception. Consequently, the meanings that the voice has expressed through the music and that the audience needs to hear will be distorted, lost. The voice, the noise, the music will be subordinated to the writing, to the sign, and so will push again to play with reality, to level the nuances of meaning, of emotion. Such subordination can tempt the desire to manipulate of meanings, idea, to convey the meaning of words too literally, without taking into account their incidental sensual tone (Ch. Bally), which exists and is felt in the voice, noise, sounds. The single media text will be heterogeneous in structure, concepts, meanings and ideas. This kind of media text is based on both the culture of writing and the culture of the spoken word and voice. The realization of the meanings and ideas embedded in such a media text depends on which part of it the audience chooses: whether it will limit itself to reading or whether it will want to see and hear the text.

Consequently, information in a seemingly unified media text turns out not to be equal to itself: it depends on the choice, the preferences of the audience, and the mood of the individual at now. For modern journalism, which works with various types of communication channels and faces the need to quickly combine heterogeneous types of words, speech and communicative situations in unified media text, supplementary qualities, skills and ways of constructing a media text are important. In order to ensure that media “further props” do not become an aspiration for manipulation, a correction of reality, it is necessary to take into account Derrida’s idea: “Thus writing is always atonal. The place of the subject is there taken by another, it is concealed. The spoken sentence, which is valuable only once and remains “proper only to the place where it is, “loses its place and its proper meaning as soon as it is written down” [50, p. 315].

The situation changes somewhat in the format of live radio conversations, when the voices of typical people from the big outside world, entering virtually unprocessed, fill the media text and create a media event. Although, the voice from living lifecan also be alienated from its hosts and recorded, producing already “dead words”. The reclaiming and asserting of the voice of the audience in media text takes place in the newest formats and genres. Clubhouse, YouTube, TicTok, when people in media space want to hear each other and sounds, the fullness and naturalness or asif naturalness of the element of audiality.

However, there is another aspect to the paradox of audiality in media text. Its essence stems from the fact that language, speech, voice, sound, noise is in a media text always and inevitably a displayed and depicted language, speech, voice, sound, noise. Moreover, the voice, the element of living wordsin a media text is always and irreducibly complicated by the nature, tasks and functions of media communication. Consequently, the following must be recognized and taken into account, audiality, orality, the living wordin the media text, has an inherently and invariably paradoxical nature that practitioners and theorists of journalism and the media must take into account.


5. Conclusions and perspectives

In contemporary media space is the complex, voluminous media text that is the centre of value and meaning that attracts and holds the audience’s attention and that determines the main trends in the development of the media process. Media text is constantly becoming increasingly complex in nature, structure and genre range. At the same time, on the one hand, media texts remain oriented towards a culture of writing and visuals. The verbal and visual languages and images form the informational, ideological, ethical and esthetic meanings of the media text. Audiences have become accustomed to the verbal and visual language of media texts, and have learned to read and understand it. On the other hand, in media space, the role of sound and noise, voice, and spoken language are increasing. This is largely due to the activation of meanings, images, cultural and social language generated by the emotional turn.

It is important for a modern person to hear another individual, the world, to understand, perceive in their integrity. These moods have their origins in the 60–70s twentieth century. Media texts of various formats and genres have also become actively involved in this process, and have consequently become more oriented towards audiality culture and the element of the living word. The television and radio began to actively produce media texts, which used audiality, focused on the sounding word. Since the 90s the twentieth century, the Internet has strengthened and diversified the capabilities of the sound-noise environment in media texts of various formats and genres, including podcasts, which began to be used in even reality shows. Audiality began to claim in the media text the role of an objective, reliable reflection of the reality of the world, as visuality claimed on this in the twentieth century.

There may be a misconception that media texts are as close as possible and reflect living life, and do not create media reality. This impression, based on the increased role of the voice, sounding speech in the media text, is one of the most significant paradoxes of modern media communications. Its essence can be formulated as follows. After the heyday of visual images and language in the media text, the time has come for voice and audiality culture. The visual beginning in the media text, which insisted, seduced, as it were, with the maximum approximation to reality, with a reliable, objective, documentary reflection of the surrounding world, did not cope with its task. Catching and displaying the completeness of reality in the media text has now passed to living wordand audiality. Although, it must be emphasized that compared to visual images in voices and sound images, as well as language have greater capacity and means to incorporate and manifest the phenomena of living lifein media text.

Nevertheless, the theory of journalism, media communications has not yet developed techniques, methods of working with new growing phenomena of sounding speech, voice in media texts. The theory of journalism and of mass communication still does not have systems for analyzing, interpreting, “certification” of audiality and living wordin the media test. In this regard, the approaches developed by semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism does not always work due to the fact that they are focused on the culture of writing and sign. The exception is the ideas of Derrida about the phenomenon, authority and power of the voice. This is especially important also from the position of media linguistics, which cannot but work, in addition to “ordinary” words, texts, also with the moments of visual, audiality, which create the integrity of the media text. So far, one of the effort problems of media linguistics is the development of methods and approaches to the study of audiality and the living wordin media texts.

Audiality—from the intonation pattern, sound’s modulation of the image in various types of media texts to its musical accompaniment—is an important part of media text. It contains a significant emotional, expressive, ideological, semantic and esthetic load of words, expressions and sentences, which contributes to the formation of the background and memory of a native speaker and the recipient’s attitude to the meaning of the media text. Audibility in the language of a media text creates and maintains that strong collateral sensual tone of the word, of which Bally wrote, and which determines and is determined by mass media tasks, goals and functions. Therefore, exclude the audibility, as well as the visual, from the language, imagery and concept of the media text is to focus solely on writing, which is wrong.

In this regard, a system of issues that are important from the point of view of the theory of media text is indicated. First of all, it is necessary to define and characterize what it means to grasp, to present in the media text the unity of language, speech, visual, sound and noise elements and media. Obviously, this cannot be done without answering the question: what is the role of integrity writing—sign—gesture—voice in this process. Then it is necessary to clarify how the tasks of a journalist and a creative group are changing, when preparation is in progress creating a media text that is complex in nature and structure. Another group of issues is associated with the problems of professional training of journalists, specialists in media communications. It is important to determine what and in what direction should change in the education specialists of mass media, who should be guided not only by the culture of the written text.

The theory of journalism, mass communication, and media linguistics is only just approaching this range of problems. The study of media text and media speech from the position of audiality is the research not only of the sound-noise sphere, of the sound, the voice and the element of living words, but also the development approaches, methods are allowing to describe it in the media text. Hence, not only traditional journalistic, sociological and linguistic methods and approaches, and those that work with the visual, but also those aimed at the spoken word and the voice actualized by the specificity of the mass media, must be taken into account. For this purpose, it is necessary to draw on developments in the theory of the living wordand audiality culture. This constitutes a range of future challenges.


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Written By

Shestakova Eleonora

Submitted: December 20th, 2021 Reviewed: February 18th, 2022 Published: April 13th, 2022