I was flipping through the channels in those pre-primetime Sunday evening doledrums when I stumbled across a particularly shameless Food Network self-promotional puff piece, and who was the talking head extolling the network's power and reach but Toby Miller! I will say I'm happy that someone besides Robert Thompson is getting TV studies punditry gigs. And I'm normally not terribly judgmental about what academics do in their off time. But it felt a little weird to see a preeminent scholar lend gravitas to a marketing strategy already built on selling the channel's sociocultural importance. What do others think? Is there anything wrong with such appearances? What practices should scholars follow in punditing for the media, particularly in an age where pseudojournalistic forms and promotional programming change the equation? Is it our role even to ask or judge?
It's funny: film scholars and even humanities-based TV scholars have so rarely been consulted as pundits on any meaningful scale that the ethical issues of punditry seem novel. But given that I myself was quoted in a Philly Inquirer article recently means I should probably start thinking more about these things.
ADDENDUM: Jason Mittell offers his own experiences as TV studies pundit for NPR, reminding us of how soundbites get taken out of context.
For what it's worth, I was well aware that Miller's appearance was highly excerpted and recontextualized. It's the nonjournalistic context that raised my eyebrows - but that could be my fussy, pre-postmodern sensibility. But should I be forgiving of the narrativizing that professional journalism does?
Tade Thompson, ROSEWATER
6 days ago