Throughout history, stories have been an essential component of societal customs, and have played an integral role in educating people about important issues that exist in society. In contemporary times, stories are successfully presented through the medium of television, to enhance the storytelling process and further create visual meaning. The segment “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving,” from the Australian television news program A Current Affair, deals with the issue of drink driving and mainly revolves around the penalties of drink driving in New York.
Presented by Mike Munro, and reported by Tara Brown, the segment employs various elements of construction such as language, selection of detail, positioning, structure and filmic codes (symbolic, written, audio and technical) to divulge a biased opinion for harsher penalties towards drink driving. In essence, therefore, segments of a current affair programmes are constructed pieces of factual texts that are presented in the form of a narrative to implicitly manifest a biased opinion on an issue, and further create interest in viewers.
A Current Affair is an early evening television program that focuses on report-centred investigations on a particular issue that is relevant to viewers with family and community values. “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” is a carefully devised segment that endeavours to entertain, and inform viewers about the consequences of drink driving in New York. Presenter Mike Munro introduces the segment in a clever manner by using the proximity technique to relate the issue of drugs in school, in Australia, to the case of zero tolerance towards drink driving in New York.
By doing this, the targeted viewers feel a sense of connection with the presented segment and are able to relate to the zero tolerance approach to alcohol and drugs. Contextually speaking, drink driving is perceived as an imperative contemporary issue because of the number of fatalities associated with it. This perception is given particular importance, by placing “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” as the opening segment, which then seeks to target local Australian viewers.
Broadcasting the show at 6:30 pm is a genuine attempt by the program to target local Australian viewers who have family values, and a national interest. It can be acknowledged, that the context determines the relevance of a segment, and further influences, to some extent, how entertaining the segment is for the viewers. The careful portrayal of setting can convey meaning through interactions with characters and plot, and is contextually linked to the themes and issues being presented.
New York, being one of the most populous metropolises in the United States, with an entrancing night life, is an appropriate location for depicting an issue such as drink driving. The long shot of the setting at the beginning of the segment depicts a long queue of drivers in cars that are waiting to be breath tested by the police, and is further sensationalised by the background thriller music to entertain viewers. Moreover, the purpose of depicting this shot at night is symbolic of danger, which is also commonly associated with drink driving.
The choice of setting is highly important, as it makes the presented segment seem more believable, and additionally bolsters the themes and issues being presented by the story. A current affair programs achieve to create characterisation by depicting the personalities of the individuals involved in the story, in a compelling manner. George Grasso, a deputy police commissioner, is shown to emulate an omnipotent authoritative father figure that is in favour of uncompromising penalties towards drink driving.
His personality and confident attitude towards drink driving is supported by his resolute dialogue, “If you are driving a car in New York City while intoxicated you better be prepared to live without that car. ” Additionally, he is always seen to be interviewed in front of the United States flag, which is symbolic of his nationalistic pride and devotion to the safety of his country, “It’s like taking the illegal gun out of the illegal gunman before he shoots somebody with it. Another important figure, in the “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” segment is Sergeant McVeigh. Coupled with Deputy Commissioner George Grasso, Sergeant McVeigh is symbolic of the heroic policeman who speaks with conviction and desires to save many as many lives as possible. An experienced policeman, he is a “passionate advocate” of the “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” program and believes that “people need to talk about the problem and bring into light. He is mostly depicted in front a police car, in his police uniform, which signifies that he is a hard-working person who is always on the lookout for crime. The stereotypical nature of important people in a current affair programs is achieved through the effect of filmic codes, which further entertains the viewers as they resemble to story-like characters. The selection of detail is employed by a current affair programs to create perceptions of society, coupled with enforcing a biased opinion on a particular issue.
In the segment “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” the people who are shown to be in violation of drink driving laws, through the use of various close-up and midshots, include people from various backgrounds, race and gender orientations. This selection of detail implies that the laws apply to everyone and anyone could be arrested for drink driving. Evidently, selection of detail is an important technique that creates subtle meaning, which subsequently results in entertaining the viewer. In conclusion, a current affair programs play an integral role in providing targeted viewers with a biased opinion on a particular issue.
Through the use of various elements, such as filmic codes, selection of detail, structure and positioning, a current affair programs achieve in presenting issues and themes that have visual meaning. In doing so, a current affair programs become a constructed piece of text that not only inform the viewer about a particular issue but also entertains them, through a biased point of view. In the segment, “Zero Tolerance to Drink Driving” viewers are entertained through the use of narrative conventions in conjunction with media techniques.