Isaac Blacksin

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9324

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Blacksin, Isaac Samuel, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Writing Violence: The Discourse and Culture of Journalism in the Middle East,' supervised by Dr. Robert Meister

ISAAC BLACKSIN, then a graduate student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Writing Violence: The Discourse and Culture of Journalism in the Middle East,’ supervised by Dr. Robert Meister. This research with journalists in Iraq and Lebanon revealed a conflict between what can be told as news and what challenges journalistic meaning-making. While journalists’ encounters with violence disturb generic borders between factual and fictive, certain and ambiguous, knowable and unknowable, the permeability of these frontiers is mystified in the news journalists produce. For even as the authority and authenticity of war reportage depends upon journalists’ intimate experiences of violence, the conventional truth of reportage entails the narrative elision of just these experiences. For journalists ‘ our surrogate witnesses to faraway war ‘ the ethics of witnessing can only be in conflict with the discursive constraints of the news. This aporia poses problems for how journalists report war, and it exposes violence as a site of contestation for truth-telling. Observation of journalists at checkpoints, refugee camps, and scenes of conflict, and interviews with journalists covering war in the Middle East, allowed the grantee to track how journalists assimilate violence into knowledge: the negotiations, relationships, and routines of journalistic professionalism, and the fantasies, tropes, and silences of journalistic signification. This ethnographic and narratological approach revealed both the management of violence in the news and other, still conflicted ways of encountering a violent world.