- Feb 2022
Local file Local file
We also know that theaverage length of TV soundbites has steadily declined over the lastseveral decades (Fehrmann, 2011). During the U.S. presidentialelection in 1968, the average soundbite — that is, any footage of acandidate speaking uninterrupted — was still a little more than 40seconds, but that had fallen to less than 10 seconds at the end of the80s (Hallin 1994) and 7.8 seconds in 2000 (Lichter, 2001). The lastelection has certainly not reversed the trend. Whether that meansthat the media adjust to our decreasing attention span or is causingthe trend is not easy to say.
Ryfe and Kemmelmeier not only show that this development goes much further back into the past and first appeared in newspapers (the quotes of politicians got almost halved between 1892 and 1968), but also posed the question if this can maybe also be seen as a form of increased professionalism of the media as they do not just let politicians talk as they wish (Ryfe and Kemmelmeier 2011). Craig Fehrman also pointed out the irony in the reception of this rather nuanced study – it was itself reduced to a soundbite in the media (Fehrman 2011).
Soundbites have decreased in length over time.
What effects are driving this? What are the knock on effects? What effect does this have on the ability for doubletalk to take hold? Is it easier for doubletalk and additional meanings to attach to soundbites when they're shorter? (It would seem so.) At what point to they hit a minimum?
What is the effect of potential memes which hold additional meaning of driving this soundbite culture?
Example: "Lock her up" as a soundbite with memetic meaning from the Trump 2016 campaign in reference to Hilary Clinton.