Sunday, November 16, 2008

The New York Times Goes SemiObama

One of the arguments SemiObama has made over the past several months is that images of Obama have become commodified. In Sunday's New York Times, that arguments gets literalized in interesting ways.

America's newspaper of record is offering up for sale, various items with Obama's visage. We're not just talking about copies of the paper from November 5, but non-journalistic things like photos and coffee mugs. To be sure, this raises some fascinating questions about the relationship between what is news and what is capitalism.

Many media critics have noted the degree to which advertisements and the primary texts are increasingly indistinguishable from each other. For example, commercials and ads not only mirror content, they often determine it.

In the case of The New York Times peddling Obama swag, a seemingly opposite movement occurs--news becomes product. One wonders how "objective" the Times is with this commercialization of its product. Can the reporters of news become purveyors that news? Can they profit from their own stories?

It's hard to say, exactly, but we're going to keep watching this fascinating turn of events, and we ask readers to write in with their own observations.

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