Media Times| When is the Now? Monitoring Disaster in the Expansion of Time

Anders Ekström


This essay inquires into the temporalities that emerge in the context of online news of extreme nature events. It draws on a larger empirical study of what has become a dominant template for online reports on disasters of a different character, scale, and location: short videos, Web TV clips, and series of stills published in a real-time aesthetic frame. In this article, this case study is used as a background for a more theoretical discussion of three temporal registers in particular: (1) the paces and rhythms of the modes of publication and address that this template supports; (2) the interaction of past, present, and future in online news of disasters; and (3) the sense of extended temporalities that emerge from contemporary reports of nature emergencies and geological extremes. The essay also engages with two recurring themes in media history: first, the relationship between new media technologies and the modern notion of an increasingly pervasive culture of the now; and second, the long-standing role of disasters in the history of exploring new media formats and technologies.


nature emergencies, temporality, online news, history, real time, template, archiveory; real time

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