This article argues that investigations of public sphere engagement are most productively pitched as sociohistorical and discursive analyses that move across the levels of production, textuality, and reception. Through a study of the discourse of young adults who express disaffection with television newscasting, I propose that ideologies and projections of generic personhood and genuine communication are key operators in processes of public connection in the U.S. I analyze how these ideologies and preferred readings inform the stances and rationalizations of young people as they talk about television news, and how they are enabled by the semiotics of both new and old newscasting formats. [media, publics, semiotics, language ideology, personhood]
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