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It’s Not Always About The Money: Using Narrative Analysis to Explore Newspaper Coverage of the Act of Collecting

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In this article, I use narrative analysis to explore themes in recent news coverage of collecting. I am most interested in how journalists frame collecting as a social activity, and how they have constructed the character of the collector. Given the growing popularity of collecting, one would suspect that journalists would frame it as a universal activity. Those of us who don t collect would be encouraged by this groundswell of activity to jump on the collecting bandwagon. The wisdom of collecting would never be questioned. But has the coverage of collecting by journalists helped support these notions? My research reveals the answer is no. Journalists seem to embark on stories wanting to convey the impression that a collector is eccentric, but end up feeling a newfound respect for the collector s love of the object and its history. The narrative that emerges from these articles takes the form of a collector s life story. Coverage focuses on the collector s passion, interest in the history of an item, and desire to share knowledge about a collectible and its history with others-not the value of a collection. They are the selfappointed guardians of the history found in their items. They reclaim the items, converting them from commodities to coveted collectibles. They are skeptical about the market, and in a sense, work outside it.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Communications Program Drexel University

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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