A sound bite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say, and is used to summarize information and entice the reader or viewer. The term was coined by the U.S. media in the 1970s. Since then, politicians have increasingly employed sound bites to summarize their positions.

Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate. The insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation, leading to conflict over journalistic ethics.

In his book The Sound Bite Society, Jeffrey Scheuer argues that the sound bite was the product of television‘s increased power over all forms of communication, and that the resulting trend toward short, catchy snippets of information had a significant negative impact on American political discourse.[6] In contrast, Peggy Noonan feels that sound bites have acquired a negative connotation but are not inherently negative, and that what we now think of as great historical sound bites—such as “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself“, the most famous phrase in Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s first Inaugural Address—were examples of eloquent speakers unselfconsciously and “simply trying in words to capture the essence of the thought they wished to communicate.”[7]

The increased use of sound bites in news media has been criticized, and has led to discussions on journalistic and media ethics.[8] According to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, journalists should “make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.” [9]

Despite this criticism, sound bites are widely employed by businesses, trade groups, labor unions and politicians. Senator Jim DeMint readily admitted this when he said, “There’s a reason why most politicians talk in sanitized sound bites: Once you get out of that, you’re opening yourself up to get attacked.”

it is easy to protest
when the bombs fall miles from the fridge
yet, we are still afraid
a trip to Disney World on the line
so what hundred children massacred a day
better to have less terrorists, right?

About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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