Pseudo-Events as a Mesocyclone: Rethinking Boorstin’s Concept in the Digital Age

Daniel J. Boorstin’s concept of pseudo-events has been around almost as long as Queen Elizabeth II’s reign as monarch. 2012 was the year of the Diamond Jubilee, a 60-year anniversary, which can be viewed as a giant pseudo-event made from smaller pseudo-events.

Compliant media were ready and willing to present images reinforcing the power, authority, and naturalness of the monarchy. The Diamond Jubilee, as an event and subject of analysis, exemplified the reconceptualization of pseudo-events using the analogy of a Mesocyclone.

The Mesocyclone model of social media and journalism relations, developed in this study, reflects the transformation of relations between media planners, the news media, and the public.

The Mesocyclone represents the challenges faced by media planners in creating, sharing, and encouraging others to participate in the process while attempting to keep the news media and public aligned with the event’s message.

However, the Mesocyclone is unpredictable because social media sharing has enabled the news media and public to craft their own messages, as well as possibly change the meaning of the event.

Boorstin’s concept of pseudo-events has been expanded by also considering Louis Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus in using the Diamond Jubilee’s pro-monarchy theme as an example.