Paranoia as a System: The Paranews Network

The Paranews Network is true to its name in every sense of the word – as a parody of professional news stations on tv, as a vessel for paranoia/conspiracy, and a way of drawing parallels between previously unrelated elements. Using the style of a classic newsroom briefing, the Paranews Network delivers current, relevant information on a monthly basis (with the small exception of the fourth installment due to timing restrictions and deadlines) to the viewers using photographic evidence and detailed explanations to help its audience connect with the material regardless of their knowledge base on the subject. The subject itself, that the Paranews Network aims to report on, is the strange and confusing campus of Sarah Lawrence College including whatever bizarre events take place there during this project’s development. And though the show may include traces of sensationalism or conjecture, every story covered is based in fact and observed on campus, in the 2021 Fall semester.

Originally, this project was inspired by a much smaller scale, text based project by the same name that I had started when I’d first transferred to Sarah Lawrence from my old college, Stevenson University. For context, Stevenson is a much more conventionally run college with the classic Taylor-style dorms being prevalent, a very major-focused curriculum, and a campus in a more typical urban environment. When I arrived at Sarah Lawrence for the first time in my Sophomore year, I found many elements of the place quite bizarre from the physical elements of the campus to the unusual methods it employs to run and, to stay connected with my friends from my hometown and to help myself make sense of the strange space surrounding me, I drafted weekly reports back to them in a parody newsroom format. Now, way back then the project was only text-based and didn’t have any fancy editing, effects, or visual elements that the new version does, but the content it was made from was enough to make the project a success. It became so much of a success, in fact, that one of said hometown friends who’s far more artistically talented than I am was kind enough to make the Paranews Network logo that I now feature in each episode. Unfortunately after that first year covid hit and, since I wasn’t present on campus to gather information, the Paranews Network had to stop reporting. But now that I’m back on campus in this new Fall semester, I’d been wondering if/how I was going to bring the Paranews Network back and this class, Paranoia, provided the perfect space to do it.

In an effort to expand the project, making it bigger and better than ever before, this iteration of the Paranews Network will go beyond its text-based origins to the big screen! Each installment of the Paranews Network this semester is a video broadcast covering all the potentially strange occurrences within the past month instead of just covering a week at a time. So far, I’ve consistently released new episodes at the end of every month after gathering information, photographs, and videos during said month about current events. Unfortunately the November/December episodes was an exception to this rule since it wasn’t able to fit with that schedule due to the Thanksgiving and Winter breaks respectively, so those episodes have had their content largely combined. Each was a separate episode, bringing the total Paranews Network season for this Fall semester to a total of four episodes, but the events and information discovered during the month of November were split up among those two last episodes.

Author: Adam Stockman