Visual Communication 2017 Abstracts

Online Coverage of Brittany Maynard’s Death: Visual and Verbal Information • Kelsie Arnold; Kimberly Lauffer • This study examined textual and visual elements in web-based coverage of Brittany Maynard’s decision to exercise Oregon’s right to die in order to understand how the media framed their coverage using multimedia components. The authors used a qualitative perspective and a quantitative data collection instrument to synthesize data and key themes that emerged from the research. Culturally embedded frames, loaded language, and graphic elements were all deemed essential to telling the story of Brittany Maynard.

Attributes of Likable Organizational Logos: An Exploratory Study using Q Methodology • Angie Chung; Dennis Kinsey • Logos have a big impact on how people feel about an organization. The goal of this research is to identify the subjective perceptions when people evaluate logos and explore what elements affect the likability of organizational logos. This exploratory research used Q Methodology to quantitatively and qualitatively examine subjective preferences for different types of logos. Forty participants sorted 50 organizational logos (Q sample) from “most appealing” (+5) to “most unappealing” (-5). Three different factors emerged from the correlation and factor analysis—the first group expressed the importance of color, the second group thought logos with living creatures were appealing and the third group were attracted to logos suggesting dynamic movement. Findings are discussed in terms of practical implications for how organizations can choose logos that can be received more positively.

A reciprocal-networked model of the photojournalistic icon: From the print-television news era to the present • Nicole Dahmen, University of Oregon; David Perlmutter, Texas Tech University; Natalia Mielczarek, Virginia Tech • Millions of news images have been created, but only a relative few have become the fabled “icons” of photojournalism that have been popularly ascribed with extraordinary powers to mobilize national opinion, start or stop wars, or at least capture “decisive moments” in history. Since most of the photoicon era occurred when news was a wholly industrial (via print and then broadcast and cable) enterprise, media gatekeeping has been a critical component of the process of icon creation, distribution, and maintenance. Traditionally, news photographs became iconic, in large part, through their purposive, industrially defined, and prominent placement on elite newspaper front pages and lead position in broadcast/cable news across the globe. But as we rapidly move away from print news and towards a digital/internet/social news environment, what is the effect on the formation of iconic imagery? We argue that it is both a changed reality of news delivery formats and the democratization of news production and dissemination via social media that predicates a theoretical shift in the formation of iconic imagery. Using the historical research method, we draw from current theoretical tenets of iconic image formation and leading research on iconic imagery to present propositions of a model of iconicity that we term the “reciprocal-networked model of iconicity,” which presents four central and related stages: creation, distribution, acceleration, and formation. We conclude this philosophy of images with some speculative predictions about the development of photoicons within the evolution of our reciprocal-networked model, arguing that several trends are predictable.

Fire, ice or drought? Picturing humanity in climate change imagery • Kim Sheehan; Nicole Dahmen, University of Oregon; David Morris II, University of Oregon • Despite scientific evidence of climate change, Americans continue to minimize its importance. At the same time, research suggests that advocacy campaigns and news media coverage of climate change—both text and images—do not necessarily resonate with audiences. The current study brings together existing theory on the knowledge-deficit model and research findings on both climate change imagery and story personification to explore in a 3x3x2 experiment how photographs relating to climate change have the best potential to connect with people regarding emotion and engagement.

Resignifying Alan Kurdi: News photographs, memes, and the ethics of visual representation • Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Iowa • The Turkish photojournalist Nilufer Demir’s photograph of the drowned refugee child Alan Kurdi attained worldwide recognition as a media spectacle, initially prompting humanitarian responses and political action, but later morphing into online memes and inciting public backlash as “war porn.” I argue here that the ethical motivations of photojournalism and memes are oppositional with regard to their representations of embodied vulnerability. While photojournalistic depictions of vulnerable bodies are motivated by an ethics of care intended to generate empathy and progressive social change, memes disrupt those affective connotations through processes of mimicry and replication. By means of a comparative semiological analysis, this paper examines the way the sign system of Demir’s photograph was mutated into a meme, radically changing the ethical connotations of the former. The differing ethical affordances of news photos versus memes, and their relationship, may help to explain the reversal of the cosmopolitan humanitarianism initially sparked by the Alan Kurdi photograph and tell us more about the ethical frictions and contrapositions at work in the contemporary media environment.

Access, deconstructed: An analysis of metajournalistic discourse concerning photojournalism and access • Patrick Ferrucci, U of Colorado; Ross Taylor, University of Colorado • This study examines metajournalistic discourse published surrounding the intersection of photojournalism and access. Researchers conducted a textual analysis of metajournalistic discourse published in articles by The Image, Deconstructed from 2011 to 2017 (N=70). Findings suggest that photojournalists define access differently than scholars. They obtain access through purposeful body language and verbal communication, clarity of intent and persistence. These findings are interpreted through the lens of the theory of metajournalistic discourse.

Using Angle of Sight to Confirm Media Bias of a Political Protest • Michael Friedman, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga • The study sought to understand if photographic media bias of political protest could be detected by applying the photographic principle of angle of sight to the pictures of the event. The investigation focused on the photographic news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests from two competing and politically opposite New York City tabloid newspapers. The purpose of the study was to determine if there were any differences in the selection of angle of sight photographs, which could act as a subtle cue to either glorify or condemn the protests. Results show strong statistical support that both papers chose the angled photograph that matched with their political opinion of the protest and is relevant to other researchers who seek to understand our legacy of media coverage of political protests.

Professional Photographers and Platforms and the Perceived Credibility of Photographs on the Internet • Gina Gayle; Andrew Wirzburger, Syracuse University; Jianan Hu; Honey Rao • As the use of amateur journalists in place of professionals to photograph current events has begun to shape news content (Pantti & Anden-Papadopoulos, 2011), and people assign varying levels of credibility to the sources of news content (Bracken, 2006), understanding the effects of “professional” labels is growing increasingly salient. This study sought to investigate differences in perceived credibility of photographs on the internet depending on whether or not a professional had taken the photograph and whether or not it had been published by a professional media outlet. Definitions for the dimensions of perceived photograph credibility were adapted from previous research into general internet credibility (Metzger, 2007). The researchers hypothesized that people provided with information that the photograph was somehow “professional” would perceive it to have higher credibility. The study was designed as an experiment with four groups that evaluated photographs using a self-administered online questionnaire; each group was provided with different information about the photograph to stimulate differences between groups. Results produced no significant differences between groups for the concept of credibility but did yield significance for “authority,” one dimension of credibility. These results may be due to the influx of citizen journalism as well as diminishing public trust in mainstream news media.

Chaos, Quest and Restitution Narratives of Depression on Tumblr • Ali Hussain, Michigan State University • This paper studies how visuals from Tumblr might be used to evoke narratives of depression. Fourteen patients with moderately severe depression were interviewed using photo-elicitation method. Findings encompass three types of narratives: chaos, quest and restitution. Chaos narrative describe experiencing illnesses with no cure or unreliable treatments. Quest narrative are about patients’ fighting back. Restitution narrative points toward the belief that health is restorable. Study offers implications to use images during depression counseling sessions.

Show me a story: Narrative, image, and audience engagement on sports network Instagram accounts • Rich Johnson, Creighton University; Miles Romney, Brigham Young University • Social media is a growing space for interpersonal and masspersonal communication and the shared image that often accompanies these messages has become a factor in increasing audience engagement. This study seeks to understand what types of images generate more engagement from social media audiences. A group of communication scholars argue that narrative is the most basic form of human communication and therefore messages with strong narrative themes more easily connect the message from the communicator to the audience. This study performed a content analysis of nearly 2,000 images shared by Sports Networks on Instagram. Operating under Kress and Van Leeuwen’s (2006) methodology for determining narrative in image, the study found that images that contained narrative or metacommunicative messages (Bateson, 1951) resulted in greater interest and engagement by audiences through the manifestation of likes and comments. The study offers a methodology for organizations seeking greater engagement from social media audiences.

Cognitive Effects of Emotional Visuals and Company–Cause Congruence in Visual CSR Messages • Sun Young Lee, Texas Tech University; Sungwon Chung, Fort Hays State University • Using the limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing (LC4MP), associative network theory, and expectancy violation theory as theoretical frameworks, this study seeks to explore the cognitive effects of two aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) messages: emotional visuals and company–cause congruence. We employed a 2 (emotional tone of visuals: positive vs. negative) × 2 (company–cause congruence: low vs. high) within-subjects experimental design. We tested these factors using three CSR issues: hunger in Africa, water shortage in Africa, and an environmental issue. The results showed interaction effects between the two factors for recognition sensitivity (d′) to company logos, ordered from being the highest when using a negative image and high company–cause congruence, to a negative image and low company–cause congruence, a positive image and low company–cause congruence, and a positive image and high company–cause congruence as the lowest. For cued recall of company names, we found that there were two main effects, with no interaction effects, and negative images were more effective than positive images: high company–cause congruence was more effective than low company–cause congruence. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Sleight of Hand, Slight of Truth: Deceptive Editing of Documentary Footage in The Look of Silence • Thomas Mascaro, Bowling Green State University • Abstract: The documentary film The Look of Silence conceals editorial sleight of hand involving a 1967 NBC documentary The Battle for Asia, Part III: Indonesia: The Troubled Victory. The editing, which is not disclosed to audiences, misrepresents the original report and contravenes documentary practice. This case illuminates libel law, with regard to DVD and interview statements accompanying a film’s release, and worrisome trend of “poetic” films eclipsing empirical reporting in documentaries.

Solutions in the shadows: The effects of incongruent visual messaging in solutions journalism news stories • Karen McIntyre, Virginia Commonwealth University; Kyser Lough, The University of Texas at Austin; Keyris Manzanares • This experiment examined the impact of story-photo congruency regarding solutions journalism. We tested the effects of solution and conflict-oriented news stories when the photo paired with the story was congruent or incongruent with the narrative. Results revealed that a solution-oriented story with a congruent photo made readers feel the most positive, but surprisingly readers were most interested in the story and reported the strongest behavioral intentions when the story was paired with a neutral photo.

The dead Syrian refugee boy goes viral: Funerary Aylan Kurdi memes as tools for social justice in remix culture • Natalia Mielczarek, Virginia Tech • The picture of the 3-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose dead body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015, became iconic after it went viral on social media. Within hours, Aylan was a symbol, a hashtag and a meme. This project analyzes the most popular funerary Aylan memes to understand their meanings and functions as they proliferated cyberspace. Through visual rhetorical analysis, the project expands the functions of memes from the typically theorized visual jokes and social commentary to tools of social justice. The case study demonstrates how memes get deployed as rhetorical statements to subvert and re-negotiate reality, in this case to create a ‘better ending’ for the dead boy and to seek atonement for his death. The project also analyzes the paradoxical relationship between a news icon and its digital appropriations, suggesting a new metric for iconicity in digital participatory culture.

What Makes a Meme a Meme? Five Essential Characteristics • Maria Molina, Pennsylvania State University • During the 2016 presidential elections (December 2015-2016), the term “meme” had a higher search interest in the U.S. than the word “election” (Google Trends, 2016). But what makes an Internet meme a meme? And what attracts users to not only view memes, but also create and share them? This article reviews the existent literature, explicates this form of user-generated content, and provides a set of characteristics to differentiate Internet memes from other type of content also shared online. The goal of this exercise is to provide the study of Internet memes with an integrated definition, encompassing the mutually understood set of characteristics of memes. As Chaffee (1991) describes, a concept explication plays a vital role for the advancement of a field as it helps uncover the different components of the term, provides a description of the studies that have been done in the field, and postulates areas of future research and how to move in a cohesive direction. More specifically, it will provide a tool, or measure for the analysis of the uses, motivations, and effects of this new media trend.

The Graphicness of Renowned Imagery: A Content Analysis of Pulitzer Prize Winning Photography • David Morris II, University of Oregon; Nicole Dahmen, University of Oregon • An ongoing journalistic debate centers on the extent of acceptability of graphic imagery in the news media. In order to provide a more complete understanding of this ongoing debate, it is essential to conduct research that provides insight into the content of such imagery, especially renowned imagery. The current research uses a content analysis to explore the visual themes and type of graphicness present in the census of 763 Pulitzer Prize winning photographs from 1942 to 2015.

Closing the Gap Between Photojournalist Research and Photojournalism Practice: Exploring the Motivations of the Subjects of Sensitive Photo Essays • Tara Mortensen; Brian McDermott; Daniel Haun, University of South Carolina • There have always been challenges to pursuing photo essays, including the wariness of potential photo subjects who are often in the midst of personal hardships themselves, as well as a commitment of months or years to a single story. But contemporarily, there is a shrinking number of photojournalists and resources in the newsroom, as many have been replaced with iPhone-armed reporters and the abundance of citizen-shot photography (Allan, 2013; Hartley, 2007; Örnebring, 2013; Stelter, 2013; White, 2012). Citizens are more willing than ever to share thousands of photos a second on Snapchat and millions of photos on instagram every day (Biale, 2016; Schlosser, 2016), but an irony to this phenomenon and additional blow to photojournalists who are struggling to maintain their professional status (Gade & Lowrey, 2011; Mortensen, 2014) is that these same people are often hesitant allow professional photojournalists to tell their story (McDermott, 2012). This study is the first to inquire about the factors that influence peoples’ willingness to allow professional photojournalists tell their story, including topics such as sexual assault in the military, a woman’s struggle with losing her legs, and a mother’s struggle with losing a child. Guided by uses and gratifications theory, ten in-depth interviews with subjects of peer-judged contest winners from 2014 – 2016 in the multiple picture story categories of the NPPA Monthly Clip Contest, the NPPA Best of Photojournalism Contest, and the World Press Photo Contest were conducted and analyzed using a constant comparative method (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Priming effects on Instagram: An analysis of how pictures on Instagram affect individuals’ risk perceptions and information seeking behaviors • NIcole O’Donnell • This research explored how images on Instagram affect individuals’ information processing and seeking. Participants viewed Instagram posts that discussed the natural flavors added to processed foods. Individuals in a science-image condition had higher risk perceptions than individuals in a health image condition; however, this effect was moderated by nutrition label usage. Additionally, 45% of participants choose to seek further information on the topic. Implications for the integration of priming effects and information processing theories are discussed.

Profile Pictures and Political Expression: The Perceived Effectiveness of Avatar Activism (an Austrian Case). • Judith Schossboeck, City University Hong Kong • This paper investigates the phenomenon of avatar activism (AA), understood as changing one’s profile picture in a social media (SM) or online social network (OSN) for political reasons or a good cause from a quantitative perspective. Specifically, the effectiveness of avatar activism as perceived by users engaging in this practice, as well as its relation to factors like age, participation in OSNs, online social capital and political engagement are investigated. An online questionnaire of n = 210 was distributed before the Austrian Presidential Elections in December 2016, and the topic AA was placed within the context of the elections, but also addressed other examples of AA. After increasing the variable perceived effectiveness of AA along several levels related to cognitive or actual impact, results show that most people do see this activity as a good form of self-expression, but doubt the actual political impact. Age, participation in OSNs and online social capital could not be identified as influencing factors of perceived effectiveness of AA. However, engagement in AA is related to other forms of political engagement. The limitations of the study and possible further directions are discussed.

Networked photographic repertoire and capital: Prosumption of selfies among Taiwanese gay men on Instagram • Hong-Chi Shiau, Shih-Hsin University • This study attempts to illustrate identity performance and consumption by Taiwanese gay men through their behavior of posting and commenting on selfies. This study selects a gay community on Instagram as a site for fieldwork because millennials are quitting Facebook, once Taiwan’s most popular social networking site, but now in a steep decline. The prosuming of selfies on Instagram is analyzed as a particular form of speech community, adjusted to the orientation of users towards initiating social bonding, corporal aesthetic regulation, or even sexual encounters. Through ethnographic interviews with 17 gay male college students from Taiwan and textual analysis of their correspondence though texting on Instagram, this study contextualizes how the rituals and social processes engaged in on Instagram help constitute a collective identity pertaining to Taiwanese gay men on Instagram. The prosuming of selfies is examined as an identity-making process involving three nuanced types of cultural capital. These uploaded representations of the self are referenced to the collective past. Three typological personae are identified to illuminate the notions of cultural, aesthetic and emotional labor. The conclusion offers an alternative sociological intervention that goes beyond the notion of digital narcissism to help understand how the labor of presenting selfies is invested and reproduced.

‘Sight Beyond My Sight’ (SBMS): Concept, Methodology, and a Tool For Seeing • Gabriel Tait, Arkansas State University • Sight Beyond My Sight (SBMS), a new visual research method, aims to empower individuals to participate in the photographic communication and social science research process. This introductory study examines local people taking pictures to share knowledge about topics. This SBMS case study of photos from eleven participants (eight men and three women) between the ages of 18-65 from Liberia, West Africa, explains the method, discusses the participants, highlights some photographs taken, and offers an encapsulated analysis of what was learned from Liberians about Liberia. Advancing the participatory research methods of “Photovoice” (Wang and Burris 1994) in public health communication education, “Shooting Back” (Hubbard 2009) in photojournalism, and “Autophotography” (Ziller 1990) social psychology, SBMS bridges a gap in communication and social science research practices.

The evolution of story: How time and modality affect visual and verbal narratives • T.J. Thomson, University of Missouri • A majority of Americans distrust the news media due to concerns over comprehensiveness, accuracy, and fairness. Since many interactions between journalists and their subjects last only minutes and can be published within minutes, if not live, research is needed to explore how journalists’ understandings of their subjects’ narratives evolve over time and how much time is necessary to avoid surface-level coverage. Also, since people are now exposed to more image-based rather than text-based messages, additional research is necessary to explore how the verbal narratives spoken by subjects compare to their nonverbal narratives as captured by news photographers in visual form. Through a longitudinal, interview-based approach, a photojournalist working on a 30-plus-day picture story was interviewed weekly for six weeks over the course of his project to track perceptions of how his subjects’ verbal narratives changed. At the conclusion of the projects, the photojournalist’s subjects were also interviewed to explore how their verbal and nonverbal narratives compared. Informed by literature in role theory, narrative, and visual journalism, the findings explore how news media narratives can be more nuanced and how people shape their visual and verbal narratives consciously and unconsciously.

Parsing photograph’s place in a privately public world • T.J. Thomson, University of Missouri; Keith Greenwood, University of Missouri • Billions of personal cameras exist globally that capture more than one trillion images each year. In contrast to studies that focus on cameras in a particular industry or field, such as body cameras in law enforcement or diagnostic imaging in medical settings, this study adopts a comparative and integrative approach using the public-private distinction to explore 1) how people in different social spheres perceive cameras and those who operate them, 2) what factors influence those perceptions, and 3) how technological convergence, camera access, and digital dissemination ease are impacting social life. Through in-depth interviews with individuals in the public and private spheres, an understanding of camera operators as primarily disruptive or primarily affirmative emerged and participants and factors that influenced their perceptions were gathered. Participants also said more cameras and converged technology are blurring the lines between public and private, that exposure in public seems to reduce inclination for private exposure, that cameras are shifting the nature of experience, and that cameras are becoming increasingly regulated.

Location, Location, Location: Visual Properties and Recognition of Video Game Advertising. • Russell Williams • Videogame placements are important for advertising and there is limited cognitive capacity available to players during a game to notice these ads. This is a quasi-experimental study using a commercial videogame and the Limited Capacity Model as an exploratory mechanism. It demonstrates that positioning in the focal visual block enhanced recognition, and that integrated ads and landmarks are better recognized than interruptive advertisements. Practical implications are discussed.

2017 ABSTRACTS

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