Two aims of my DECRA project are to examine the extent to which there may be a correlation between emerging representations of society and public sentiment published on social media and captured in citizen ‘photo-journalism’ and the news imagery published by the mainstream media.
These aims have been addressed through comparative qualitative multimodal analysis of select imagery published on Instagram and in the news publications examined for the image sourcing survey. Instagram has been chosen for analysis because of its domination of the image market and because it makes use of readily searchable hashtags, which filter images into searchable categories.
The three case studies are:
Australian federal election 2016 (an event of political significance)
Australia Day 2017 (and event of cultural significance)
South Australian storms of September 2016 (an event of historical significance)
All images associated with these three events have been collected from the news media surveyed for the sourcing survey on the day it occurs and two days either side in the first two cases, and four days after in the case of the spot news event (the South Australian storms).
The images have been subjected to qualitative multimodal discourse analysis, using the analytical methods I have developed in previous studies of news photography (Caple 2013), while at the same time drawing on the tools developed by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) for image analysis. These include an examination of representational meaning, uncovering the subject matter and perspectives represented in the image (by assessing activity sequences and roles of image participants), interpersonal meaning, uncovering the sentiments expressed through images (by assessing how the images engage audiences evaluatively), and textual meanings, uncovering the aesthetic qualities of the images (by assessing the composition of the images).
The qualitative analysis assesses the claim that modern audiences demand the eyewitness perspective and the extent to which the Australian news media is able to meet this demand, and whether the Australian news media is in line with the expression of public sentiment through social media platforms on events of cultural, political, and historical significance.