The attitudinal work of news journalism images – a search for visual and verbal analogues

White, Peter R.R. (2014) The attitudinal work of news journalism images – a search for visual and verbal analogues. Bologna: Centro di Studi Linguistico-Culturali (CeSLiC) e Alma Mater Studiorum, Università di Bologna. ALMADL - Area Sistemi Dipartimentali e Documentali, DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/4110. In: Quaderni del CeSLiC. Occasional papers A cura di: Miller, Donna Rose. ISSN 1973-221X.
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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the potential of journalistic still images (photographs, pictorial layouts, artwork and political cartooning) to position readers/viewers to take a positive or negative view of the people, events and situations which are the subject matter of news journalism coverage. Referencing prior work by Economou (2009) and Swain (2012), it offers an account of the mechanisms, the particular visual qualities and compositional arrangements, by which such attitudinal effects are achieved. Its primary concern is exploring the grounds by which the mechanisms through which journalistic images activate positive or negative attitudes might be treated as analogous to related verbal expressions of attitude. In developing this discussion, it references and revisits the account of the language of evaluation developed within the Appraisal literature (Martin and White 2005). It proposes that in order to identify analogues to verbal expressions which, on the one hand, explicitly assert attitudinal assessments and which, on the other hand, activate attitudinal positions through implication and association, it is useful to attend to the following issues: (1) the salience or detectability of the author’s subjective presence in the text as the communicative agent who puts an attitudinal meaning into play; (2) the stability of the attitudinal associations of a given expression across multiple contexts of use; (3) the role of the reader in supplying attitudinal interpretations or inferences; (4) the terms under which relations of author-reader solidarity are negotiated or put at risk but the expression currently under consideration.

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