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Visualizing Technology: Images in Google and Yahoo News Aggregators. Dr. Cindy Royal Assistant Professor Virginia Commonwealth University School of Mass Communications. Abstract.

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Visualizing technology images in google and yahoo news aggregators l.jpg

Visualizing Technology: Images in Google and Yahoo News Aggregators

Dr. Cindy Royal

Assistant Professor

Virginia Commonwealth University

School of Mass Communications


Abstract l.jpg

Abstract

  • 24% of Internet users have searched the Internet for news, photographs or videos that other media outlets have decided not to publish or broadcast.

  • 67% of the adult American population goes online, including 68% of men and 66% of women with women slightly outnumbering men in the Internet population because they make up a greater share of the overall U.S. population.

  • Differences exist in the quality of one’s usage based on gender.

  • Men are more interested in technology and more tech-savvy than women.

  • With such significant differences in the quality of ones usage of technology being determined by gender, it is important to understand the cultural and social reasons for such diverse patterns.

  • Images in online media can influence how we imagine our roles in society. This study analyzes the framing of images representing technology on two popular news aggregators, Google News and Yahoo News.

*Pew Internet and American Life Project Studies


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Literature Review

  • Framing - “Frames are organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world.” (Reese, 2001) When used by the media in setting the context of a story, framing can promote certain values and discourage others.

  • Feminist Media - representations of women in media, women’s magazines, women’s usage of telephone and television, discourses of the private sphere

  • Cyberfeminism - “a woman-centered perspective that advocates women’s use of new information and communications technology for empowerment.” (Millar, 1998)


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Method

  • Visited Google and Yahoo News sites daily for 15 consecutive days from January 18 – February 1, 2006

  • A total of 513 images collected; 273 images were analyzed for Google and 240 for Yahoo

  • Sites were visited at 8am each morning to simulate the viewing habits of a user surfing for news early in the day

  • On the Google site, the news category Science/Technology was visited. On the Yahoo site, the Technology category was visited.

  • The pages were saved in pdf format and later printed out in order to perform the analysis

  • Coded site, main character, no. of people, gender, and usage

  • Second coder used on sample, agreement 90% or better on each variable

  • Data imported to SPSS for summarization and analysis


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Hypotheses tested

  • H1: Images of inanimate objects are used more frequently than humans on both search engines to represent technology, thus indicating the disembodied nature of society’s view of technology.

  • H2: Of the images of inanimate objects, corporate logos will represent a significant percentage. This will indicate the power of corporate presence in media representations of technology.

  • H3: Images of individuals are used more frequently than groups thus romanticizing the idea of the lone inventor or programmer on the technological frontier.

  • H4: Images of men are predominant in representing Technology thus representing the male dominance of the technology field.

  • H5: While individuals are more likely to be used to depict technology, men will be more likely to be shown as individuals than women.

  • H6: Men are more likely to be depicted as technology executives or using technology; women more likely to be seen as objects, not engaging with technology.


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Conclusions

  • Symbolic annihilation (Tuchman) is still relevant in media images, particularly in regard to technology coverage

  • Women portrayed less often and with different usage patterns than men in images depicting technology

  • Inanimate objects and corporate logos are often used to represent technology, even as the Internet becomes more of a communications medium

  • Further analysis should include continued research on the ways that images of technology are used to influence our idea of who uses it and how it is engaged (race, ethnicity, age); experimentation to determine how users engage with images.


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