Through the Lens Visual Framing of the Japan Tsunami in U.S., British, and Chinese Online Media Rosellen Downey, Erika Johnson, and Bailey Brewer University of Missouri
Literature • Framing—lack of visual framing research • Textual elements studied more often (Matthes, 2009) • Visual framing and natural disasters • Most on visual framing in war and terrorism • Few on natural disasters (Fahmy et al., 2007) • Human interest and political power • Human interest frames are an emerging area of research (Peng, 2004; Schwalbe, 2008; Wojdynski, 2009) • Often, political figures studied more than common man (Grabe & Bucy, 2008)
Hypotheses and RQs • RQ1: Does geographic location of the news outlet relate to the portrayal of natural disasters? • RQ2: Does geographic location of the disaster relate to the portrayal of the disaster? • RQa: Do roles of human beings in photos differ between NPR, BBC, and Xinhua online coverage and between Japan and other countries? • RQb: Does the nationality of human beings shown in photos differ between NPR, BBC, and Xinhua online coverage and between Japan and other countries? • RQc: Does absence or presence of human beings in photos of flooding differ between NPR, BBC, and Xinhua online coverage and between Japan and other countries? • RQd: Does the number of people shown in photos differ between NPR, BBC, and Xinhua online coverage and between Japan and other countries? • H1: Geographic proximity will be related to disaster portrayal.
Variables • IVs: • IV1: Nation providing coverage • IV2: Nation being covered • DVs: • DV1: Role of people/person in the photo • DV2: Nationality of people/person in photo • DV3: Presence or absence of people in photos • DV4: Number of people in the photo.
Sample • N = 242 photos • From NPR (n = 58), BBC (n = 52), and Xinhua (n = 132) websites • March 11-13, 2011 census sample • Search term: “Japan tsunami” • Images only coded once, no repeats • Videos, infographics, and maps not coded
Results • Sample – Most frequent in China • China 54.5% • U.S. 24%, • Britain 21.5% • Japan most frequently covered • Most subjects were Japanese • People present in 66% of photos
Significant Results • Nation of coverage and role • Nation covered and role • Nation of coverage and nationality • Nation covered and nationality • Nation covered and presence of people • Nation covered and number of people
Role • 44.4% of civil servants were from other countries • 56.6% from Japan • Britain • Few government authorities appearing alone • China • Predominantly civilian coverage
Nationality • Dominance of landscape photos • Japanese nationality occurred most in Chinese coverage
Human Subjects • Human subjects outnumbered landscapes
Number of People • Few photos featuring single individual • Mostly appeared in small and large groups
Discussion • China had most visual coverage • Geographic proximity • Thus, China dominated coverage of civilians, photos of Japanese subjects, landscape photos • Xinhua’s practice of capturing frames from video news • Focus on coverage of humans, not landscape • But, 1/3 of photos were of landscapes overall
References • Fahmy, S., Kelly, J. D., & Yung Soo, K. (2007). What Katrina revealed: A visual analysis of the hurricane coverage by news wires and U.S. newspapers. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 84(3), 546-561. • Grabe, M., & Bucy, E. (2008). The struggle for control: Visual framing, news coverage, and image handling of presidential candidates, 1992-2004. International Communication Association, 1-42. • Matthes, J. (2009). What’s in a frame? a content analysis of media framing studies in the world’s leading communication journals, 1990-2005. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 86(2), 349-367. • Peng, Z. (2004). Picturing china: A content analysis of photo coverage in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. International Communication Association, 1+. • Schwalbe, C. B., Silcock, B., & Keith, S. (2008). Visual framing of the early weeks of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq: Applying the master war narrative to electronic and print images. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52(3), 448-465. • Wojdynski, B. (2009). The interactive newspaper: Online multimedia and the framing of the Iraq War. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, 1-37.