Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Critical Analysis - Photojournalism Lecture

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story.

This often leads to people making their own about a photo, which often causes political and heated debates within society. These types of photographs often have a metonymy effect in tabloid newspapers.

For example the image of Saddam Hussein’s statue falling in Baghdad created meaning on its own without the need of a caption to tell its reader what has happened.

French literary critic and semiotician, Roland Bathes thought that viewers looking at photos ultimately believed that: ‘The thing had been there’ (Camera Lucida: ‘Reflections on Photography, 1982) in other words photos depict ‘what-has-been’ by bringing real life events into the public realm.

Using Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiotic approach, Roland Barthes also thinks that an image itself is fundamentally ‘polysemic’, open to multiple interpretations,

However if the image is ‘anchored’ by a specific textual message, the reader can be encouraged to view an image in a certain light.

For example various images depicting the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue has created numerous arguments such as: ‘Was the fall of Saddam's statue a U.S. staged media event?’

This is also an example of an ‘iconic image’. This is when specific photographs become symbolic of a particular event, triggering the public’s memory, feeling and emotions about that period in time. These images are often used as enduring historical icons.

Also drawing on his structural roots, Barthes suggested that the press photograph should not be regarded as an isolated structure.

Semiotic analysis’s of cultural myths, on the other hand allows us to deconstruct codes in popular cultural texts, revealing how certain belief systems may be legitimised at the expense of others.

Word Count: 297

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