Amateur visuals of war: How did amateur photography represent the Syrian uprising in online news in Britain?

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Title: Amateur visuals of war: How did amateur photography represent the Syrian uprising in online news in Britain?
Author: Denholm, Christopher
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: The ordinary citizen’s role in visually reporting war zones has undergone a huge transformation with the emergence of new technologies and methods of distributing images. This Master’s thesis aims to examine whether traditional news organizations are embracing new methods of image gathering through their online news coverage. Based on a quantative content analysis over a two-year period, this paper investigates the use of amateur photography during the beginning of the Syrian conflict. The intentions of this study are to compare the use of amateur photographs of the Syrian conflict in three ‘quality’ British newspapers — The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times. This study employed a detailed content analysis of all amateur and professional photographs relevant to the conflict during several flashpoints, with the following questions in mind: How did mainstream British news organisations use non-professional images in their visual coverage of the Syrian conflict? What impact did amateur images have on the framing of the conflict in relation to professional imagery? How did non-professional images reflect the violence of war frame in the online coverage of the conflict? Four key findings emerged from the content analysis: Firstly, non-professional images are still subjected to the well-established journalistic practice of gatekeeping. Secondly, amateur footage primarily focused on the violence of war frame and sought to humanise a distant conflict to the newspaper’s audience. Thirdly, the use of video screenshots has firmly established itself as a new source of image for both news agencies distributing images and the newspapers. Finally, non-professional photography demonstrated that all three newspapers avoided publishing excessively graphic content and maintained ethical and moral boundaries in their selection of amateur footage.
URI: URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201802051226
Date: 2017
Subject: Amateur images
citizen journalism
war reporting
user-generated content
Discipline: Viestintä
Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation

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