Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week 12: Photojournalism: The Best of Both Worlds.

Photojournalism is the use of photographs in conjunction with the reporting of news in media such as print newspapers, magazines, televisions and internet reporting.  It is believed that of all the image-making technologies, it is the photograph that brought journalism to another level. As a choice of news relay, photographs acts as a medium for journalist to reach its audience (Zelizer, 2005, pp.168). The public see images as evidence with the news. This is because photographs are thought to confirm the truth as it provides depiction of the world as it is, offering solid facts and comprehensibility. Thus, images help to sway the public’s mind (Zelizer, 2005, pp.172)
However, post-modernist rejected the idea that a photograph only directs us to a singular truth. In fact, there are multiple “truths” that an image can tell. It is believed that an image can only be frame subjectively and not objectively.

This week’s entry, I have decided to investigate on the ethical issues of photojournalism as both are the very hard and core of its constitution.

Photography has always been driven by technology. The quality of the image has improved vastly with better lighting, sharper focus, and lush color as photojournalists began using digital photography. As a result, the images are not always shown in a way that matches their initial shooting. (Collins)

Thus they have been accused for doctoring photographs, manipulating the truth and perpetuating negative stereotypes of individuals from various multicultural groups (Paul Martin Lester). According to William J. Mitchell,

“One of the major problems we face as photojournalists is the fact that the public is losing faith in us. Our readers and viewers no longer believe everything they see. All images are called into question because the computer has proved that images are malleable, changeable, and fluid. In movies, advertisements, TV shows, magazines, we are constantly exposed to images created or changed by computers.” (Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography: Credibility)

One good example I would like to illustrate is a photo tampered by the editors at el Nuevo Herald. (Winslow, 2006)

According to the National Press Photographers Association, it is said that the fake photograph came from two separate pictures combined together making the image seemed as if the police in Cuba were ignoring prostitution. The caption reads, “The government has proven incapable of confronting the dramatic phenomenon of prostitution.”

Humberto Castello, el Nuevo Herald’s executive editor apologized for publishing the fake photograph without a headline that would tell readers the picture was a montage. However, none of the workers had been fired for creating or publishing the fake photograph.

This of course was a big issue because according to NPPA past President Alicia Wagner Calzada, news must be presented in high ethical standards which only print the truth and nothing but. This is to stop newspaper firms to lose all credibility amongst peers, subjects, advertisers and most importantly, their readers.

To summarize all this, I believe that pictures and writings act as an important role in defining the truth. This is because images together with its narrative components of the story evoke almost immediate emotional responses among viewers which combine to educate, entertain and persuade. However, if visuals are misused, it can offend, mislead and stereotype which will eventually raise ethical issues.

Works Cited

Barthes, R. (1981). Camera Lucida: Reflection on photography. In R. Howard. New York.

Collins, R. (n.d.). A Brief History of Photography and Photojournalism. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from

Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography: Credibility. (n.d.). Retrieved november 3, 2010, from

Paul Martin Lester, P. (n.d.). Photojournalism Ethics Timeless Issues. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from

Winslow, D. R. (2006, august 2). A question of truth: photojournalism and visual ethics. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from

Zelizer, B. (2005). Journalism through the camera's eyes. In S. Allan, Journalism: Critical Issues. (pp. 167-176). Berkshire: Open University Press.

Week 11: Information Graphics: Who says data and graphs must be boring?

In this contemporary society, the media is seen to be highly advanced with the use of visuals to advertise the goods and services of respective corporate but primarily to educate the public. (Lester, 1995, p. 194) Part of the reason why in this day and age, things around us are presented visually is because most of us are said to be visual learners/thinkers (Felder. & Soloman). People who acquire such visual learning styles are thought to remember concepts and ideas well when presented in a visual or graphical format; may it be in written language, diagrams, pictures or films (identifying your learning styles).This is because graphics can communicate up to 60,000 times faster than text  (Burmark, 2004).

Information graphics, more commonly known as info graphics, provides short stories with multicolored graphic illustrations and because of this; it is gaining its popularity in magazines, newspapers, corporate annual reports, and text books. (p.194)

For today’s entry, I would like to examine the strengths and weaknesses of information graphics. I feel that informational graphics have made quite an impact in the telecommunication industry for conveying its data.

One good example to present graphic reporting is the weather section of television news. 

With computer graphics today, the announcer can just report about the weather as he stands before a huge weather map as the director lightly projects a copy of the background image onto the blue or green screen. The colored icons along with the animated movements are both helpful because it enables us to distinguish the variables clearly. Before technology was a phenomenon, the weather announcer had to use literally draw symbols on chalkboards and sometimes magnetized strips that indicated weather fronts were stuck on large boards and sometimes would fall off. (p.190)

For info graphics to be effective, it needs to consist of a clear title, keys that explained symbols, and icons to make difficult information easier for the readers.

The example below shows how an effective graph looks like:

Then again, there are ethical issues in graph making that we must consider as communication professionals.

According to the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli,

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (p.207)

It is in fact true that statistical representations of numerical facts can easily distort the truth through accident, ignorance or intent. This shows that representations of empirical data can easily mislead unsuspecting public. (p.208)

Here is an example of a misleading info graphic. 

If you look at both of the graphs, the scales of the y-axis are not the same. The one on the left starts at a non-zero number which actually made the bars look smaller compared to the one on the right. And so, making the bars on the right appear bigger than it actually is.

Tufte emphasized that the presentation is never more important than the story. Therefore for info graphic to be effective, it is to always tell the truth. However, Nigel Holmes argued that in realistic world of commerce, a company must always cater to the consumers’ desires by entertaining its audience.

Overall, I believe that as a professional communication student, it will be great that we learn both aspects, the good and the bad, so that with this understanding of informational graphics, it will provide us the basis to perform well during presentations and show datas in a clear, precise and efficient manner.

Works Cited

Burmark, L. (2004). Visual Literacy. Retrieved september 2010, from Educational videos:

Felder., & Soloman. (n.d.). learning styles and strategies. Retrieved september 10, 2010, from

identifying your learning styles. (n.d.). Retrieved september 2010, from EducationAtlas:

(1995). Visual Communication: Images with messages. In P. M. Lester, Informational Graphics. (pp. 187-211). California: Wadsworth Publishing.

Week 10: Games and Avatars in the Information Age: We are Cyborgs.

We live in a world where people are becoming increasingly more dependent on sophisticated devices. We rely on cars to get from point A to point B and even for some, in need for prescription glasses for a better vision. I believe that it is acceptable to say that cars are prostatic of our feet and glasses are prostatic of our eyes because consequently, we are all becoming Cyborgs. The increasing reliance on technology is becoming part of our convention. - Of course nomads are not considered as cyborgs since they depend very much on the nature itself.

Therefore, we are highly engaged with it from the time we leave the house to the time we get back home. - And it doesn’t end there. Some of us may find ourselves going back to the virtual world as avatars to stay connected with your loved ones via Skype or even creating your own community where you find yourself well-respected by your peers.

This week’s entry I have decided to study on the significance of the cyber world. This is because, it fascinate me how people are so engrossed with the virtual world.

According to Barrie Sherman and Phil Judkins, they believed that virtual reality may be a place for people to be more comfortable than that of the outside world. With the new technology, people are finally able to flee from the limitations and the frustrations of the imperfect world.

“Virtual reality allows us to play with god: We can make water solid and solid fluid; we can imbue inanimate objects (chairs, lamps, engines) with an intelligent life of their own. We can invent animals, singing textures clever colors or fairies.” (Robins, 2000, pp.78)

Let’s take a look at this video clip.

In this video, you can see that cyber life provides entertainment for the disabled. They managed to make a lot of friends at the same time have fun in their avatar. However, being disabled limits them in doing things in the real world. Most of the times they are being confined at home thus, restricting them to interact and meet new people. As a result, they prefer being in the virtual world because it is in that world that they can do virtually anything from dancing to flying and swimming with whales.

What’s more interesting about the virtual world is that we get to create our own identity.

Rheingold believes that people have their roots “deep in that part of human nature that delights in storytelling and playing “let’s play pretend”. (pp. 80) However, the downside to this is that some of these people get too absorbed by the virtual world thus having difficulties distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not anymore.

There was a recent case in South Korea where a couple, husband of age 41 and his 25 year old wife was convicted of abandoning their newborn daughter by starving her to death while they addictively played an online game raising a virtual child. On average, the couple played at the Internet cafes 10 hours each day and only bottle-fed the baby once a day. (Press, 2010)

What I can conclude from this is that, although cyber life is a place where we can abort ourselves from the imperfect world and enjoy the little wanders from the tiny screen, we need to set about disillusioning ourselves and come back to reality, accepting the fact that we’re human beings and we can’t be perfect little creatures. 

Works Cited

Press, A. (2010, may 30). 'Internet addicts' convicted of starving baby to death. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from

Robins, K. (2000). Cyberspace and the world we live in. In D. a. Bell, The cybercultures (pp. 77-95). London: Routledge.

Week 9: Cinema and Television: Cultural Literacy and The Question of “What's it for?”

In this increasingly visual age, television is seen to be a popular medium and an integral part of one’s life. It’s not surprising to see most people arrange their eating schedules, leisure time and even the furniture to accommodate the television set (Neuman, 1995, p. 1). Television acts as a powerful tool to influence one's voting, shopping, and eating habits along with one's political or social viewpoints. It’s hard to believe that television has affected one’s life in one aspect or another. With the wide grasp of television, it has definitely contributed to our cultural literacy. (Smetana, 1997)

For this week, I decided to analyze the youth culture because as a teen myself, partly because it is easier to relate and also I find it interesting to understand their way of life.

Enter Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl is a popular series of young-adult novels by Cecily Von Ziegesar and is based on the lives of Manhattan’s elite. Blair Waldorf and best friend, Serena van der Woodsen thinks that the world revolves around them. –which is true, in New York City's private school of Constance Billard School for Girls at least. In this series, it always begins with a voice over by an anonymous blogger ‘Gossip Girl’, who somehow has the latest up-to date news on the two main characters and their posses. Though there’s a narrator, the narrative structure adopts some of the rules of a post-structuralist approach by having more than one focalizer.

Gossip girl is famous for its back-stabbing, scandalous high society life where the wealthy, gorgeous high school students drinks booze, take drugs, shop and cut class to have sex. (Stanley, 2007)

The discourses of wealthy teens are linked now with the stereotypical idea of the rich and the famous. To part of the high end society you need to look a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way and that high school is all about boys, sex, fashion and drugs. This whole representation of youth culture provides the public viewers especially the youth that wealthy teens are snobbish spoilt brats who get what they want.

However, the politics of wealthy teens is produced in this representation. It is believed that not all rich kids are snobbish spoilt brats. According to the survey carried out by PNC financial services group, although 22 percent of wealthy teens said, “I deserve to be rich because my parents are rich”, 55 percent of wealthy teens disagreed. In fact, 45 percent of wealthy teens said no while 25 percent said yes and the other 29 percent were unsure (PNC financial services, 2007). In fact, most students are struggling to make better lives for themselves by doing the very hard academic work a private school expects rather than exploit wealth and the extravagant.

Works Cited

Growing up wealthy: spoiled and extravagant or responsible and hardworking? - Affluent teens dont fit Tabloid stereotypes, PNC survey reveals. (2007, February 20). Retrieved november 5, 2010, from The PNC financial services group, Inc. [US]:

Neuman, S. B. (1995). Literacy in the television age: the myth of the TV effect . Retrieved november 5, 2010, from

Stanley, A. (2007, september 19). Reading, Writing and Raunch: Mean Girls Rule Prep School. Retrieved november 5, 2010, from

Week 8: Photography: Reconceptualising Culture, Memory and Space

Photography has always been inclined with a sense of realism. It began during industrialization when photography was used as a tool of documentation intended as a form of record and witness. Susan Sontag (Photography: A Critical Introduction) defined photograph as a ‘trace’ directly stenciled off reality, like the footprint or the death mask. She explained that a photograph has the aptitude of freezing a moment in time which provides evidence of the real (pp. 40).  It functions to stop time and space and creating a series of essay enacting historical products and nostalgia. Thus, this produce a strong referent since photography best presents the everyday and the familiar (Roberts, 1998).  

It is believed that photography is an important study of how space and spatiality transformed by visual images affects the way we understand and negotiate with the world. Thus it becomes a cultural and social instrument of critique.

This week’s entry, I was asked to capture a series of photographs and provide a cultural critique on it. (I apologize in advance for the photographs are not of good-quality.)

As I was having a walk around the neighborhood in Kg. Mata-mata, I came across a place where the construction workers were assembling parts as they work their way on building the unfinished two-storey house. I decided to capture these moments as it best shows a good example for cultural critique. The reason why I chose these photos is because I wanted to adopt a revolutionary approach.

 Max Dortu’s poem characterized the revolutionary approach. It is believed that this approach extols the use of camera for its ability to photograph all strata of society as well as bringing people together to work towards a revolutionary victory. (Wright, pp. 138)

“We must take photographs wherever proletarian life is at its hardest and the bourgeoisie at its most corrupt: and we shall increase the fighting power of our class in so far as our pictures show class consciousness, mass consciousness, discipline, solidarity, a spirit of aggression and revenge. Photography is a weapon; so is technology; so is art!” (Hoernle, 1930:49)

Edwin Hoernle described it as the working men’s eyes: the idea that the workers world was invisible to the bourgeoisie. This is quite true according to my account. If it was not because of the noise pollution from the construction site, I would not have notice them. The other passerby however did not bother to take a glance at all; instead, they just walk ahead treating the workers as being invisible. Thus, I believe these pictures exude the culture of capitalism. The capitalist society oppresses the marginalized group through exploitation of labour and for being disregarded.

And as for that, Hoernle stated that photographers must break away from those representations that are set against the background of bourgeois culture. (pp.138)

I believe by adding captions onto the photographs, it completely reframes the whole meaning of an image. I will now make an attempt to one of the photos above.

End wage exploitation now.
They have a family, just like you do.

As you can see, it acts as an anchor. The image together with the caption gives a stronger impact which will leave people thinking twice about this.

In conclusion, photography creates an estrangement between human perception and our surroundings as it provides us a new way of seeing. In fact, i believe photography is a powerful tool to influence one's opinion so as to change social condition. 

Works Cited

Roberts, J. (1998). The art of interruption: realism, photography and the everyday . Retrieved october 23, 2010, from screening the

Sontag, S. (1997). Photography: A Critical Introduction. In L. Wells, Thinking about photography. (p. 40). London.: Routledge.

(1999). Photography handbook. In T. Wright, Photography as a cultural critique (pp. 135-151). London: Routledge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 7: Visual Narrative and The Media.

It is said that men are creative beings who spend most of their time employing different forms of narration possible to share a piece of their story during their life course.  According to Fisher’s book Narrative Paradigm, stories are shaped by history, culture and character. He believed that narratives are central to human life (p.298). It is in our very nature to be storytellers (Lemon, 2006) and these stories or narratives are being passed down from one generation to the next.  In some point, stories or narratives help document history so as to be remembered, heard and shown. From this, it allows us to be more imaginative; pushing our minds and thoughts to the limit (Pierzchala, Winter 2009).

There are different kinds of narratives; ranging from oral, written, visual, and photographic as to name a few. However, some people tend to over simplify the meaning of narrative and collapse all storytelling into a single category (Peter Lamarque, 1994. p. 131).

Narrative can be understood as “a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious”. (narrative)

All narrative has a dualistic nature that involves the story or content – also known as fabula in relation to events, actions, time and location; and the discourse – how the story is told in terms of arrangement and emphasis of any elements of the content (Narrative Theory: A Brief Introduction).

According to Lamarque (pg.131), the narrative content must consist of description of the events and not just a mere catalogue of descriptive sentences. Secondly, temporal dimension is essential for the shaping of events by calling to mind accounts of the past. This is so that experiences can be told in an orderly fashion. Once arrangements of events are in chronological order, it provides structure to the content. With this meshed together, you get a plot. - A structured series of interconnected events. Therefore, it is important to have structure in a story because it helps to connect the missing dots as well as records. Thirdly, for every narrative, there is a narrator; real or implied or both. Narratives don’t just exist; they are told and mediated from some perspective. Huisman named this phenomenon of focalization (pg.13). Thus, the four basic dimensions of all narrative are time, structure, voice, and point of view. Once these are in tack, it gives a beginning, middle and an end to the narrative as stated by Aristotle’s Dramatic Structure.  

According to Aristotle, he believes that the form of action can take the place of the process of telling. He stated “in the drama, there is no narration because the actors do the action.” Presumably narrative can be implied.  This is known as “mimesis” which in English means “showing”. However, when a narrator tells us both the story (action) and the speech of the characters (character’s speeches are spoken), this suggest to an overlapping concept of both diegetic and mimetic. - A ‘mixed mode’. For Plato, diegesis suggests that the poet himself is a speaker and mimesis explains that poet tries to give the illusion that another character speaks (Huisman 2005 p.18-19).

As stated in the book Narrative concepts by Rosemary Huisman, narrative is recognized in many different media such as films, in television and so on (p.11). This is indeed true as so to speak. For this reason, I have attempted to expand my investigation on narratives in the context of visual communication with an emphasis on video clip and pictorial, a medium that shapes our perception of stories told through it.

Enter, Royal Brunei Holiday Report


The motive of this video is to promote and show what Brunei has to offer for the people that have not yet (or wish to for that matter) step foot on Brunei’s soil. Thus, the reporter’s mission was to stay a couple of days in Brunei to draw up a visual report as she explored her way in the Heart of Borneo filled with cultural richness, breath-taking views of the rainforest and the amazing architecture. Since the report is mediated from her, she is the focalizer. Here, the reporter/narrator is the speaking subject whilst the subject of speech is on Brunei tourism.

The narrator was given the opportunity to visit the little wonders and aspect of Brunei Darussalam by visiting the museum, the palace (where she gets to see Her Majesty in person), Brunei’s most exquisite 7 stars hotel: The Empire Hotel and lastly, escaped into the beauty of god’s creation: the tropical rainforest. The reporter gave very descriptive sentences on each of the events she experienced to help increase the climax of the narrative by highlighting the tourist spots to captivate the audience’s attention.  

Finally, there is intertextuality found in the report. One of which is the ‘fairytale sultanate’ mentioned by the narrator at the end of the video. If we apply a semiotic approach, the pragmatics encoded on the term fairytale means being in a fictitious, magical and highly fanciful story. It is this predetermined or presupposed meaning embedded in any set of signs that provides the intertextual knowledge for the audience. Thus, this gives the viewer the idea that Brunei is truly a kingdom of unexpected treasure.

Now, let’s examine a much different medium.

The photo above shows the Brunei Tourism advertisement poster; hence the genre: tourism advertisement. Again by applying the semiotics approach, it demonstrates that the word play of a few vowels and consonants being filled with vibrant colors of signs are very well presented. They filled in images within each letters because it helps with memory. According to Jerome Bruner educational psychologist of New York University, he found out that a person’s brain only can remember ten percent of what they hear, thirty percent of what they read but significantly eighty percent of what they see or do (Bruner, 2006) . These individual signs were chosen because it relates very much to the country Brunei. It represents Brunei’s rich malay culture and its lavished greeneries.   

In conclusion, it is clear that narrative can be presented through various mediums. I believe narrative is realized in many of the media context due to its importance when shaping visual images to a diverse audience. After writing this, I have established a basis of the power of visual narrative in different media context.

Works Cited

Bruner, J. (2006). A brave new (visual) world . In P. Paul Martin Lester, Syntactic Theory of Visual Communication. Fullerton California.

Fisher, W. Narrative Paradigm. In E. Griffin, A first look at communication theory (pp. 298-299). New York, NY.: Frank Mortimer.

Huisman, R. (2005). Narrative concept. Cambridge University Press.

Lamarque, P. (1994). Narrative and Invention: The Limits of Fictionality. In N. C., Narrative in culture (pp. 131-132). New York and London: Routledge.

Lemon, N. (2006). Retrieved october 7th, 2010, from Using Visual Narrative for reflection:

narrative. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2010, from

Narrative Theory: A Brief Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved october 7th, 2010, from

Sunday, September 12, 2010

week 6: The ancient art of rhetoric and persuasion.

The distinctiveness of Camel no.9 (pink and black campaign) has swayed the youth especially girls of age 12 to 16 according to the statistics found in Pediatrics. As you can see in the magazine ad, it is bordered by hot-pink fuchsia or minty-green teal that specify independent flavors complemented by the flowers around the cigarette packs with ‘light and luscious’  as their fancy slogan. This cigarette brand has definitely embedded femininity on it which creates an ideology for young teens.

David Howard stated that this ad was geared only for adults since Tobacco companies took part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement as to exclude kids as their target audience. However, according to Cheryl Healton (president of anti-smoking group the American Legacy Foundation), she asserted that this cigarette brand has far more appeal to younger girls.

This ad is very much persuasive itself because initially, Tobacco Industry aim was only to convince smokers to switch brand. In spite of this, it has drawn in non-smokers as well.

Co-author John Pierce of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California-San Diego.
 “Being able to remember a tobacco ad shows that kids are taking an interest in cigarettes. Non-smoking teens who can name a favorite ad are 50% more likely to begin smoking than other kids.”

Rhetorical scholars had lean closer to focusing on style rather than the content. From what I can deduce, Tobacco Company is trying to target a wider audience with its subtle argument. The inductive argument of its slogan, style and smart packaging all contributes to a hidden agenda that says “It’s more than just a cigarette, it’s all wrapped up nicely, cool and hip just for you, so take a puff.” This is also known as enthymemes.

Because of this, the number of women diagnosed with cancer has skyrocketed according to statistics. Thus, this show how powerful visual rhetoric can be as it influences one’s beliefs.