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Images- the Invisible Text in Newspapers

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Images- the Invisible Text in NewspapersImages

    Images- the Invisible Text in Newspapers 29卷第2

    20084

    宁夏师范学院(社会科学)

    Journ~ofNingxiaTeachersUniversity(SocialScience)

    Vo1.29,No.2

    Apr.2008

    ImagestheInvisibleTeXt

    byMaHui

    inNewspapers

    (CollegeofhumanitiesinNingxiaUniversity,NingxiaYinchuan750021)

    I.Introduction

    Althoughaclearconceptofideologyhasneverbeenagreedupon,itcallbedefiedinaneutralway

    thatissupposedtodescribe'systemofthought'or'systemofbelief'or'symbolicsystems'pertaining

    tosocialactionorpoliticalpractice.(KevinWilliams,2003)Basedonthis,itismucheasiertoanalyze

    theinteractionbetweenideologyandmedia.Thatistosay,ideologyistheopinionbehindthemedia

    textandthesecretagendaofitsproducers.Oncesuchhiddenmeaningisacceptedas'natural'or 'reality'bytheaudience,itwillaffecttheirviewpointstoagreatextentaccordingcertainthings.As

    oneoftheimportantmethodofmassmedia,imagesareusedtopresentthelatentmeaningofthe producerthroughreportinganddescribingnewsstories.Astheyarethekeytextsinanyresearching

    ofthewayinwhichideologyworks,inthisarticle,1wouldliketoidentifyideologyinanalyzin

gsome

    particularimagesrelatingtothesamekindofstory.Inaddition,semioticanalysiswillbeusedto

    showwhatisimplicitinmasscommunicationandmakeitexplicitinacertainculturalbackground.

    II.LiteratureReview

    Ideologyinvolvesmeaningsandstoriesthatembodyclaimsaboutwhetherthingsareofpositive

    ornegativevalue.Inthecaseofthecommunicationsthatareengagedinbythenewsmedia,the portrayalsoractsofimageconstructioninstoriestypicallyaffecttheopinionsofaudiences. InMediaStudies:theEssentialResource,PhilipRayner,PeterWallandStephenKruger(2004)

    broughttogetherawiderangeofmaterialssuchasimagesandadvertisementstoacademicarticles.

    Inaddition,theoriesrelatingtomediasuchasideologyaredeeplyanalyzedtosupportandexplain

    howtheyaffecttheopinionsofaudiencesinmasscommunication.Forexample,inChapterOne,in

    ordertounderstandhowimageswork,theysuggested,"Akeyiteminastudent'sanalyticaltoolkit

    isagraspofsemiotoics."(P.10)Thus,"Itisnecessarytodevelopallawarenessofthewayinwhich

    semioticanalysisshowsushowmeaningiscreated."(P.10)

    NickStevenson(1995)helpedustofindtherelationshipbetweenmasscommunicationandsocial

    theory.Throughrecognizingthethreemainparadigmsinadvance,suchasMarxismandHabermas,

    hestressedtheimportantofthepublicsphereandtheformationofdemocraticsocialidentities. JustaswhathedebatedinhisworkcalledUnderstandingMediaCultures,"Thesystemofmass communication,inademocraticsociety,shouldallowfortheprovisionofawiderangeofenter

tainment

    andpoliticalinformation.Thisrequirespluralcultureformstomeettheneedsandwantsofadiverse

    citizenry."(P.209).Therefore,thisrelationshiponlybecomesobjectionableifcertainsocialgroup

    sharesthesameinformation.And"theseinformationalandsemioticformscanbesatisfiedboth

2ByMaHui:Images'.——TheInvisibleTextinNewspapers121

    commerciallyandthroughmorepublicformsofprovision."(P.209)

    Intheeaseofthenewsmedia,ideologyisembeddedineverythingitdoes,intheformofthe implicitclaimsitmakesaboutthenatureandvalidityofitsenterprise.andthereasonsithasfor variouskindsofaction.Alltheseclaims,together,formacoherentideologythatprotectsthenews

    media'sprerogativesandposition.

    SuchtheoryandsupportedissuescanbefoundinMediaMaking,writtenbyLawrenceGrossberg,

    EllenWartellaandD.CharlesWhitney(1998).Focusingonexploringthevarietyofwaysinwhich

    mediamakingwasinvolvedoursociallives,theydevotedtofindingthedifferentrelationshipbetween

    themediaandthesystemsofsocialvalue.Amongtheissuestheyargued,themostusefulinformation

    ealTlefrompart2ofthebook,whichlookedathowthemediaproducemeaningfulmessagesandhow

    peopleinterpretthemtomakesenseoftheirlives,experienceandtopresenttheworldtheylive. HereweresomepointstheydiscussedinChapter7,themediamakemeaningsandorganizethem

    intovariouscodesandsystems."(P.178)Butideologyshouldalwaysbeunderstoodinthefactors,

    which"involveswaysofrepresenting,seeing,andthinkingaboutreality."(P.183) Therefore,imageswithcharacteristicsthatarevaluedordevaluedornegativelyvaluedareper

    meatedbyemotion.Thesearea'tmerelycognitiveprocessesthatevokeemotions.Theemotionsare

    themselves,apartoftheimage,sinceallimagesultimatelyappearonlyaspartofourmentalstates

    andperceptions.Imageconstructionthusinvolvescreatingapositiveornegativeimageofsomeone

    orsomething,creditingordiscreditingbyreferringtothelocationofactionsandattributesinbinary

    pairsofvalue,allofwhichhasitseffectbyevokingreactionsfromaudiences.Thosebooksmentioned

    abovehelpmetosetupthetheoryframeworkformyresearchprojectandprovideusefulpoints. ?.Methodology

    Becauseimagesarelookedassings,andthroughtheirsystemsofcodesareapowerfulcarrier ofideology,itislookedasoneofthekeyconceptsofmediaresearches.Thatmeansimagescanbe

    regardedasthekeytextsinanalyzinghowideologyworksinmediapractice.Theseideologicalor

    mythicmeaningsalwayslooktobeverycommon.soitissometimesdi

    culttofindoutandidentify

    them.Becauseofthis,itismucheasiertoidentifytheideologyatworkincertainimagesifwelook

    atsuchexamplesfromparticularculturalscopes.

    Inordertoexploresomanyvisualsignsthatconstitutemediatexts,itisimportanttouse themethodofsemioticanalysisaswel1asafunetiona1vocabularyofsemioticsterms.Herewe

    shouldneedanotherconcept--semiotics.Semioticsisawaybasedontheunderlyingstructureofsign

    systemsenablingustotalkabouthowtextsareconstructedinordertomakingmeaning.Infact, theunderlyingstructureisconcernedwithhowasigncanbeseenasacombinationofasignifier,the

    physicalrepresentationofasign(suchasaspokenorwrittenword,orasymbo1),andasignified,which

    isthementalconceptormeaningconveyedbythesignifier.(LawrenceGrossberg,EllenWartellaand

    D.CharlesWhitney,1998)Thatmeans,signifierreferstothedescription,however,signifiedisthe

    representationofsomethingelsethatimplicateinthetexts.Basedonthis,inthefollowingexamples,

    thesignificanceofsemioticsandstructuralinrelationtonewspaperimagesinmyresearchwillbe

    explainedinthesemioticway..

    2005istheyearwhentherewerealotofminedisastershappenedinChina.Mostofthenewspa- persreportedaboutthistopic,however,differentimageswereusedtodescribetheminedisastersand

122宁夏师范学院(社会科学)?

    29

    revealtheiropinionsbydifferentnewspapers.Theimagesinthefollowingarecollectedfromdifferent

    typesofnewspapersinChinabothstateonesandlocalones.Herewecanusesemioticssystemsto

    analyzetheseimagessothatwecanexplorethemeanings,whicharehidingbehindthesurfaceand

    evaluatetheintentionofthosenewspapers.

    IV.DataAnalysis

    Newspapersareoftenregardedasakindofconveyorbeltofmeaningbetweentherealitiesand audiencesbyproducingimagesinrelationtothedebates,eventsorplaces.Althoughsomeme

dia

    insistthattheimagestheypresenttotheaudienceis'natural'and'obvious'andthemeaningsof representationsarenever'given'byoutsideopinions,thispointwillbecriticizedinthefollowing

    words.Semioticshasbeenenormouslyusefulinthinkingaboutthemajorsocialandculturalactivity

    ofmeaningmaking.Emphasizingthebroadculturalandsocialbackgroundformeaningtobeshaped,

    wecanunderstandtheoriginalideasofthemediaproducers.

    Aswecandefinesemioticsasthestudyofsigns,thatistosay,itcanalsobelookedasthesocial productionofmeaningbysignsystem,whichindicateshowthingscometohavesignification.Itis

    notonlyinrelationtosocial,butalsoinfluencedbyculture.Relyingonsuchtool,wecanbeginour

    researchonhowmeaningissociallystructuredthroughsetsofcodes,suchaslighting,cameraangle,

    color,distancefromsubject,kindoffocusandsoon(G.BranstonandR.Stafford,2003). ThefirstimagecomesfromXinHuaDaily,whichisoneofthebiggestnewsagenciescontrolledby

    thegovernment.Asthegovernment'sspeechorganization,themainpurposeofitistotellthepublic

    whatthegovernmenthasdoneforsuchminedisaster.Sotheimagefocusesonthemeetingheldby

    thedepartmentandthelocalgovernment,whichisaimingtoplantherescuingandinvestigation.

    Thephotographertookthepictureofleadershipswhoattendedtheconferenceandtheslogan directly.Theframingjustincludesthesloganonthetopandtheleadersinitscenterexactly.The nalTleofthedepartmentiswrittenbybiggerword

    typethantheothercharactersonthesloganthat

    indicatestherespectforthegovernmentandthoseleaders.Inaddition,asredhasgrandmeanin

g

    inChineseculture,thebackgroundofthesloganalsomeansimportance.Actually,formostChinese

    readerssuchcameraangleandcolorusedmayhaveseriousandsolemnsignification.Furthermore,

    fromtheimagewecanseethatthephotoistakeninashortdistanceandviewsthechairman's podiumhorizontally.Thatmeansthespaceoftheconferenceisnarrowandsmal1.Allofthesesignify

    thatthemeetingisconvenedintenseandhasty.Meanwhile,thesignificationofhowseriouslythe

    governmenttakestheminedisasterandhowefficientthegovernmentdealingwithitisexpressed

    enoughbythisimage.

    ThesecondimagecomesfromWenHuiDaily,whichisalocalnewspaperinHongKong.Com- paredwiththeformerone,itseemshumanizeandpopularize.Inaddition,itisdevotedtoexplorethe

    surfaceofthenewsstoryandisgoodatimplicatingit'sdiscoverintothetextandimageinorderto

    sharewiththeaudience.Facingsuchdisaster,theviewpointofthephotographerisworthpondering

    deeplythroughtheimagehetakes.

    Theimagedescribessomeoftherescuerswaitingattheentranceofthemine.Thereisnoeye contactwiththecamerasothatwecanseetheexpressionofthem.Theyaretalkingaboutsomething.

    Mostofthemlookanxiousandabitimpatient.Oneofthemevenwalkingalongthegateandlooking

    inside.Fromthedarkbackgroundwecaninferthatitisnightatthattime.Furthermore,thelights

2ByMaHui:Images?-——TheInvisibleTextinNewspapers123

    therearedim,whichindicatesthelow-spiritedatmosphere.Theyallhaveaseatthatmeanstheyhave

    waitedthereforalongtime.Thissignifiesthattherescueworkinsidedoesn'tcarryonsmoothly.In

    fact,thefourredChinesecharactersprintedontopoftheentrancehasmostsatiresignification.In

    Englishtheymeansafeproduction,whileitisn'tsafeindeed,Relatingtotheotherminedisasters

    happenedthatyear,itiseasyforreaderstohavesuchquestion:whatonearthcausesuchdisasters?

    Theanswerisobviouslyreferringtothedepartmentthatcontrolsthesafetyofmineshastotakethe

    primaryresponsibility.Suchkindofblamingthegovernmentisreallyclever. Thethirdimagecomesfromarestrictedpublication,NewspaperofGanSuHospital,whichis authorizedbythelocalhospita1.Themajorpurposeofsuchkindofnewspaperistodisseminateand

    extolthespiritofprofessionthroughpublishingsomenewsstorieshappenedaroundtheminasmall

    scope-

    Thisimageisthecandidshotoftheprocessofrescuingthesurvivorintheminedisaster.It focusesonthedoctorandnurses,sowecan'tseethesituationofthesurvivor.Fromtheimagewecan

    seethatoneofthenursesfacingthelenshasalreadypreparedtheinjection.Theotheronewhoisthe

    nearesttothelenslookslikebegoingtogiveherahand.Thedoctorseemstotalktothethirdnurse.

    Infact,theirwhiteantisepticmasks,whitehats,whiteclothing,andtheirapparentobliviousnessto

    thecameraemphasizetheiranonymity.Allwhatwecanseeisurgentbutorderly.Perhapsthiso

pen

    spaceletsuswonderaboutthemandmakethemeasilytobereadas'whiteclothangel',whichisthe

    highestpraiseinChina.Thisisbetterthantheobviouslysignificationofethnic. Fromtheimagesanalyzedabove,wecanseethatideologiesaresystemsofpurposesofmedia, whichmanipulateimagestoexpresstheiropinionsinanimplicitway.Inaddition,thiswayalways

    structuredbythecertaincultures.Althoughnewsstoriesshouldbaseonthereality,peoplestillcan

    expressthembydifferentanglesofitinordertotellpublicwhathappenedintheirownways.Thatis

    tosay,eveninrelationtothesamenewsstory,differentnewspapersalwaysstructuredifferentimages

    tohinttheirideasin'realities'.Therefore,influencetheopinionofaudiencesbysuchshapedimages.

    V.Conclusion

    AsfarasIconcerned.wecanmaketheconclusionthatimagesarealwaysstructuredby ideologyintheparticularculturalenvironment.Althoughreportingtheminedisaster,different

    newspapersprovideddifferentimagesofjustcertainaspectsoftheeventtotheiraudiences.That

    meansdifferentaspectsoftherealitycanmakeushavedifferentopiniononeventhesamething.

    Throughanalyzingsuchimagessothatwecanhavethereorganizationonhowmeaningiscreated

    andstructuredbythecontrollingoftheideologiesmediaproducershold.Inaddition,wecanhave

    ideasonboththesignifiedandthesignifieroftheimagesbyusingthemethodofsemioticanalysis.

参考文献:

    [1]CarolArmstrong,ScenesInALibrary:ReadingThePhotographInTheBook,Massachusetts:TheMIT

    Press,1998.

    [2]G.BranstonandR.Stafford,TheMediaStudent'sBook,LandonandNewYork:Routledge,2003.

    [3]HongpengLiu,NewspaperofGanSuHospital,Novemver2005.

    [4]JianhuaZhao,Woman'sWeekend,27December2005.

    [5]KevinWilliams,UnderstandingMediaTheory,Landon:Arnold,2003. [责任编辑薛正斌】

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