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Chapter 5 (part 1)

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

Chapter 5 (part 1) Chapter 5 part 1

Comments and Discussion:

Add comments, notes and translations here.


Iza: about "Presidential death".

I think that funerals of presidents are always widely described by newspapers, and every time they evoke strong emotions in society. However, funerals of other important people like Princess Diana (1997) and John Paul II (2005) had great repercussions, and not only in the media, because they caused people to reflect on the future, as much as did presidential deaths or perhaps even more.



Iza: about “Pictures and Journalistic”.

I think that the introduction of photos into newspapers in early period did not mean that there was no longer any need to write detailed descriptions of some phenomena.

I mean that the picture helped describe phenomena but still did not play the main role, and there was demand of reliable journalist writing.


Today we are overwhelmed by photos. This abundance has advantages and disadvantages. We live very fast so we do not have much time for reading, and so people do not read at all. Watching pictures takes less time – consumers and busy people can receive news very quickly by this simple means. On the other hand, watching pictures makes us more lazy – it is easier to watch than to overstrain one's brain by receiving and memorizing information.


However, in both cases we have to be very careful, because writing can be as subjective as showing "pure" photos. Could everything depend only on the intention of journalist ?


Kevin: An excellent question. Does it all depend on journalists' intentions? My guess is that very little of what journalists do is intentional, that is, purposive action that results from plans and reflection. Journalists work quickly and, once they have some experience, fairly automatically. They reproduce professional routines they pick up wordlessly by following or imitating fellow journalists, or verbally from the reactions of co-workers and the (usually vague) criticisms of editors. In other words, it doesn't depend on their intentions, but their subjectivity is another matter. Everything journalists do filters through their experience (as well as professional training), and so they are authors of it all, pictures as well as texts, layouts, logos, headlines, and the rest.


One other comment on Iza's thoughts: When writers use the first person plural (us, we, our) , whom are they referring to?



Lorenzo: about “The Verbal Reports” which is missing here as title but not in the book.

It is interesting to see the changes from early reporting as detailed description of the events, so that “readers could place themselves at the scene of the action”. I understand how, with photojournalism, the description became formless and later, in the 60’s, newspapers yielded the breaking news function to TV. It is more difficult for me to understand the “new analysis”. What does it mean in other words “supply the tools to readers to imagine the truth behind the facts”. That function was included in the old style or it is something completely new? It looks like the old style covered already the two modern functions described: one is the actual function of photos (physical appearance) and the second is the modern verbal structure. Does it make sense?


Kevin: 19th century U.S. newspapers shared the cultural assumption that news events were an account of what happened. If there was a political agenda, it was announced in advance. In that sense, finding the truth behind the facts was new in the 20th century, just as finding the emotional lives of presidents was new. Both occurred in an era when psychology was discovering the unconscious and physics was proposing structures beyond even the aided vision of the microscope.


The first machine patented in the United States that showed animated pictures or movies was a device called the "wheel of life" or "zoopraxiscope". Patented in 1867 by William Lincoln, moving drawings or photographs were watched through a slit in the zoopraxiscope. However, this was a far cry from motion pictures as we know them today. Modern motion picture making began with the invention of the motion picture camera.

The zoopraxiscope, invented by British photographer Eadweard Muybridge and first shown in 1879, was a primitive version of later motion picture devices which worked by showing a sequence of still photographs in rapid succession


The portable camera was the first tool of the photojournalists.


Halftone translates the countinuous tones of the photograph into solid blacks and whites. It was the tool of newspaper publishers.


There are 3 periods in the technology of the pictures:

1) typographic culture, when pictures were understood as versions of piantings and resisted their entry into news pages.

2) graphic newspaper, where the pictures were equal with the text parts.

3) modern photojournalism, when pictures gained the status of content.


The presidential deaths occured at regular intervals. Why?


Kevin: As we discussed in class, this was a quirk of history, a useful one for our purposes, but a quirk nonetheless.


When occurs a presidential death, newspapers consider it as a historical moment but also as a great gap in the history of a country. The news of the death is the biggest news imaginable.


Each presidential death is represented as a scene where we can identify some actors as:

* the grieving widow

* the team of doctors

* the cabinet (which is the group of sitting ministers, called secretaries in U.S. government)

* a successor


When a president is assasinated, a crisis arises in the country: the people have doubts about their security and the continuity of the nation.



Marco: About Photojournalism

I agree whith Iza, now people prefer to "see" news instead of "reading" them. But I think, even though times changed and technology prevailed, that the aim is the same: just to put the reader "into the fact." That's why - talking about shocking events like a president's death - old newspapers described the "fact itself" (and not just the news item) and today newspapers use texts just as big captions.


I think that journalists play a main role in today’s news. They choose what information give to us and what pictures and videos use to pass this information. They try to manipulate people working on personal feelings, especially as regards shocking events like someone’s death.



Barbara: about Presidential Death

I completely agree with Iza. I think the President death represents a great and special moment in the history of a century. The event motivates reflection on the past, present and future, as well.


I remember when the Pope Giovanni Paolo II dead last year, more than two million pilgrims were expected in Rome, they came oll over the world. It was an international funeral. TV and radio interrupted daily programmes to give more space to the events. Journalists tried to capture every moment of the funeral.












Pictures & Journalistic Values, 1881-1963

Unlike the illustrated weeklies invented to focus on the particular strengths of and enthusiasm for pictures, American daily newspapers followed a long-standing tradition built on a foundation of text. In typographic journalism, pictures were interlopers. Their entry into daily news is usually retold as a battle to overcome technical barriers, in which photojournalism comes out triumphant. Viewed from another perspective, the entry of pictures occurred in parallel with other shifts in form and meaning for news reporting and for newspapers. Although not usually viewed this way, the triumph of picture journalism also points to broader changes in American culture.


In this chapter, we propose a close examination of news reports and pictures over time to trace the changes in text as photojournalism took control. Did reporters turn away from some tasks, such as detailed visual description, as photographs began to take over that function? To answer that question, this chapter explores the role of visual information from the perspectives of both text and pictures. It tracks the various trends and phases in the introduction of pictures and examines the mutual redefinition of picture and text as one aspect of the development of professional journalism.


News pictures

The history of news pictures has had many retellings, principally by photojournalists themselves but also by art historians and critics and as a footnote to larger histories of photography. We have summarized these elsewhere (Barnhurst, 1994). The most common account foregrounds technology, the slow progress of inventors and scientists toward two creations: the portable camera and the halftone. A small camera capable of working at high speed with ambient light became the prime tool of the photojournalist. The halftone, as a physical means to translate the continuous tones of the photograph into solid blacks and whites, became the tool of newspaper publishers. In this story, all roads lead to modern photojournalism. The visual side of the press goes largely ignored before the two technologies of pictures emerged; pre-photographic visual reproduction is viewed as a stunted or embryonic stage of photojournalism.


A more-sensitive telling identifies three periods. The first was typographic culture, in which newspaper editors misunderstood pictures as versions of paintings and resisted their entry into news pages (Hicks, 1952). To be reproduced, images first had to be remade by engravers, who inhabited a stratum below painters in the hierarchy of pictorial art.


The second period accompanied the emergence of the graphic newspapers, such as the Mirror in London, the Daily Graphic in New York, and ABC in Madrid, around the turn of the century. Daily journalism of the era established a sort of apartheid, in which text and pictures co-existed as separate but (perhaps) equal content (Baynes, 1971). During this period halftones became a practical reality, although the pictures usually could capture only a single shot of static scenes or people in stiff poses (as the large cameras and explosive flashes required). For publication, pictures were corralled into their own neighborhoods by mounds of frothy lines, borders, and decorations.


Modern photojournalism, the third period, emerged by the 1930s as pictures gained the status of content, fully integrated into the journalistic enterprise. Newspapers bragged about their pictures, the latest and newest, in the same way they trumpeted their news scoops. New cameras allowed candid photography to capture action and emotion, and these became the primary values of news pictures (Szarkowski, 1966). The photograph gained respect as seemingly objective documents, and editors would no longer permit retouching or decorating the image. Press photography acquired an aura of objectivity, as if it were unauthored.


We speculate that the development of news pictures had an impact on textual journalism. As photojournalists came to depict events in apparent immediacy, they may have deprived reporters of some authorial functions, freeing them for other tasks. This chapter seeks to explore the relationship between text and image. Did verbal descriptions of scenes, actors, and events decline as news photography emerged and acquired the capability to show places and persons in action? Did the forms and styles of presentation of pictures also evolve in relation to changes in verbal reporting?


News pictures developed in markets where two broad categories of daily newspapers reigned. Typically, pictures were introduced into a particular market by an innovative newspaper, often a start-up, often part of a chain (the Hearst newspapers were especially important). These pioneers were often more demotic in character than their older competitors. The competitors would respond to the invasion of the market by adopting some of the techniques of the invader and adjusting some of their other practices. They might, for example, begin to use pictures and then slowly adjust their reportage.


To observe both sides of journalism over time, we selected one from each category of daily newspaper: the inevitable New York Times and the more interesting Chicago Daily News. The Times, once even grayer, was notable for completeness of coverage as well as for stylistic conservatism. The Daily News, somewhat less voluminous, was more innovative, especially in illustrations. It was demotic, whereas the Times aimed for an elite readership. Any patterns of change common to these contrasting newspapers likely occurred elsewhere as well.


Presidential deaths

We chose to examine news coverage of presidential deaths in office, an opportune choice because such deaths occurred at regular intervals: James A. Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901, Warren G. Harding in 1922, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and John F. Kennedy in 1963. Unlike inaugurations and other political or state occasions that have been studied (Schudson, 1982), presidential deaths come closer to a core definition of news: the unexpected and startling as against the routine.


Choosing to examine the deaths of presidents avoided the difficulty of considering the truthfulness and reliability of the reports. The Victorian newspaper paid little attention to sources, attribution, and verifiability. Reporters sometimes told stories as if they'd witnessed them when they had not. They did not hold modern notions of objectivity based on facts. But when a president dies, journalists confront events of great historical moment, much too important to treat lightly or with too much invention, regardless of their practices for less important stories.


The death of a sitting president, this biggest news imaginable, inspires the most comprehensive reporting by the best available correspondents and artists, who cover developments in the greatest possible detail. At the same time, the deaths occur on what might be described as a beat - and the most important one at that. The news media are sure to be there ahead of time, resources in place to cover events fully.


In another sense deaths in office might seem a counterintuitive example for examining change. The oldest, most senior staffers would also be the least likely to adopt new styles and definitions of reporting. Subject matter of such weight and seriousness would tend to dampen innovation, encouraging reporters to resort to the tried-and-true. As news events, the deaths provide the most understated, conservative estimate of the process of change.


Reporting on presidential deaths is highly comparable over a long period. Events follow a standard story line. Each death, whether by assassination or by natural causes, features similar characters: a grieving widow, a team of doctors, a cabinet, a successor. Each puts these characters through similar paces: the swearing in of the successor, an elaborate funeral, the journey to a final resting place. Each death motivates reflection on the past - the dead president's career and previous presidential deaths - as well as anticipation for changes in the personnel and policies of the federal government. Each offers the occasion for representing the people: the people in the business districts of cities, hearing and telling the news; the people bordering the streets to witness the procession; the people lining the railroad tracks to watch the funeral train go by; the people pausing in the middle of their daily routines, stunned by grief, eager to touch greatness, morbid with desire to see the presidential corpse.


In sum, the death of a president is shocking and devastating. It happens at the epicenter of journalism, raising all sorts of fears and doubts about the security of society and the continuity of the nation. It demands a seriousness and thoroughness from journalists, who record each detail as faithfully as possible, fully conscious of history. The event follows consistent dramatic tableaux. It is unmatched as a moment to contemplate the meanings, purposes, and definitions of journalism.


Our study focuses narrowly on the life of each story, from the first report of the president in danger to the “final resting place.” In the case of Garfield, that was too long. Months of inept doctoring intervened between his shooting by disgruntled office-seeker Charles Guiteau and his actual death. Fortunately, as newspapers grew thicker and more fulsome, the story's life got briefer. FDR and JFK died suddenly and were buried quickly.


Even in a study limited to two newspapers over relatively short periods of time at roughly twenty year intervals, a mountain of coverage remained. Our final analysis included more than a thousand pages of text and hundreds of images. We entered the material from two perspectives, through text and images. Through the images, we examined the trajectory of form over the period and across the presentation of the emerging stock narrative of events. This perspective revealed the ways pictures interacted with the surrounding text. Through the text, we examined recurring visual motifs in the stories themselves. These motifs led back to the images as the relationship of text to pictures changed over time and between newspapers.

the verbal reports


At the outset, the variety of description and relation was all relatively lay. The reporter aimed to describe events so that readers could place themselves at the scene of the action. Reporters tended to notice things a reader would notice and find significant, and they tried to convey the emotional force of these significant details. Reports of presidential deaths emphasized dramaturgy, demeanor, and visual detail. Long narratives were frequently constructed like scenes from a contemporary novel, with extended descriptions of the faces and emotional states of key figures and lengthy catalogs of, say, the people present at a scene or the floral arrangements around the catafalque. One particular way of relating detail, walking description, gave an account of the visual impact of a scene as told by an observer strolling around it. This form was used, for instance, to describe the mourning scenes in city streets.


Over time, much of this initial repertoire fell into disuse. Detailed descriptions of floral arrangements became redundant in the age of the photograph, as did descriptions of the emotional state of the widow. Dramaturgy and walking description, along with the stance of the author, declined as well. These narrative modes did not advance the new role that reporters adopted.


For a time, breaking news became formless. In some New York Times reporting and much of the Chicago Daily News coverage by the turn of the century, breaking stories consisted simply of a pile of Associated Press bulletins arranged in reverse chronological order (Figure 5.1). One example concerning McKinley's “sinking spell” entered into the lore of the Times: Tommy Bracken, a night clerk working in the newsroom long after the reportorial staff had left the building, put together an overnight report from the wire service dispatches. “Tommy and the composing room and the pressroom crews worked until daylight, adding A.P. matter as fast as it came in. They put out three editions, all told, before sunup” (Berger, 1951, p. 141). The anecdote illustrates a relatively unedited manner of reporting breaking news, a raw updating that disappeared into television coverage in the 1960s, as newspapers yielded the function of alerting the people.



Instead, reporters increasingly turned to news analysis. They probed the implications of events surrounding the death of the president, usually by means of quoting experts or officials. Such news often used the future tense and typically ran under a byline. The story engaged readers not by putting them at the scene of action but by supplying the tools needed to imagine the truth behind the facts, the structure underlying action. The photographer took on other tasks: describing physical appearances, conveying emotional states, and supplying dramaturgy. These all share the present tense. Photography also took on much of the memory function of news, crystallizing current events - abbreviating them for memory - but also relating past events (merely by reprinting).

Comments (2)

Anonymous said

at 2:39 pm on May 7, 2006

I have translated Chapter 5 part 1 which you could find on the new page I created. I hope it will be useful for everybody.

Anonymous said

at 6:21 pm on May 15, 2006

Pictures in news are very important, infact it history was going on from photojournalists, art historians and critics, but it became more important when were invent the portable camera and halftone. The first one is a small camera that permitted to work at high speed with particoular light. Instead halftone, that is a scale of black and white, became important in newspapers published. Likely from this moment the press wasn't ingored.
This story is formed by three periods:
- In the first period the culture was typographic: the editors use pictures like version of painting.
- The second one was very important for halftones because became a reality.
- The third period is called "Modern photojournalism" that emerged in 1930s in which pictures has a status of content.
This type of camera chatching action and emotion, editors would no longer permit retouching and decorate image: have an impact on text; journalists can use picture to adjust their reportage.

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