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The iconic image in a digital age: editorial mediations over the Alan Kurdi photographs

Mortensen, Mette, Allan, Stuart ORCID: and Peters, Chris 2017. The iconic image in a digital age: editorial mediations over the Alan Kurdi photographs. Nordicom Review 38 (s2) , pp. 71-86. 10.1515/nor-2017-0415

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This article investigates selected newspapers’ editorial mediations over contrasting perceptions regarding the significance of a controversial set of “iconic” news photographs, namely images of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, whose drowned corpse washed ashore in September, 2015. Specifically, this study examined individual editorial items, published by leading Danish, Canadian and British newspapers over a four-month period, engaging with and reflecting upon this imagery. Our analysis revealed several key deliberative features of editorial self-reflexivity, with three especially salient themes shown to be emergent across the coverage: a) instantaneousness and historical photographic precedents; b) social media’s perceived influence on photojournalism; and c) normative associations of affective qualities for this imagery. By elucidating these features of editorial self-reflexivity within a convergent digital media ecology, this article offers original insights into how and why the epistemic values governing visual communication are being reconsidered and redrawn under pressure from institutional imperatives.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alan Kurdi, editorials, iconic images, photojournalism, refugee crisis, social media,
Additional Information: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0
Publisher: De Gruyter Open / Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research (Nordicom)
ISSN: 2001-5119
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2017
Date of Acceptance: 24 June 2017
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 08:34

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