4.4 Newspapers

Exercise 4.4: Newspapers

Brief: Over the space of a few weeks gather newspapers that you can cut up, preferably including a mixture of different political points of view. Have a look through and cut out some images without their captions. You could choose advertising images or news.

For each image, write three or four different captions that enable you to bend the image to different and conflicting points of view.

What does this tell you about the power of text and image combinations?

Now write some text that re-contextualises these images and opens them up to alternative interpretations.

Write some notes in your learning log about this exercise. How might you use what you’ve learnt to add a new dimension to your own words

1. Images and captions and reflections on the power of text and images

1.1 British Medical Journal front cover

The article referred to in this research picture and research journal is about the consequences of inadequate investment in mental health and community services in the UK so that the police pick up and detain more people who are mentally ill: this is a care-less government. The very strong black text (black being negative or serious) with red heading in capitals (signifying alarm) anchor the image to a particular interpretation; ‘Concern about police mental health arrests and detentions.’ The image of the policeman suggests indifference or defensiveness; the police are known for their slowness at admitting responsibility for their mistakes.

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1.2 BMJ News article

This heading and image refer to the threat to foreign workers in the NHS from Brexit. The use of exit and Brexit has become a common cliche paring but it still catches the eye in  the this post 27/7. The green scrubs are an NHS uniform and colour (green suggest calm and safety). The folded stethoscope says that this is a doctor, nurse or health care assistant. The folded arms suggest containment and control.

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1.3 The Observer advert

This is the image of the CEO of an Australian wine company. It was on the reverse of the cover and opposite the contents. The tilted wine glass suggests examining and tasting the wine – in judgement, and that judgement is that this is a quality, fine wine. He smiles, as do the highlights in his eyes, as he savours the wine. He is dressed in black jacket and formal shirt. The caption confirms this impression and adds little to the image as we know this is a fine wine.

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2. Re-contextulising of images

2.1 British Medical Journal front cover

I was struck by the defensiveness of the posture and its ‘facelessness.’ This is the feature of modern policing. He is equipped with cuffs, spray and tamer to deal with ‘serious’ crime but low scale crime is low priority. I naively asked a policeman the way in a Soho; he told me that was not his job and walked away. The police are often in their cars and not in their localities.

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2.2 BMJ News article

I think that there is a dissonance between the saccharin images of doctors presented in the media and the reality that many doctors and health care workers experience working day-to-day. I recently joined a national workshop looking at addictions in doctors. One of the participants who has a senior role training 500 professionals talked about the NHS being an ‘abusive system.’ I normally work 12 hours a day and no doctors have applied for our practice vacancy – we are one doctor down. The treatment I am referring to in my text is of health care professionals not patients.

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1.3 The Observer advert

This advert really annoyed me! It’s that shirt and the pretentiousness of the whole wine tasting world. Most people who buy fine wine are wealthy, such as bankers or hedge fund managers. The cave I am referring to is the wine cellar or in French ‘cave.’ It is a smug self-satisfied look.

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3. Learning from this exercise

I have done this exercise before on another OCA module. My own heading came easily. I could have written several variations on these theme. I not that my heading are ironic and anchor my images to a particular interpretation.