Climate Change Photographs in Online Newspapers: A Gender Representation Perspective
Background: Climate change has emerged as the most pressing concern for humankind, given the rapidly depleting natural resources and burgeoning issues of pollution and waste posing grave threat to the planet’s survival. News media bear the onus of not only reporting on climate change to spread awareness, but they’re in fact educators for a large part of the population. Photographs embedded in news stories have a profound effect on the audiences in that they immediately reduce the distance between the readers and ground zero.
Objective: The present study has been designed to conduct a visual content analysis of photographs incorporated in climate change news stories in mainstream online newspapers in India. Online newspapers have been incorporated owing to the growing propensity of a large populace to receive their news through digital devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets. SIt would help in examining the climate change imagery being employed by the online newspapers, which goes a long way in shaping readers’ perceptions about the burning issue.
Methodology: The newspapers chosen are the online editions of The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, and The Times of India, keeping in view their wide reach and popularity. The newspapers are scanned for climate change stories over a period of two months (December 2020 and January 2021) with the accompanying photograph each the news story as the unit of analysis. The stories with key words ‘climate’, ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in the headline or lead paragraph were selected for data collection.
The corpus of images thus obtained is quantified and analyzed to ascertain the depiction of gender in terms of activity. Further, the data is scrutinized from several perspectives, ranging from analysing gender representation in the stories from various sources (internal staff, or national/international news agencies) to the spectrum of topics covered.
Implications: The study follows a unique approach as it inspects gender portrayal along several dimensions not undertaken hitherto by any other study. It would be pertinent to understand the visual representation of gender in people’s daily dose of online news, which has strong agenda-setting influences on the society.
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