Visual Messages

The International Journal of Communication, Volume 10, 2016 has two insightful pieces for those interested in how mass audiences are influenced by campaign and news images:

Fonts of Potential: Areas for Typographic Research in Political Communication

Photojournalism: A Social Semiotic Approach

As noted in the above article and book review, visual shapes illustrate emotions, and merge with verbal meanings to create a holistic rhetorical message. Through the manipulation of simple shapes into a typopictorial design, and consequently the activation of existing mental associations, logos communicate prosperity, hope, and ideas that are relevant to people.

Press photographs have a narrative structure, and are part of an interactional system involving the relationship between the image, viewers, and the participants represented in the image. The compositional system involves framing, salience, and the reading path of the image.

In this structure, the nucleus includes the heading, the image, and a prosodic tail. The heading often relies on wordplay, calling on experiences of the reader to decode, while the image tends to depict represented participants in an eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing manner. The satellite is the caption text that consists of the experiential orientation and the contextual extension. The experiential orientation functions to clarify and sharpen our understanding of the image, while the contextual extension aims to extend beyond what is needed for readers to understand the image

Turning Things Around

We now have three generations of Americans who came of age during major political scandals in the White House: Watergate (Richard M. Nixon), Iran-Contra (Ronald W. Reagan), and the Plame affair (George W. Bush). The last generation to come of age during a White House administration that worked for Main Street rather than Wall Street (Franklin D. Roosevelt) is fading fast.

The benefits we take for granted today, i.e. Social Security, Food Stamps and Medicare, came out of the New Deal programs of Roosevelt’s presidency.

Those benefits, however, were not a gift from the U.S. Government; they were, rather, an achievement by the American people, through organized efforts to confront Wall Street in Congress and in every state and city across the country, where millions suffered the indignity of poverty during the Great Depression, caused by the financial elite. Turning things around today requires no less.

Netizen News

Free to Expose Corruption, International Journal of Communication 2016, examines the impact of media freedom, internet access, and governmental online service delivery on corruption. With the caveat that corrupt regimes have learned to use the Internet to their advantage, the authors note that blogs, citizen journalism, and social networking sites (SNS) “produce the type of content that is necessary for accomplishing the social functions formerly filled by newspapers”.

Backpage Sex Trade

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and controlling shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin were charged with conspiracy to commit pimping using classified ads. The investigation, prompted by reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “found that many of the ads for prostitution services involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18.” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that Backpage was designed as an online brothel.

Naqab Nakba

Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir, reviewed by Sarah Irving for Electronic Intifada, is the story of exile by a refugee from the fertile plains of the Naqab, where his family’s fields were plowed by camel. As the son of a paramount chief of the Tarabin Bedouin, Salman Abu Sitta attended university in Cairo, but recalls the attack on his father’s home and the Israeli massacres in Gaza.

Green Party Delusions

The irony of Kevin Gosztola’s satire on Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is that it isn’t. He may very well think so, but the reality is that Stein–like former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader–is running a campaign that benefits the Republican candidate. Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, despite her serious flaws, because he understands the consequences of putting a white nationalist supporter in the Oval Office. Gosztola apparently doesn’t.

Human Extinction

The October 22, 2013 FRONTLINE special Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria makes it clear there is no turning back the clock; the age of antibiotics is coming to an end. Human misuse of antibiotics and the evolution of bacteria spell the collapse of public health in the 21st Century, and the eventual extinction of the human species. The acceleration of this pandemic — due to collapsing societies deliberately destroyed by international institutions and transnational markets for ideological and monetary reasons — makes it impossible to control. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (1995) documented the crisis. Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (2001) exposed the failure of the UN and World Health Organization to address it.

Alliance vs Tar Sands

The First Nations Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion–signed by 50 Indigenous nations in Vancouver and Quebec on September 22–opposes TransCanada, Kinder Morgan, and Enbridge pipeline projects in their traditional territories. As reported in the National Observer, the treaty builds on “major First Nations victories” against the Northern Gateway project and Keystone XL pipeline.

Omitted in the article, however, is any mention of the fact that the deciding factor of Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL is that it pitted Canadian Alberta Tar Sands oil against US-produced Bakken crude, made possible by his approval of fracking on millions of acres in North Dakota. The resulting glut of oil, which overwhelmed Gulf Coast storage capacity, made it possible for Obama’s advisor Warren Buffett to corner the oil-by-rail market now threatening the Pacific Coast of Northwest Washington and Southwest British Columbia.

Inter-Cultural Understanding

Social conflict begins with the communication of competing ideas. Storytelling is the medium where these conflicting narratives are introduced to mass audiences.

In the interest of inter-cultural understanding, Public Good Project has archived information, intelligence and interventions that exemplify this art of Netwar (networked psychological warfare).

In 2007, 2014 and 2016, the Public Good network intervened in three social conflicts–one at the Golden Gate, one in the Big Apple, and one at Cherry Point. Links to articles about these conflicts and others are contained in our Netwar Reader.