The Visual Citizen in a Digital News Landscape

Stuart Allan, Chris Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article’s contribution to theory-building focuses on the everyday circumstances under which journalism encourages a civic gaze. Specifically, it elaborates our heuristic conception of the “visual citizen” to explore journalism’s mediation of a politics of seeing, paying particular attention to how and why renderings of in/visibility signify varied opportunities for civic engagement within digital news landscapes. In recognizing a distinction between direct and virtual witnessing, it establishes a conceptual basis for an inductive typology delineating interrelated, potential citizen-subject positions across a continuum. Four such positions are identified and appraised, namely the visual citizen as: (a) news observer and circulator, (b) accidental news image-maker and contributor, (c) purposeful news imagemaker and activist, and (d) creative image-maker and news commentator. Evaluating these positions in relation to their significance for visual journalism, this article aims to advance efforts to rethink the inscription of imagery in news reportage and its import for public life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Theory
ISSN1050-3293
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Nov 2019

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