Three Dimensionality
Taxonomy of Iconic, Linguistic, and
Audio Messages in Television News

by Magdalena e. Wojcieszak  (IE University, Segovia, Spain)

Visual critics interested in news primarily analyze still photographs in print media.
Thus, the questions of how images in television news are contextualized, comple-
mented, displaced, explained, or contradicted by the auditory channel and linguistic
messages on the screen have not been studied extensively. Based on an exploratory
content analysis of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News coverage of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks and Hurricane Katrina, the author categorizes the interplay between the three
modes of information transmission in the broadcast news: moving footage (iconic
messages), on-screen textual elements (linguistic messages), and voiceover (audio
messages). The analysis identifies six organizing categories: (1) polysemy reduction,
(2) meaning attainment through audio, (3) reinforcement, (4) contextualization and
acquiring meaning, (5) contradiction, and (6) slogano-symbolism. These categories
provide an interpretative framework for visual analyses of television news and offer
new directions for research. (download)