Markkinoinnin ja viestinnän yksikkö, 2018
Master's Degree Programme in Intercultural Studies in Communication and Administration
Representations are an important part of communication and play an integral role in the way we understand and view our surroundings. Represented events and characters are also central in the meaning making process. The need to process the large amount of information and news generated daily requires that media tools such as newspapers and other related platforms feature articles that present actors in a way that the readers can make sense in the shortest time possible. To achieve the objective, authors of articles frequently make use of catchy headlines and images. Readers draw from their cultural background as well as media ingrained information to draw conclusions. The interpretation exercise is influenced by amongst other factors stereotypes, which can determine how an event is viewed.
This study will explore how Muslim youths in the events of Masjiid Musa Mosque were depicted following a clash with security forces on February 2, 2014 in the coastal town of Kenya. Data relating to the incident was gathered from two Kenyan online versions of The Daily Nation and The Standard newspaper. The objective was to answer two formulated questions regarding how the group was represented and the stereotypes that were manifested in the course of reporting. The study focused on headlines, images, and captions of eight articles regarding the event. The material was delineated between 2nd February, 2014 and 16th February, 2014. This was considered to be the peak period when the event attracted local and global attention.
The study is qualitative in nature and takes into account Kress and van Leeuwen's image analysis framework (1996) and the visual representation of social actors (2008). The study also features multimodal discourse analysis as well as social semiotics. The aim is to establish the relationship between the linguistic aspect and images as well as the resulting combination. The relationship between the represented participants and the assumed viewer are taken into account. Stuart Hall's theory of Representation is supported by the social psychological theory of stereotyping in the theory part.
Findings from the research revealed subtle and negative representation of Muslim youths in the event under investigation. This was reflected in the language and images used in the process of reporting. The group was cast in contexts of social anarchy including violence and depicted as antagonistic to social order. This served to reinforce stereotypes of this group in society as militant, deviant and anti social.
Muslim Youths, Stereotypes, Social Semiotics, Representations, Images