Visual and Discourse Analysis of Herald News Article

Visual analysis refers to the study of a number of news from another bigger source. The news that comes in may be so much, but only a few will be taken for use. This, therefore, requires going through the pieces of news before picking the most appropriate item. The current changes in the technology have led to several changes in the society. Media have also adopted other changes in the way they present their information to the public.

This essay explains how visual analysis and discourse analysis have been used in analyzing a news item on the Herald Sun. Herald Sun is an Australian newspaper which reported on the arrest of an actor Mathew Newton for a charge of assault of a hotel receptionist. On April 17th, Mr Newton is said to have punched a hotel employee because he disconnected a phone. He then went ahead to assault the clerk by punching him in the face and fighting him to the ground (Herald Sun 2012).

The police later obtained camera coverage of the incidence in which Mr Newton is seen first approaching the clerk, than both were on the floor, and finally the clerk tried to escape while Mr Newton followed him. Pictures convey several messages. They can be referred to as special representations of the reality or the summary of the real situation at hand (FQS 2012).

What we see will determine the judgement we are going to pass or the translation of what is actually going on. When one sees a picture, he/she can already describe the situation at hand even without being told what is happening. In this case, the camera footage shows various positions and postures of the two men. One may not know exactly what is happening by looking at the pictures but can make a good guess that there are two people fighting. The police also had to look at the footage in order to decipher what was happening before giving their report. They explain how Mr. Newton walks over to the counter and speaks to the attendant; he then gets upset and starts throwing papers out of the desk before hitting the attendant with his fist. Pictures played an important role in this case because when Mr Newton claims the attendant spat on his face, the police could not prove this as the pictures from the footage showed the attendant with his back to the camera. This way there was no evidence he actually spat on him.

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Visual analysis of a document can help in conveying the message intended. Passing the message visually and ensuring it is accurate, however, may be determined by several other factors. In a newspaper, for example, the most eye catching news are put on the first page. This helps attract the attention of the readers. Most of the time, however, catchy images are used especially when a story is well-known.

In the Herald Sun (2012), the pictures of Mathew Newton fighting with a hotel clerk in Miami were on the front page of the Herald Sun. These pictures were attractive even if they were not clearly taken having been from a surveillance camera. The fact that these were pictures of an icon or famous actor and son of a television icon attracted the attention of readers.

The image size also affects the message it conveys to the viewer. This is because a larger image catches the eye more than smaller images. This is because large images are easily visible and show much detail unlike smaller images where one tends to struggle in order to clearly see what the picture represents.

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Sometimes, when writing a story, it is important to put images that will help explain the story further. An example is the pictures showing the two people fighting while they are lying on the ground and the one where Mr. Newton is shown being arrested by a policeman. There will be no need for the storywriter to expound more on the story when the pictures there are self-explanatory (Herald Sun 2012).

Through the pictures and images or even video footage, different people will make different interpretations of a story. A writer should, therefore, first determine what he wants their readers to know before proceeding with it. It should first be determined whether the main focus of the story is the graphic representations or the story itself that accompanies the pictures. If the centre of focus is the story, then smaller images and more written details will help convey the desired message to the reader.

According Billiondollargraphics (2007), the images and pictures help increase the level of understanding. Images will trigger thoughts and imaginations. They help people refresh their memories in case they had forgotten something. Pictures will also draw emotions from a reader. If a picture, for example, shows a sad situation, then the readers will be sad and if it is full of joy, then they will be happy too. In some occasions, pictures have also been used to trigger reactions from the reader, for example, a picture showing unfair treatment of a citizen by police may lead to people protesting against the police.

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Visual representations play an important role in not just conveying the message in a newspaper or a television; they also help in solving cases that are brought to court. In the case of Mathew Newton, the camera footage and video will help a long way in solving the case as long as it is valid in the court of law.

Analyzing of information or news items can also be done by a discourse analysis. Lsa (2012) describes discourse analysis as closely looking for the meaning of the words used in a sentence or article that is not too obvious by merely reading it. It utilizes the grammatical bit of a sentence like order or sound to get the hidden meaning.

Discourse analysis can be used in the news where there is a need to understand exactly what the writer meant by using some words in the article. This helps get a better meaning of the words as it is intended. When an article is written, it is not guaranteed that the audience or readers will get the meaning directly by reading it the first time. This is why, in some cases, one needs to read first, then after reading the second part, get back to the first one so as to get the new meaning other than what they had assigned it in the first place.

There are so many reasons why there is a need for a discourse analysis when reading a newspaper or getting some news. These reasons could be based on the differences people have in opinion, culture, age, and other geographical factors. Some news items may be easy to translate for some people but hard for others. In the example of Mathew Newton above, someone reading the article does not know who will not bother and who may just glance at it. However, if the person knows whom the article talks about, the/shehey will be more interested in knowing the details of the story.

A discourse analysis aims at identifying the cohesion and the relationship between the parts of a sentence that will help in interpreting of the story. In this case, for example, the information given by the police and the account of events given by both parties will help the reader or the person concerned determine what exactly happened and if they need, then they can also identify who was on the wrong.

As Slideshare (2012) outlines, a discourse analysis can also help in identifying whose opinion or whose thoughts on the subject are being presented to the readers. This means that when analyzing a newspaper, it is possible to deduce exactly what is the opinion of the writer. The fact that he agrees or disagrees on the matter will clearly be indicated.

This means, therefore, if an article is for the public, the writer must avoid being one-sided and instead focus on reporting the facts. In Mathew Newton’s story, for example, the writer at some point seems to have portrayed the police as being against Mr Newton. This is seen in the part where the writer insists that the camera footage does not show the clerk spitting at the actor.

In conclusion, both visual analysis and discourse analysis help one analyze news items and articles well and get the desired meaning and message to be passed across. These methods are both effective and can be used depending on the level of understanding the person reading an article is at. They simplify the process of deciphering meanings from large amount of information.

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