Academic journal article Visible Language

The Mirage Project: An Experimental Qualitative Reception Study

Academic journal article Visible Language

The Mirage Project: An Experimental Qualitative Reception Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Mirage Project focuses on how readers ascribe meaning to the pictures in the newspaper. The conventions of the newspaper as regards truthfulness, reliability and authenticity see the photograph as data, as information. But the photograph is more than that. Through the project sixteen informants' reception of four different pictures are analyzed in relation to the news articles to which they belong. Through the use of different visual variants for the same article the reader gets the possibility to be critical and to choose between different pictures.

The Mirage Project gathers this chaos of the readers' choices and arguments for their choices through a series of analyses. In the light of the new digital culture the reader makes a different frame of understanding than newspaper conventions normally offer. The readers are disobedient. They have other values and other demands on quality than expected.

This article is a presentation of a reception project where the experimental method is developed to extend the semiotic meaning potential and partly defines the readers' values and preferences.

The Mirage Project focuses on how readers ascribe meaning to the pictures in the newspaper. The conventions of the newspaper, as regards truthfulness, reliability and authenticity, see the photograph as data, as information. But the photograph is more than that. Through the project sixteen informants' reception of four different pictures are analyzed in relation to the news articles to which they belong. Through the use of different visual variants for the same article, the reader gets the possibility to be critical and to choose between different pictures. The Mirage Project gathers this chaos of the readers' choices and arguments for their choices through a series of analyses. In light of the new digital culture, the reader makes a different frame of understanding than newspaper conventions normally offer. The readers are disobedient. They have other values and other demands on quality than expected. This article is a presentation of a reception project where the experimental method is developed-which partly extends the semiotic meaning potential-partly defines the readers' values and preferences.

The Mirage Project is an experimental qualitative reception study with the focus on complexity and experience. It is experimental in the sense that the material used is constructed in four different versions concerning the pictures and the captions-there are a total of four different topics and articles. It is experimental in the sense that the informants are put into a position where they have to sort and rank the different versions of the selected article. It is a qualitative reception study where the bodily embedded selection process is extended by very open personal interviews concerning their likes and dislikes.

* The right picture of unemployment

We can take a look at an example from the project. The content of the article is about unemployment. The informants were presented different versions of the article and I asked them to rank the four different versions. The question I posed to each one was: "Which one do you like best?" Very quickly the informants ranked the different versions-and then we started talking about what they saw in their pictures, what they were thinking about them and how they related personal experiences to the picture in its context.

The lead to the article with the headline "One in five is a loser"-goes like this: "Long-term unemployment: Almost 100.000 Danes have been unemployed so long that they will never get a job. That is on average one in five of all adults between 18 and 60. The Social Commission calls them losers. They are lost to the labour market. But do they consider themselves 'losers'?"

I will briefly describe the four pictures. In the first picture the man with the beer-belly is holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. …

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