Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stereotyping in Sports Photo (Reflection paper)

Almost every photo in the newspaper is highly selective view of the actual world on whatever subject it is. However, when we read a newspaper and look at pictures we do not think about selection. We just accept photos as they are. We get used to see sports photos expressing Joy of victory or Agony of Defeat. I, personally, like such photos because it is like they bring me into an action and make me feel the same way: be happy or sad.

Sports pictures are very strong. They inspire people the most of the time. I love to see pictures of young and energetic people (athletes) in newspapers and magazines. Honestly, I never thought about stereotypes created by those pictures till I read Dianne Hagaman’s article. As the author wrote “Newspaper photographers solve this problem (to have sufficient “impact” to catch the readers’ eye) by making highly conventionalized images, using a limited number of visual components and compositional devices to illustrate a limited number of ideas or “stories”. In this problem solving process a photographer is not along. Editors and reporters play important roles, too: assigning and telling a story idea.

In the International Issues Reporting class, we talked a lot about stereotypes of certain countries and nationalities. We have learned that the stereotypes are considered to be “pictures in the head” of individuals looking out into their social worlds (Lippmann, 1922). In this sense, the pictures of athletes are already in our heads and photographers just are reinforcing those thoughts by offering pictures from certain places. People already know there will be a happy winner, a sad loser, an angry coach and emotional fans.

There are two kinds of approaches in stereotyping: individual and collective. In general, mass media are important collective repository for group stereotypes. For example, stereotyping in pictures from Sport land is provided by group values and group behavior and it is culturally shared with the people. Regarding to sport celebrities, there could be individual approach to their stereotyping. For example, picture of flying Michael Jordan.


February, 2001

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