Politicians, Photographers, and a Pope

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Fantasy Theme Analysis, Media Ownership, Media Production, News Media Values, Pope Francis, Religious Leaders, Symbolic Convergence Theory, Visual Analysis

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Pope Francis’s 2015 visit to Cuba provided a unique opportunity for a comparative study of state-controlled and independent media systems. This study, grounded in the interpretivist tradition, uses symbolic convergence theory and fantasy theme analysis to explore how visuals created by United States-based AP Images, United Kingdom-based Reuters, and Cuba-based Prensa Latina reveal the underlying rhetorical visions, ideologies, and priorities of each culture’s media system. More specifically, state-controlled and independent media depicted the Pope’s visit differently in the degree of personalization shown, the social actors who were depicted, the purpose of the visit, how the Pope was shown in relation to others, and the location where the action occurred. Each media system highlighted its news values and priorities through these differences. Additionally, the images revealed two master narratives: Cuba as a model of Catholicism and the Pope as a model of hierarchy and conformity.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journalism Studies, v. 19, issue 9, p. 1313-1330