An Image of Refugees Through The Social Media Lens: A Narrative Framing Analysis of The Humans of New York Series ‘Syrian Americans’

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Citizen Journalism, Humans of New York, Migrant Crisis, Narrative Framing Analysis, Narrative Theory, Visual Rhetoric

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In this article we analyse the visual portrayal of Syrian refugees in the Facebook group ‘Humans of New York’ – a citizen journalism site run by a New York-based photographer. Specifically, we use narrative theory and its related method, narrative framing analysis, to examine the visual rhetoric of the European refugee crisis that emerges on this site, and the images that were most popular with the site’s viewers. Our findings indicate that while mainstream media images marginalize and dehumanize refugees by portraying them as pollutants and terrorists, alternate sites such as HONY do not function under traditional journalistic norms and routines, and provide alternate portrayals. The three narrative frames that emerge are as follows: refugees are skilled, normalized and are ideologically American. The overall narrative is a social master analogue that indicates that refugees are capable of assimilating into American life.

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Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies, v. 7, issue 1, p. 79-102