Obamacare: Visual Rhetoric in Newspapers

By Barbara Emanuel and Marcos André Franco Martins.

Published by Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: November 2, 2016 $US5.00

DOI: 10.18848/1833-1874/CGP/v10/13-23

This work analyses first pages of American newspapers in order to identify strategies of visual rhetoric. The newspapers in question were published on June 29, 2012, the day after the Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a comprehensive plan to reform the country’s healthcare system. Since Court sessions may not be photographed, reports could not have been accompanied by photographs of the event itself and newspapers had to employ alternative strategies of visual representation, such as portrayal of pro- and anti-protesters, definition of main characters, emphasis on healthcare workers and their patients, and the use of symbols. The results of the analysis demonstrate how decisions about visual elements are essential to the rhetoric strategies in mass communication. News design operates in a context of geographical, historical, and ideological situations and intentions, so text and images collaborate to shape the message, operating in a rhetorical fashion.

Keywords: Communication, Newspapers, Visual Communication, Images, Visual Rhetoric

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review, Volume 10, 2016, pp.13-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: November 2, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.998MB)).

Barbara Emanuel

PhD Candidate, Industrial Design School (ESDI), State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Marcos André Franco Martins

Professor, Industrial Design School (ESDI), State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil