Designed image : the construction of editorial portraits in consumer magazines

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

The functions of editorial portraits in consumer magazines and different discourses of production of photography are investigated in this study. These questions are addressed focusing on the very making of the portraits. The study is composed of three ethnographic case studies, the materials consisting of interviews and observations of newsrooms and photographic studios of a variety of Finnish consumer magazines. Also the portraits referred to in the interviews or resulting from the observed production processes have been used as research material. The editorial portrait’s main function is to act as a part of the magazine’s editorial concept, and the portraits are designed. As a result of the study, the magazine’s designed image is introduced and defined as follows: 1) It is co-operatively produced primarily for its original context. 2) Its realism is defined according to the magazine concept’s definition of realism. 3) It is a performance within which the magazine collective, the portrayed person and the reader take part. 4) It is performative: it refers to its own making and repeats the ethos of its magazine. 5) It encompasses the reader in the performance by showing its proficiency and co-produced authenticity. Based on the analysis of the materials, two strong discourses of production of photography in the studied magazines – the community discourse and the neutrality discourse – are specified. The community discourse emphasizes the co-production of the portraits and the role offered to the reader as “one of us”. The portrayed persons are chosen and photographed according to the well-defined realism of the magazine concept. Hence, the magazine’s editorial portraits may form a discursively very homogeneous entity. The neutrality discourse, in contrast, draws upon the traditional ideals of journalistic impartiality and stresses the reader’s role as a recipient of correct information. The realism of the portraits derives from the topic of the article, and the portrayed persons are not necessarily visually unified to conform with the magazine’s editorial concept. Drawing from the analysis, it is argued that the editorial portraits in magazines are contextualized performances that have different discursive biases. They construct and sustain the values and the credibility of the magazine’s editorial concept. The editorial portraits refer to themselves and their magazine not less than they do to any external subject matter.
Translated title of the contributionDesigned image : the construction of editorial portraits in consumer magazines
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Salo, Merja, Supervising Professor
  • Töyry, Maija, Thesis Advisor
  • Salo, Merja, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5519-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-3670-0
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • portraits
  • photography
  • magazines
  • media research
  • journalism

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