Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Media Studies

Supervisor

Dr Jacquie Burkell

2nd Supervisor

Dr Susan Knabe

Joint Supervisor

Abstract

There is growing academic recognition of the role of local news-makers who produce news for a global audience. Existing research has focused on local journalists and fixers engaged in international news-making, but not local professional photojournalists. This thesis explores the work of local photojournalists in Afghanistan who produce images for a global audience in Afghanistan. Eighteen such Afghan photojournalists were interviewed. Through thematic analysis of the interview data, local-global tensions were located in the perceptions of the photojournalists regarding three aspects of their work – professional experiences, professional roles, and image production. Regarding the first, the Afghan photojournalists perceived that they faced more physical dangers, as well as other material and intangible disadvantages compared to international photojournalists. Regarding the second, the professional role perceptions of the respondents as producers of objective/aesthetic news images was found to be negotiated with their perceptions of being visual interlocutors of Afghanistan to the world. Regarding their image production, the photojournalists’ accounts showed both direct and indirect international influences on images they produce as well as local influences – their knowledge and familiarity to Afghanistan and identity as Afghans. In this context, the respondents perceived that international news media’s depictions of Afghanistan were biased towards image-subjects which, with one exception, do not match with image-subjects they would prefer to show to international audiences. To match these responses regarding image-subjects to actual images produced by Afghan photojournalists, the respondents’ preferences were compared with the image-subjects present in a purposive sample of images of Afghanistan produced by Afghan photojournalists for an international audience. The comparison showed that the respondents’ preferences largely corresponded with the image-subjects in the chosen sample. Based on all of these different findings, the thesis offers an overall understanding of the interplay of the local and the global in the Afghan local-global photojournalists’ perceptions of their work and images. Finally, the thesis discusses how this research adds to the growing body of academic research on the work of local news staff engaged in international news-making, especially of conflicts, and avenues for future research in this area are outlined.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 28, 2019


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