LASICS .::. Open Conference Systems, IAMCR 2010: Communication and Citizenship

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Colour as social construction of reality: the visual journalism and the image culture

Luciano Guimarães

Last modified: 2010-06-03


This paper deals with the intentions in the use of colors as information and creates a theoretical instrument to analyze and develop journalistic products that use color images.

Color is definitely one of the most instantaneously received medias in journalistic communication. The expression of colors, as other codes used by the media, is a result of the technological development and the cultural relationships of different periods, different societies, and different ways journalism is seen, produced and perceived.

This research presents and justifies a function to color, focused on the information produced by the visual journalistic media, the color-as-information. In this perspective, a critical and descriptive analysis is made on how the use of the color, instead of contributing to the consuming of media products, has determined adhesions to ideas and goals that are out of the common intentions of the information and the communication, not to speak of some distortions, exaggerations, prejudices and other anomalies in the published news.

Regarding all the problems caused by the interference of reality operated by the visual medias, this research presents color as an element able to go against the reduction of the information to the two-dimension plane.

After analyzing and describing a series of color-as-information positive uses (actions that perform the informative and communicative functions in responsible, ethic and transparent ways) and negative uses (actions that cause miscomprehension or information distortions), this research presents an ontogenic instrumental model of color, with applications both at analysis as well as at production of media texts in which color is an important element of meaning. It is an orientation structure to the comprehension and use of color as information, indicating ways to the wise and responsible use or to the objective analysis of the color-as-information texts.

As a demonstration of the model applicability, a comparative analysis of the colors used by the Brazilian and German media is made. In this application, while the similarities point to the globalized and technological unity, the diversity on the use stresses the cultural nature of the colors

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