Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 6, No. 2, 1992
Photogenic Papers
Edited by John Richardson

Picturing the statement: visual representations of the Prime Minister's Economic Statement, February 1992

Geoffrey Craig

Australian newspapers contained a plethora of stories and comment dissecting Prime Minister Paul Keating's economic statement in February 1992. It was given extensive coverage as it was judged to be vital to the government's political survival, particularly given that it followed the Opposition's Fightback! package and Keating's recent elevation to the leadership of the Labor party. However, for most editors, an economic statement or budget causes problems as it does not lend itself to exciting pictorial coverage. Photographs of politicians in parliament do not help to sell newspapers. Editors also face the problem of making the ramifications of complex economic analysis instantly accessible to readers.

For students of journalism, this raises the question of how photographs and other visual material are employed to represent the economy. What purpose do they serve both in representing an event and in relationship to the stories written on the subject? Can we analyse how the press constructs notions of the "real world" and structures relationships of solidarity and control between itself, readers, and participants and objects represented in the text?

To examine these issues, I have analysed the photographs and other visual material used on the front pages of six newspapers of the day after Keating's statement. I have organised these papers into three groups based on different front-page visual representations of the economic statement. The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald employ formal, long shots of Keating in parliament, The Age and the Financial Review use cartoons, and the tabloids, The West Australian and the Daily Telegraph Mirror, use close shots of the Prime Minister. Methodologically, my approach follows Kress and van Leeuwen's construction of a visual grammar informed by Hallidayan linguistics and social semiotic theory.

Kress and van Leeuwen state that the semiotic codes of language and of images have their respective ways of realising the well-known Hallidayan functions (Introduction). For example, they maintain that a pictorial equivalent of transitivity can be found in vectorial relations. A relation of action is represented by the vectors or axes formed 'by the direction of a glance or by a (usually diagonal) line formed by some object, for example an outstretched arm' (20). The interpersonal relations of the context of situation are realised through such things as the direction of the gaze of the represented participants and the angle of shot. The textual metafunction is realised by the layout, picture sizing, horizontal and vertical shots. I will elaborate on these features in the following analysis.

The Australian and The Herald

The morning after the Prime Minister's economic statement, it dominated all front pages. The pictorial representations of the event, however, received quite varied treatment. They ranged from photographs of Keating in parliament to cartoon representations of "Doctor" Keating with his sick patient, the Australian electorate.

Two of the "quality broadsheets", The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald, had quite similar front page layouts. Both had lead stories partly wrapping around a photograph of Keating and a boxed table of his main points. The front pages also included comment pieces by political and economic correspondents, usually with accompanying "mug shot". Both had banners under the masthead directing the reader to liftouts further into the paper. The Herald, however, also had snapshots of "average citizens" in the banner, with accompanying text explaining how they would benefit from the statement. It also had the regular feature, Column 8, and a brief story and photograph about the cricket match between Australia and South Africa the preceding night. The text of this article draws parallels between the cricket match and the statement.

I first want to analyse the interpersonal or interactive meanings of the main photographs; the meanings arising from the represented social relations between participants and viewer. Both photographs posit a distanced, public relationship between Keating and viewer by the use of a rather long shot - technically a 3/4 shot in The Australian - in the formal context of parliament. The viewer is also given a sense of power over the represented participant through the use of high angle shots.

An important aspect of the interactive meanings of the photographs is conveyed through the system of mood. The mood system in language consists of the subject combined with the finite element of the verbal group and it realises four primary speech functions such as the offer or demand of information and the offer or demand of goods and services. Kress and van Leeuwen state that the mood system of images is limited to the offer or demand of information, realised by the absence or presence of gaze (by the participant at the viewer). The mood system of the main photographs on the front page of The Herald and The Australian is that of an offer of information. That is, the viewer is not confronted by Keating's gaze. In fact, his gaze never directly engages the viewer in any of the papers analysed. Instead, he is offered as an object for contemplation to the active viewer. This particular represention of the social relation between politician and viewer may seem strange given that much of the coverage of the statement is prompted by the issue of "what he can do for you" or "what the statement means for you". By contrast, however, other represented participants, such as "average citizens" and journalists, do demand involvement with the viewer through direct gaze. It is implied that the viewer can identify with these people, as opposed to the impossibility of interacting with Keating. So we can see that the photographs of Keating addressing parliament, while, seemingly, standard and "objective", are actually quite "subjective". That is, the images have been organised so that the viewer sees him from a particular point of view.

Modality is the other aspect of interpersonal or interactive meanings that will be examined. This refers to the credibility of a representation's relationship to the real. Judgements of credibility, therefore, forge particular social relations between producers and receivers of messages. For Hodge and Kress (123), "reality" is determined not through some objective correlation or fit with a representation, but through acceptance of cultural standards and conventions upon which the "real" is based. That is, persons in different social contexts may well disagree about the credibility of a representation, and the judgement of the modality of the representation will depend on the coding orientations (Bernstein) through which the text is assessed. In the case of a press photograph, a contextualised image has high modality but within, say, a scientific or technological coding orientation, a decontextualised image would be attributed with high modality.

But it is not sufficient to leave the analysis at that. The functional component of the semantic system does not generate interpersonal meanings in isolation from other types of meanings. The interpersonal meanings of the photographs analysed can be realised independently of any accompanying text, but the photographs are part of larger texts (the front page and the newspaper) and any complete analysis must incorporate how the interpersonal meanings mesh with, for example, textual meanings, which are generated by the code of spatial composition, the layout.

A brief analysis of the photographs in The Herald and The Australian shows the integral function they perform in the textual meaning of the respective pages. Both photographs operate as the balancing centre of the pages. They have a high salience because of this, the size of shot, and their placement in the visual field. Further, an element of page design has greater weight the higher it is positioned on the page. The photographs can be assumed to have a prominent role in the reading path of the viewer, and the vector created by Keating's gaze leads into the body of the lead story.

While it is important to identify the prominent functions the photographs perform on the respective front pages, it is also necessary to examine how the text (the front page) is organised as a whole. Kress and van Leeuwen further investigate principles of composition and examine how textual elements are organised along both vertical and horizontal axes. They hypothesise that vertical structures in our culture are often informed by a separation of the space of the "Ideal" ("the most highly valued"), at the top of a page, and the space of the "Real" (the "here and now") at the bottom. The horizontal axis is structured with the "well-established", the "already understood", the "Given", presented on the left; while the right is the space of the "New", the "yet to be established". That is to say, compositions are socio-cultural constructs which place certain types of participants and certain elements of textual material in particular relations to each other.

Applying this to the front pages of The Australian and The Herald realises interesting results. In The Herald and the banner above the headline of the Australian we have the "facts" (the Given) on the left, and the "opinion" (The New) on the right. The Australian is organised along a vertical axis and has the news stories in the place of the Ideal, the most highly valued, but the comment articles occupy the space of the Real. This reveals important relationships between high modality elements (such as standard news stories and photographs, and comment articles) and it subsequently enables hypotheses to be offered about expressions of journalistic subjectivity. I suggest that the lead stories, the photographs and tables offer factual information and ground the report in the reality of the event, and to some extent the opinion pieces are "naturalised" by their close proximity to the material. But the left half of the horizontal axis, the sphere of the Given, the "facts", and the top half of the vertical axis, the Ideal, the highly valued, also help perform another, almost contradictory, function. They provide a space which allows for a critique of such a representation. The comment articles question the details in the other sphere, suggesting the political and economic "reality" of the statement's purpose and impact, and through that structuring the media professional's justification of the public's need for them is proffered. In fact, both these papers have comment articles playing an increasingly prominent role on the front pages in conjunction with the more traditional "objective" reportage. This is a result of the print media's increased competition from electronic media, particularly in the context of events such as the economic statement where the details have already been reported by radio and television the night before. Newspapers have consequently been forced to adopt a more analytic role.

As Tiffen states, quoting Tunstall: 'The superiority of broadcasting news in speed and immediacy has "pushed specialist journalists more and more into before-the-event, after-the-event and behind-the-event reporting"' (18). But it is necessary to elaborate on this historical development and analyse textually how comment pieces "work" in relationship to the more "standard" journalism stories. Following Kress and van Leeuwen's hypothesis, we can see that the comment pieces always occupy the realm of the Real and the New. In both instances, this placement involves a valuation of the journalist as "expert". While it is true that textual elements at the bottom of visual compositions, organised around a vertical axis, are less highly valued, I would argue that, in the context of newspapers, the realm of the Real assumes a particular importance. Similarly, as Kress and van Leeuwen note, texts organised along a horizontal axis privilege the left hand side, the Given. In this case 'the place of the New is merely perfunctory: it is the place of the replication of the paradigm...' (106). But, as they add, this positioning also makes the New 'the place of the reproduction of social meanings; and also the place where the contestation of paradigmatic values can take place, the place therefore of the production of social meanings' (106-107). It is from this that we can see the valuation of the expertise of journalists and their accompanying interpretive power.

This structure of stories and images does not serve to fragment and problematise the reader's response to the economic statement. In fact, it coalesces to build a particular meaning which allows the contradictory co-existence of journalistic "objectivity" and interpretation. The reader is the organising locus of the text, receiving information from both Keating about the statement, and from the journalistic interpretation of the event. The organisation of text layout, offers an interpretation of the event and attempts to align the reader's interpretation of the statement with that of the journalist. Having shown how interpersonal meanings are communicated within a particular textual organisation, I will further investigate the political ramifications of the structured relationship between viewer, journalist and represented participants and consequently discuss how that is informed by the political and economic roles of the press.

If modality involves the construction and contestation of knowledge systems, then each semiotic act will involve expressions of power with respect to participants, social relations and processes, either through the articulation of difference or the forging of solidarity. This is, of course, not to suggest that such semiosic struggles will produce one non-negotiable meaning or outcome, but the structuring of preferred reading positions. The particular semiosic organisations of the front pages of The Australian and The Herald posit a preferred reading position which forges a relationship of solidarity between media professional and reader.

To further investigate this, I will draw on Heider's model of coalitions, via Hodge and Kress (151). Heider found that in any grouping of three people or entities there is a strong tendency towards the building of balanced relationships, or structures which harmonise solidarity and opposition. This, I suggest, is what is happening on the front pages of The Australian and The Herald. An harmonious relationship is being proffered, with the media professional's generally negative response to Keating's economic statement being aligned with a similarly negative response by the reader. This can be most particularly gleaned from the interpersonal meanings of the photographs which have already been analysed in terms of angle and point of view. That is, the texts both organise a community of readers of the papers (therefore "justifying" and naturalising the media professional's interpretation) and also attribute modality value to a particular political event. But such expressions of difference (from Keating) and solidarity (with the media professional) are not just generated at a textual level. Rather social functions determine how language and images work in texts, and it is possible to suggest how such textual expressions of difference and solidarity are informed by the political and economic roles of the press in society.

The press has a democratic function: it provides a sphere within which public debate can take place. Therefore, it is necessary for newspapers to carry expressions of difference. They are sites where social disagreements and antagonisms are viewed; places where the chaos of the world is represented, where the battle takes place over the social control of meaning and "truth". And the newspapers I have analysed embody that structure. The six front pages contain expressions of difference, but of course, this is illustrated more graphically when the entire paper is considered. A wide range of views are canvassed on Keating's economic statement. Business and industry leaders, trade union officials, "mums and dads", farmers and foreign exchange dealers are all "given their say". But as we have seen, such expressions of difference do not fragment and problematise the reader's response to the economic statement.

The press has another function: it is run as a business and consequently must generate profits. Newspapers, as products in a capitalist society, must, to maintain their financial viability, project a distinct, unified image to harness their readers into communities which can then be sold to advertisers. Expressions of difference must be worked into a unified text, in much the same way that a television news anchorperson harmonises disparate news items into a recognisable product. That is, expressions of difference are subsequently resolved through the process of semiosis, thus constructing a relationship of solidarity. The reader's interpretation of the event is aligned with that of the media professional's. This forging of the views of a community of readers is the necessary result of the need of the press to maintain financial viability.

The Age and The Financial Review

The Age and The Australian Financial Review are characterised by the use of cartoons on their front pages, in contrast to the photographs used by The Herald and The Australian. The Review has a cartoon showing the nation as a rocket which Paul Keating is about to set into orbit. The rocket contains factories, ships, teachers, doctors, tanks, trees and many other objects. Underneath is an untitled box listing the main points of the economic statement. The headline reads 'Labor's clever, risky play' and the sub-headline, 'Keating gambles on a push for growth and jobs'. Above the headline is a banner which, as in the other papers analysed, directs the reader to a liftout further into the paper. This is reinforced by another cartoon representation of Keating as a traffic cop. Wrapped around the cartoon and box of main points are three stories: a standard leader detailing the substance of the economic statement; another detailing the statement's business tax concessions; and a one-column story on the far right of the page by the economics editor.

The Age's cartoon has the Prime Minister as a doctor looking in on a bed-ridden patient representing the Australian electorate. Placed over this cartoon are a number of tables showing the taxable income levels over several years under Keating as against the Fightback! package. The main headline reads 'Tax carrot, family aid in Keating plan', accompanied by a lead story by chief political correspondent, Michelle Grattan. She also has a comment piece over five columns at the bottom of the page, complete with mug shot. The lead story is interrupted by a one-column Tandberg cartoon of Keating pulling money out of a top-hat and offering it to a rabbit. Under the main cartoon is a story about the tax cuts announced in the statement and under it is a quote from the editorial and a brief summary of reactions from markets, employers, unions and the opposition. In the far left hand column is a list of the main points under the heading 'Where all the money will go', and on the far right is a digest of the other stories in the paper including state, national, sport and international news. At the top of the page is another banner with the headline: 'What it means', together with a small head-and-shoulders shot of Keating and references to further analysis of the economic statement deeper in the paper.

The cartoon in The Review is a particularly interesting representation and comment on Keating's economic statement. Analysing the interpersonal meanings of the cartoon, the mood is that of an offer. Keating's gaze does not confront the viewer; he is viewed from an oblique angle, his back almost to the reader. The angle is difficult to determine, but Keating seems to be viewed with superiority by the reader. This is reinforced by the "public" social distance between participant and viewer; the figure of Keating is very much belittled. This conclusion gains further credence from the fact that the cartoon is decontextualised; there is no recognisable, "realistic" setting. This reading is further confirmed when modality is considered. As previously mentioned, cartoons in the context of newspapers can generally be attributed with low modality. In the context of a "common-sense" view of realism, they obviously are less realistic representations than press photographs.

However, a direct and unproblematic comparison between press photographs and cartoons ignores that the former works metonymically and the latter metaphorically in realising referential functions. Photographs are excellent conveyers of reality because, working metonymically, there is no transposition between planes of meaning; whereas cartoons, working as metaphors, generate meaning by association between different planes. In the newspaper context, the value of metonyms resides in their realism. The apparent lack of a gap between sign and referent and the disguising of the selection process involved in the representation help consolidate the idea of transparency upon which journalistic "objectivity" is based. The value of metaphors is that the association and creation of meaning occurs at a further distance from the referent and there is consequently greater freedom for critique without calling ideology into question. Charges that the Prime Minister is a quack or a stupid-looking panel operator about to send the whole economy into orbit are rendered less harsh by their representations in cartoon form.

But this is not to deny the power of metaphor as an ideological tool. Photographs of the Prime Minister in parliament help lend authority to the subject of front page news, but the use of metaphor through cartoons is invaluable for the editor facing the problem of how to instantly make clear judgements about complex economic matters. This process of knowledge construction by the press is the result of the time, space and conditions of audience reception within which news is made and it relies heavily on the use of such devices as metaphor and stereotypes. The effect is highly ideological: explaining the new in terms of established categories, perpetuating a common sense understanding of politics and economics. This relates not only to individual images but impinges on a reader's understanding of the rest of the text.

To return to the Review's cartoon, its decontextualisation also has significance when analysing how the visual image works with the text in an analysis of the textual meaning of the page. Many decontextualised images are not separated from accompanying text or other images on a page by borders or frames, as is the case of this cartoon. Indeed, the nation/economy rocket infringes on both the box of main points and the headline. I suggest this associates the box of details with the "risky play" of the headline with the effect of diminishing the authority of the box of main points which is not headed or titled. The metaphor of the rocket finds echoes in the language of the accompanying stories which talk of giving the economy 'an immediate boost' and programmes which 'aim to break through' the economy's limits to growth.

An examination of the interactive meanings of the main cartoon in The Age reveal different structures from the images already analysed. Firstly, the mood of the image is complicated by the presence of two represented participants; the sick patient and "Doctor" Keating. The mood of the patient is that of demand. The reader is directly engaged by the patient's gaze and the sense of involvement is reinforced by the fact that the frontal plane of the patient is parallel to that of the image maker. In effect, a "mirror" image is set up, with readers seeing themselves as the victims of the recession. In contrast, the mood of Keating is offer. Again he is represented as an object for our contemplation, but this time the object of his gaze is the reader (metaphorically rendered). In a sense, this structure gives readers a particular power as they are the "recipients" of Keating's direct gaze, but they are not obliged to respond to such a demand. The reader is at a remove in a privileged position, watching and judging Keating watching "their" recovery to his medicine. The viewer does not gain any particular superiority over the represented participants through the realisation of a high angle, as with the other images analysed. It is difficult to conceive of the reader being given any perspective other than an eye-level perspective when interacting with representations of "themselves". Similarly, the represented social distance is closer than the other images so far examined.

The Age's cartoon cannot be considered a credible representation of the real but the portrayal, through the style of caricature and lettering, draws on a style of old-fashioned advertising, with the associated connotations of quackery and magic potions from "Doctor" Keating. This representation has the important function of undercutting the authority of the tables of taxable income levels which are positioned over the cartoon. It is interesting to note that while The Australian and The Herald set off and privilege such figures, The Age is more "overt" in the clashing of discourses. This is also seen in the colloquial headline of the main points box, 'Where all the money will go', with its suggestions of recklessness, and the headlines that emphasise the political aspect of the statement, including connotations of bribery with references to the 'Tax carrot'.

The Age and The Financial Review, however, have the same structure of participants and type of articles, along the horizontal and vertical axes as was found with The Australian and The Herald. The Review again has fact or news as Given, on the left, with opinion as New, on the right; The Age has a comment article in the less highly valued bottom section of the page but nonetheless occupying the realm of the Real. This type of structuring can be applied not only to page composition but to any representation of participants. Both cartoons, for example, have Keating on the left as actor and Given, with the "nation/electorate" as the New, or the goal of his actions.

The West Australian and The Telegraph Mirror

The final two papers I want to analyse are the tabloid papers, The Daily Telegraph Mirror and The West Australian. I will, however, examine two editions (the metro and late final) of The Mirror. The West has the headline, 'Keating pledges 800,000 new jobs' running across the page, with a two column lead story on the left with a close shot of the Prime Minister to the right. The far right of the page has a brief summary of two local stories with references to the full reports of the stories further into the paper. Above the headline is a banner of the main details of the economic statement with "abstract" representations of the details ('projects', 'aviation' and 'welfare').

The metro edition of The Mirror has the headline '$46 TAX CUT' across the top of the page. The left hand side of the page has a list of the main details of the economic statement headed 'AT A GLANCE' and above that a cartoon representation of Keating. On the right hand side is the lead story by Chief Political Reporter, Amanda Buckley. The late final edition has the headline 'THE BIG SELL' with a one column story by finance reporter Dan Brooks on the left with a close shot of Keating centred and the lead story on the right. The banner above the headline directs the reader further into the paper for stories on Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy's 'WORLD CUP AGONY' and a serialisation of Alistair MacLean's new novel.

The main photographs of Keating used by The West and The Mirror contrast sharply with the distanced shots of Keating in the formal context of parliament in The Australian and The Herald. The West's photograph does have a mood of offer and the Prime Minister is viewed from an oblique angle suggesting viewer-exclusion. However, an intimate or personal social distance between Keating and viewer is realised by a close shot which has been printed quite large and this is reinforced by the eye-level (or slightly low angle) of the photograph. This more "personal" representation of the Prime Minister also occurs in the late final edition of The Mirror which has Keating involved with the viewer through another close shot, an eye-level to slightly high angle, and frontal angle shot, offsetting to some degree the mood of offer. These conclusions about the visual representations are backed up by the fact that both papers (more so than the other "quality" papers) highlight in their lead stories the impact of the statement on families and the "average citizen". The West refers to 'Hard-hit families' and The Mirror has 'the Australian people and Recession-struck families' receiving 'a one-off gift' from Keating. The other papers analysed, with the exception of The Age, focus on the size of the package, its economic components and its impact on the economy. The West and The Mirror are also the only papers that refer to the Prime Minister using his first name in the "intro" paragraphs. It can be concluded then that these two tabloids structure a fit between the type of photographic representations and the story treatment of the economic statement.

This conclusion, however, does not necessarily apply for the other (metro) edition of The Mirror which uses the cartoon of the Prime Minister on the front page. This shows him in sartorial splendour, dressed in a sharp suit with several large rings on his right hand. The most interesting aspect about the cartoon is that, more so than any other image of Keating analysed, it positions him in a frontal angle suggesting inclusion or involvement with the viewer. This feature of the interactive meaning is, however, completely undercut by the mood of the representation which shows Keating not demanding the gaze of the viewer but instead casting a sideways glance. The frontal angle highlights the avoidance of the gaze and promotes connotations of being "shifty" or devious. But not only does the represented figure avoid the gaze of the viewer, the glance is directed away from the text of the story ('$125 gift for families') and off the side of the page, violating the previously mentioned "rules" of composition. The visual representation of Keating in effect builds a message which has him disassociating himself from the details of his statement. The significance of the gaze is, of course, ironically alluded to in the 'AT A GLANCE' heading of the summary of the main points directly under the cartoon. The high modality of the list of details is countered or diminished by the cartoon representation in much the same way as was illustrated with the cartoons of The Financial Review and The Age.

The West's front page visual representation raises further questions of modality as it is the only paper analysed to use colour photographs. Colour photographs considered in isolation, such as that in The West, at something less than full colour saturation within a naturalistic coding orientation, can be attributed unproblematically with high modality. However, such modality judgements are rendered problematic when compared with other press photographs due to the current shifting of coding orientations with photojournalism's move from black and white to colour photography. Previously, black and white news photographs have been considered to have high modality, judged within what one might label a "documentary" coding orientation. In this way, colour is judged to be an "aestheticising" of the image, distracting attention away from the "facts" of the representation. Now, however, with the rapid increase in the use of colour photography, press photographs are increasingly likely to be judged within a naturalistic coding orientation. One result is the use of black and white and colour news photography as a means of delineating "hard" and "soft" news respectively. The front and back pages aside, The West often employs colour photographs with human interest stories while more standard "political" news runs in black and white. This type of categorisation suggests that the documentary coding orientation still maintains some kind of priority.

The layouts of the tabloid papers are considerably more simple than the broadsheets. Like the previous papers examined, The West has the lead story in the place of the Given, on the left hand side. The Mirror, however, is at odds with the others in having the lead story in both editions on the right. This can be partly accounted for by the fact that the paper does not carry comment articles on the front page. The lead stories then are those elements of the texts where the greatest interpretation, or "contestation of paradigmatic values", occur. In this sense, the tabloid papers are less "subjective"; they provide more reportage and less comment than the "quality" papers. This represents a considerable twist on the historical perception that "quality" papers provide a more objective treatment of issues than tabloids, and points to the increasingly important role assumed by the "expertise" of a journalist in the value constructions of the professional practice.

It is often assumed that press photographs are merely an appendage to the story text and historically, in Australia at least, photojournalists have tended to be seen as "a breed apart" from other news makers. Indeed, it has been noted that they have traditionally been labelled "press photographers" rather than the more American term "photojournalist". This draws 'attention to the "journalistic" component of press photography and show[s] that newspaper photographers are just as much journalists as are their word reporter colleagues' (Griffin 76).

This paper has demonstrated that press photographs and illustrations are not just used in newspapers to provide a sense of balance, an aesthetic counterpoint to the real news. Rather, they should be viewed as discrete texts, the product of journalistic work, which consequently generate particular social meanings. Those meanings are independently realised and can be analysed through the application of a visual grammar. The purpose of such analyses is not simply to be able to tag photographs as a mood of offer or demand, but to show how texts position the reader, build relationships of solidarity and control, and attribute value to the events, happenings and people they portray. That is, such semiotic analyses are informed by the concern to show how the ideology of a culture is coded in the texts of that culture, and how the texts in turn work to reinforce and replenish such ideas and values.

But this is not to deny the existence of economic functions. These not only structure the principles of layout and design, but they also inform the mode of address of represented participants. The above analyses of mood show how, without exception, readers are drawn into a relationship with the expert journalists and "people like us", but are never directly engaged by the gaze of the Prime Minister. We come to the newspapers to find how we as political subjects will be affected by the economic statement, but we are addressed as readers of The Herald or The Mirror, and the text works to align our response to Keating with that of the newspaper's interpretation.

While the expressions of mood are constant in all the photographs and cartoons analysed, there is remarkable variability in the modality of the images. This applies not only to visual representations but also to story treatments of the economic statement. There do not seem to be styles of representation that are strictly common to particular types of newspapers (such as broadsheets or tabloids) apart from the noted similarities between the Australian and the Herald, and the West and the Mirror. It is interesting to note, however, how far the modality of the texts stray from, and problematise, the conventional dictates of journalistic objectivity. Cartoons and comment articles by "expert" journalists in the "quality" papers have moved from their traditional site of the editorial and "Op-Ed" pages to the front page. This may also counter the common argument that the direct political influence of newspapers has diminished with the decline of the importance of editorials. Instead of the single "authorless" editorial, readers more frequently encounter comment articles by named (and even pictured) journalists.

One possible general summary of the above analysis is that it has demonstrated the multi-functional character of newspapers. The commonly accepted function is that newspapers provide information and are the products of reporting. But newspapers do much more than inform in "neutral", "balanced" ways. They are also works of exposition and interpretation, using written text, photographs, cartoons and graphics to attribute value to the events and ideas reported. Newspapers are also structured to please the eye, to amuse and entertain. This mix of functions, I suggest, is structured by the status of the press as both instrument of democracy and generator of profits.


My thanks to Theo van Leeuwen for his comments in the process of writing this paper.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Basil. "Codes, Modalities and the Process of Cultural Reproduction: A Model", Language in Society, 10 (1981): 327-363.

Griffin, Grahame. "Neglected Yuppies or Lost Tribe? Towards a Study of Australian Press Photographers". Media Information Australia, 59 (Feb 1991): 75-80.

Halliday, M.A.K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold, 1985.

Hodge, Robert and Kress, Gunther. Social Semiotics. London: Polity Press, 1988.

Kress, Gunther and van Leeuwen, Theo. Reading Images. Geelong: Deakin U P, 1990.

Tiffen, Rodney. News and Power. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1989.

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