Routine and individual-level influences on newspaper front-page images: Wire photographs, staff photojournalism, race and gender

Abstract: This study uncovers routine and individual-level influences upon the content of U.S. front-page images. This examination is justified by a news-image environment increasingly dominated by a small number of central agencies and with a lack of photojournalist diversity. At the routine level, differences are assessed based on whether images are taken by an on-staff photojournalist or a wire photographer. At the individual level, differences are assessed based on the photographer’s race and gender. The visual content studied includes three general categories: photojournalistic news values (presence of people, activity of persons of people in the image, whether eye contact is portrayed, emotional hierarchy, and topic), representation (race and gender of people or persons in the image), and visual elevation (circulation of the image in which the image appears, image usage, and image topic). Results of the study show a number of significant routine-level differences, but fewer differences based on the individual characteristics of the photojournalist, which primarily pertain to the representation of subjects.