The Contextual Web: A background of intersecting historical and journalistic strands

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The Contextual Web: A background of intersecting historical and journalistic strands

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The Contextual Web: A background of intersecting historical and journalistic strands
Anderson, Anne W. ( Author )
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1 online resource (3 pages)


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Education -- Research ( lcsh )
Semiotics ( lcsh )


Editorial cartoons—a type of cross-modal, non-linear text—are produced within the context of their times and within the context of the journalism industry; Cro-MENDA recognizes and incorporates the contextual web within the method of study.

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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I19-00004 ( USFLDC DOI )
i19.4 ( USFLDC Handle )

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1 The Contextual Web: A background of i ntersecting historical and journalistic strands Editorial cartoons a type of cross modal, non linear text are produced within the context of their times and within the context of the journalism industry; Cro MENDA recognizes and incorporates the contextual web within the method of study. Editorial cartoonist s create cross modal, non linear cartoons to comment ( or editorialize) on a current socio cultu ral (including political) events. I used Cross Modal Ethnographic Narrative Document Analysis ( Cro MENDA ) to study editorial cartoons wi thin the context of thei r times and within the context of the journalism industry 's processes Historical Context Wineburg (2011) noted that we have a tendency to either make unwarranted assumptions about the past, based on our present understanding of the world, or we make the past world so strange as to make it irrelevant to our present world. A phenomenological approach to the past cautions the researcher to acknowledge and "bracket" such assumptions as part of the work. Wineburg (2011) noted trained historians take these bracketed assumptions and use a metho d of "intertextual weave" (p. 7) that compares and contrasts the work with other work produced contemporary to the document in order to arrive at an historical understanding of the work. Other methods historians use are similar to those based on Mead's t heories of symbolic interaction such as "tak[ing] the role of the actor and see[ing] his world from his standpoint" (Blumer, 1973, p. 542) and on Pokorn 's (2011) hermeneutical process of examining the vario us layers of a text, including researching the contextual layer. [ See MapIcon for a discussion of underlying theories .] For example as I described the narrative of the circled area of the cartoon shown on this page, I termed the ladder an extension ladder. Even as I was typing the word extension ho wever, I mentally bracketed and physically highlighted the term as an assumption based on my experience working in the construction industry. [ See CubeIcon for a discussion of methods .] I t did not seem to be a folding step ladder as it did not have a top platform and it rested on the bottom frame of the cartoon an somewhat sarcastic device on the part of the cartoonist. But was it a telescoping extension ladder or merely a straight ladder? Figure 2 indicates I discovered that telescoping ladde rs were inven ted in 1867, increasing the probability that the cartoonist intended viewers to perceive an extension ladder [ See PuzzleIcon for a discussion of elements .] Web Icon Figure 1 "Marching on to Washington, by SAV, published in the Appeal to Reason February 12, 1910, p. 1 tells a story that is set within a particular historic and journalistic context.


2 Journalistic Processes Morris (1989) defined an editorial cartoon as "a professional drawing, usu ally humorous and political, which appears on the editorial page of a newspaper" (p. 3) Thus, while editorial cartoons reflect an opinion by the cartoonist, they also indicate a business relationship between publisher and cartoonist and decisions of placement and prominence on the part of an editor. Navasky (2013) suggested editorial cartoo ns that caricature political figures provoke a disproportionate response, suggesting their contribution toward an agenda setting press. Each of these parts of the process also must be considered in analyzing an editorial cartoon. As a journalist, I am awa re of the potential First Amendment conflict between the government's distributing mailed periodicals and the right of the people to have a free press but what was the situation in 1910? Figure 2 shows similar concerns in 1910 led to the cartoon's topic an d note the two, rather different, views of historic decisions. This discovery lead to questions about the agenda setting role newspapers play in society. Figure 2. The "Explanation of highlighted words/phrases" portion of the data collection protocol illustrates the kind of research needed when working with historical documents.


3 Cross modal ethnographic narrative document analysis (CroMENDA) provides a structured approach to identifying, selecting, and analyzing documents, defined by Altheide and Schneider (2012) as "any symbolic representation that can be recorded or retrieved for analysis" (p. 5), including such symbolic representations as "footpaths worn in grass, dog eared pages in books, and other unobtrusive indicators" (p. 7). Grounded in Iser's (2006) explanation of soft theory and based on Altheide and Schneider's (2012) ethnographic content analysis, which they used to analyze television news footage, on Rodriguez and Dimitrova's levels of visual framing, and on Mead's theories of symbol ic interaction (Blumer, 1996), I developed CroMENDA to understand editorial cartoons from two early 20 th century newspapers. I first wandered through the individual cartoons, following paths suggested by the elements within the cartoon, by the cultural con text in which it was created, and by my own unique mental faculties and predispositions. I made field notes of my wanderings, coded narratives describing the cross modal stylistic choices made by cartoonist, the cultural/historical context in which the car toon was set, and my own suppositions as I placed myself in the position of the actor/cartoonist and/or of the role/character. I then pieced together the narratives to detect topics and to discern themes and to determine frames through which the topics and themes were presented. From this field note mapping and piecing together of narratives, I discussed ideological stances and discourses found in the collection References Altheide, D. L., & Schneider, C. J. (2012). Qualitative media analysis (2 nd ed.). L os Angeles, CA: Sage. Blumer, H. (1973). Sociological implications of the thought of George Herbert Mead. American Sociological Review, 71 (5), 535 544. Iser, W. (2006). How to do theory. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Navasky, V. S. (2013). The art of controversy: Political cartoons and their enduring power New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Pokorn P. (2011). Hermeneutics as a theory of understanding. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Rodriguez, L., & Dimitrova, D. (2011). The levels of visual framing. Journal of Visual Literacy, 30 (1), 48 65. Wineburg, S. S. (2001). Historical thinking and other unnatural acts: Charting the future of teaching the past. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.


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