semiotics『media framing』

Semiotics; the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. This ‘science of signs’ is essential to global communication. Symbols convey a message to an audience through the preconceived connotations and widely accepted meanings behind them. However, our interpretation of a visual cue or image may be somewhat dependent on our ideologies or worldview. Many complex images attempt to convey a message in an interesting but more subtle way than a globally recognised symbol would, creating a visual with deeper meaning and nuance than, for example, a road sign. This also leaves multiple ways to read or interpret whats placed before an individual.

Media Framing. Source

This particular image about media framing uses only visuals without text to critique frame manipulation in television media… or, could it possibly be scrutinising not the media, but passive and naive mass consumers of television programming? Perhaps both. However it’s predominately read by an individual, the interpretation will usually depend on ideology and personal experience.

The denotation of this image; three figures, the first behind a camera watching an altercation, the second holding a knife and pursuing the third, who flees their attacker. However, when observed through the lens of the camera, the cleverly placed silhouettes cause the roles of the two figures to be reversed. The camera is a symbol that is connotative of television media, and the literal ‘framing’ of the camera is a reference to the meaning of the word itself, and how it is used to define the media’s presentation of content to create a common perception in ‘media framing’ theory.

An example of the ‘manipulative framing’ issue that this image brought to mind can be seen for your own amusement below. It’s no wonder audiences have become so critical of current news media practices.


Sign Salad. (2018). Semiotics explained.

University of Texas at Austin. (2012). Framing. Youtube