An Assessment Of Photographs And Cartoons As Communication Instruments

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

An Assessment Of Photographs And Cartoons As Communication Instruments: A Study Of The Guardian Newspaper


Photographs in news stories can stimulate opinion change, either making a reader love the good advertised, or making the reader hate it. In view of the foregoing, this study sought to ascertain an “Assessment of Readers Perception on the use of photographs in Nigerian Newspapers. The population of this study in Enugu metropolis was about 123 but 119 readers participated in the study. The objectives of the study were: To ascertain if the use of photographs in Nigerian newspapers contribute to attracting attention of newspaper readers in Enugu Metropolis; To determine if newspaper readers view photographs in newspaper as space fillers or as aid to readers’ understanding, To ascertain if newspaper readers view photographs in newspaper as aiding credibility to stories or they are used for aesthetic appeal. The survey research design was adopted for the study; data for the study was sourced from primary sources, while data was analyzed using simple tables, frequency percentage. Source Credibility Theory was used as a model of analysis. The study found out that readers have different reactions to written words and pictures that are displayed on Nigerian newspapers. It was subsequently recommended that proper training be given to journalist to enhance their competence in the field of practice, placement of photograph should represent the idea contained in the text and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) should investigate obstacles to the flow of information on print media, ethical and professional standards in the media must be upheld.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problems
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Scope of the Study
  • 1.6 Significance of the
  • 1.7 Definition of Terms

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Review of Concepts
  • 2.3 Review of Related Studies
  • 2.4 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.5 Gap in Literature
  • 2.6 Summary

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Research Design
  • 3.3 Population of the Study
  • 3.4 Sample and Sampling Techniques
  • 3.5 Description of Research Instrument
  • 3.6 Validity and Reliability of Data Gathering Instrument
  • 3.7 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.8 Method of Data Presentation and Analysis

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Analysis of Bio Data
  • 4.3 Analysis of Data From Survey (Field)
  • 4.4 Discussion of Findings

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Summary
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 5.4 Recommendations
  • 5.5 Suggestions for Further Studies
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Newspaper
  • Seminar Paper

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

No branch of journalism requires so much knowledge and skill than picture reporting. The industrial revolution played a significant role in the development of press photography according to (Gelnshain, 2002), the first book with lithographic illustration (pictures) appeared in 1840. The photographs were selected on the basis of the criteria of in testing subjects, which stabilizes presentation. After this pioneering indeed, two publications, London labour and the London poor, appeared in British critical study. The use of photographs as a graphical presentation started with books, according to peter (2009.p,6) the application of this experience in periodical came; surprisingly fast in May, 1842. This was when Herbet Ingram founded the famous illustrated London news. The publication relied heavily on pictorial information.

According to Anderson (2014.p,140) Photojournalism is an arm of journalism that uses images to tell stories and report events. It is different from other forms of photography such as commercial, Architecture and industrial photography. This could be seen in its adherence to certain journalism norms like News, Timeliness Objectivity, fairness and accurate representation of the events.

Photojournalism involves the use of camera to record events as they happen. Like a news reporter, a photojournalist is a reporter but he or she writes with camera and disseminates news events through images. Photojournalists use pictures to tell stories interpret event and communicate their feelings about the society as Journalists hoping for a better society (Harding, 2012).

The advent of photographs mechanically printed into newspapers opened up market for press photography. Pictures were mostly taken for their action and content rather than any aesthetic consideration. Today, they are used in the newspapers for different reasons. The other factor was the introduction, by George Eastman, of small cameras in use at that time. Thus, convenient cameras gave photojournalists the freedom to record news events easily and quickly.

The technological advancement enabled them to also take pictures which were previously impossible to take such as night and moving images. One of the foremost photojournalist was a Frenchman, Henri Cartier –Bresson, who from 1930 to 2004 worked to document what he called the “decisive moment”. Cartier-Bresson believed that the dynamics in any given situation eventually reach a peak, at which a photographer will capture the most powerful image possible.

Photojournalists have become visual interpreters, using their cameras and knowledge to bring readers a feeling of what an event was really like. Meanwhile, in the past, the photojournalist depended on artists to draw replicas of his photograph, which was later reproduced by an engraver into a Zinc plate, (Aliagan, 2006). The plate was then printed on a Hoe rotary press. Due to the long process, several days passed before these line-drawn renderings of photographs appeared on the front-page of the newspaper.

The growth of photography and photojournalism can be traced to two major factors that occurred near the end of the 19th century. The first is the technical innovation. This includes the invention of roll film, smaller cameras, faster lens and the perfection of the half tone process of printing photographs as a series of light and dark dots which allowed newspaper publishers to reproduce photographs quickly and inexpensively.

Photographs in Journalism inform, educate and enlighten readers about current issues and also reflect on the past as well. Photographs in Newspaper enhance the credibility of the stories. As they depict reality, they also furnish evidence to show the authenticity of a news story or give proof of an event that occurred. Its aesthetic values enable a photograph to serve as a tool to attract reader’s attention and break the monotony of news content. Thus, photographs enhance and beautify the pages of a newspaper (Gervais, 2005). Beyond the active construction in the creation of the image in front of the camera, photo editing in programs like Adobe Photoshop are almost roundly rejected by ethics in photojournalism. This issue can be debated, but standard photo post-production elements such as smoothing out wrinkles on a person’s face, enhancing the colors of a location, or changing the contrast could all be considered clear violations of ethics in photojournalism. There have been many major cases in recent years of photojournalists being let go from major publications for the most minor alterations during photo editing. An example of this could be a color alteration to a photo where the sky color could be changed. This change in sky color could indicate or diminish the appearance of pollution, it could change the interpretation of the season, and it could even shift the perspective of the subjects Bose, (2002). All of these changes would be the anti-thesis of the structure of the photojournalist project and would violate it on a critical level. Photo editing can be used in certain situations, but it should remain incredibly minor if it wants to fit the strict ethical standards that have been associated with photojournalism.

A photograph in Newspaper speaks more than a thousand words. No formal education is required to understand a picture. Photographs are therefore able to break through literacy barrier to effectively communicate a message. It is a universal language.

Cartoons are non verbal graphic communication channels that express the opinions, views and findings of a media organization. They are used to advance an opinion in funny ways and are often based on current, burning and topical issues. They are used basically to educate, inform and entertain the audience by the print media (Emi, 2008).
Also, the need for investigative journalism has placed emphasis on the watchdog role of newspaper due to the fact that there are two sides of human namely: the godly and the animalistic side of human to behave in good manners but the animalistic side of the human is the evil side which can be seen in different wrong doings or atrocities of man.

It also shows the human urge to dominate, satisfy base instincts of huger, wealth acquisition and their evil or erotic desires. Human beings are expected to be rational but their rationality cannot always guarantee good conduct because most times, the animalistic tendencies in them prevail. Hence the needs for mass media to expose evil and t bring perpetrators to justice so that the human societies do not become the animal kingdom and full of evil.

There is also the need to check the excesses of the powerful or privileged people against the less privileged ones to hold rulers accountable to their people to bring about social reforms to expose crime and other wrong doings and to act as voice for the voiceless etc. (Aina 2001).

Also, the belief in the saying that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt nation of the world is not an exaggeration. International organizations have consistently testified to this undeniable fact to confirm the claims of these organizations, the country has witnessed different types of corrupt practices. This must have baffled the past regime led by chief Olusegun Obasajo so much that he thought it is necessary to establish organizations that could fight corrupt practices among citizens two of these organization are independent corrupt practice commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial crimes commission (EECC). After operating for few years, many have come to describe these as an organization of toothless bulldog.

The only organizations that Nigerians can fall back on or depends on, is the press which has been battling corruption with its in-depth news reporting opinion, comments, editorial, editorial cartoon etc.

Watson, (2008) Says that the media is prominent among the public arbiters for our behavior. Many have also found cartoons on newspaper to be equally up to the task of acting as the society watchdog. It is therefore imperative against the already established background to ascertain reader’s perception of the use of photographs and cartoons, specifically in the Nigerian Newspapers.

1.2 Statement of the Problems

The study will examine the effects and significance of crime illustration in enhancing the role of newspaper cartoons as watchdog in the society. It is to ascertain the impact of comic illustration on readers and the level to which cartoons have acted as watchdog of the society.

Visuals can have a dramatic impact on a reader’s involvement and feelings towards an event or issue. Images on newspapers have a powerful impact on readers’ attitude and understanding, and this impact and understanding cannot be created by text alone. In a news context, the presence of a photograph can significantly affect the consumer’s attitude towards the framed issue. While some readers might perceive pictures in newspapers as a support for the texts, others perceive it as something used in filling up the newspaper and making the pages numerous. To some also, it is just an act which serves to draw attention to a big story and to further illustrate statements made in the story and give the readers’ more details about the information presented.

This study was conceived to ascertain the perception of newspaper readers in Enugu metropolis of the use of photographs in Nigerian newspapers.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

  1. To ascertain if the use of photographs and cartoons in Nigerian newspapers contribute to attracting attention of newspaper readers in Enugu Metropolis.
  2. To determine if newspaper readers view photographs and cartoons in newspapers as space fillers or as aid to readers’ understanding.
  3. To ascertain if newspaper readers view photographs and cartoons in newspapers as aiding credibility to stories or they are used for aesthetic appeal.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. To what extent does the use of photographs and cartoons in Nigerian newspapers contribute to attracting the attention of newspaper readers in Enugu metropolis?
  2. How do newspaper readers view this use of photographs and cartoons as space filler or aid to readers’ understanding?
  3. How do newspaper readers view photographs and cartoons in newspapers as aiding credibility of stories or for aesthetic appeal?

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is focused on assessing photographs and cartoons as communication instruments in Nigerian Newspapers. The researcher chose to limit the study to newspaper readers in Enugu East metropolis. Further research can focus on newspaper readers in other parts of the state and other states of the nation.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is considered relevant for various reasons.

  1. It will contribute to available literature on the use of photographs and cartoons in newspapers. Specifically, it will fill the gap in literature on the perception of the use of newspapers in newspaper as held by newspaper readers in Enugu metropolis.
  2. For print media practitioners, it could throw some additional light that will guide their use of photographs in newspapers and other print media vehicles.

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms


A picture created by projecting an image onto a photosensitive surface such as a chemically treated plate or film, CCD receptor etc.


A publication usually published daily or weekly and usually printed on cheap, low – quality paper, containing news and other articles.


A form of journalism in which a story is told primarily through photographs and other images.


People who read newspapers.


The process of news gathering and dissemination through publication to a specific audience.


Organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information.


The act of assessing something.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

The aim of this study was to “assess of photographs and cartoons as communication instruments in Nigerian newspapers”. In carrying out the study, the researcher adopted the survey research design, using the questionnaire for data gathering. Following the analysis of data and discussion of findings, this chapter concerns itself with the summary, conclusion and recommendations for adoption.

5.2 Summary of Findings

The findings among others showed that:

  1. Majority of the respondents in Enugu metropolis pay attention to photographs in newspapers.
  2. Readers have different reactions to pictures that are displayed on Nigerian newspapers.
  3. Pictures are important to newspaper readers because the use of photographs on newspapers helps to get the reaction that readers feel about it.
  4. People are attracted to photographs on newspapers pages. More so, the introduction of professional journalism has made the face of newspaper today a standard one.

5.3 Conclusion

The findings of this study demonstrates that photographs communicate more than one thousand words and therefore play a crucial role in drawing the attention of readers to the most prominent news. Furthermore, pictures do have a strong influence on photojournalism, and readers in Enugu East have proven to understand news more coherently when photographs are used to deduce the message.

5.4 Recommendations

A research work involves an investigation geared towards increasing knowledge and providing ideas to solve problems. From this fact, coupled with an enthusiastic desire to ensure confirmatory evidence on this study, it is therefore deemed fit to make recommendations as follows:

  1. Visual images on newspapers must be reflective of the message it tends to pass to its numerous readers. A photograph on a newspaper page must connote the same message with the write-up that explains it.
  2. The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) must ensure that obstacles to the flow of information are investigated; ethical and professional standards in the media must be upheld.
  3. For the sake of professionalism, certain standard of learning and expectations must be met to be qualified as photojournalist.

5.5 Suggestion for Further Studies

The researcher suggests that further studies should be carried out on professional and ethical standards in the media.

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