Pietrzak-Franger, Monika – A ‘Visiodemic’ : COVID-19, Contagion Media, and the British Press

Monika Pietrzak-Franger

Full Link: https://doi.org/10.33675/ANGL/2021/3/15


“No one is immune against images” (Franzen 2020) – their power stems from their immediacy, their lingering claim for truth, authenticity, and objectivity, from their role as a witness; but also from their ability to capture attention, to convey large amounts of information in a short time, and from their high emotional appeal (Cassinger and Thelander 2015; cf. Flynn 2019). This is also what makes them dangerous: even in our post-truth society (see e.g. McIntyre 2018), images continue to be taken at face value by a majority of the population. Still, images perform complex argumentative and rhetorical work. Since they can spread fast, especially in times of Web 4.0 and convergence culture (cf. Jenkins 2006), their rhetorical force should be taken into consideration, especially in the context of the recent pandemic. The corona pandemic is the most (medially) visible of all the pandemics so far. Indeed, in mid-February 2020, the character of reporting on the unfolding crisis changed: sparse, mainly verbal reports that speckled the ‘pages’ of the British press transformed into a visual deluge – a visiodemic – almost overnight. Highly affective imageries began to dominate online (and offline) spaces.