This study uses news photographs and interviews with journalists to explore how Australia’s unprecedented 2019–2020 bushfire season was depicted for Australian and non-Australian audiences in order to extend transnational understanding of iconicity’s tenets and how news values vary across contexts. It does so first by examining the Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage over 3 months and then by contrasting this with international coverage that began in early 2020 once the issue spilled onto the world stage. Australia’s coverage focused intensely on human actors involved in the disaster while the vast numbers of affected animals were virtually absent. In contrast, international media visually depicted the disaster as an environmental and ecological issue with global consequences. The results suggest a need for a definition of iconicity that is inclusive to non-human actors and to inanimate forces that are personified. It also extends our cross-cultural understanding of the visual expression of news values.
Thomson, T. J. (2021). Picturing destruction at home and abroad: a comparative visual analysis of icons and news values during disaster. Media International Australia, 181(1), 197–216. https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X211008181