Department of Management

Visual Crisis Communication in the Scandinavian Press: Images of the MS Estonia Disaster

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This study marks a shift in research focus from verbal to visual aspects in crisis communication and contributes to the emerging field of visual crisis communication by exploring the use of images in the Scandinavian press when reporting on and/or commemorating a disaster. We used rhetorical arena theory (RAT) and a social semiotic approach to visual analysis to investigate how fifteen newspapers from Sweden, Norway and Denmark visualised the MS Estonia disaster ten, fifteen and twenty years after the sinking of the ship. We examined 93 images published on the anniversaries in 2004, 2009 and 2014 to determine what kinds of images accompanied the press reports and how these changed over time. The results demonstrate that the images, which changed considerably over time, represented the disaster both as an irreversible loss and as a process with a strong symbolic value.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordicom Review
Pages (from-to)91-109
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Crisis communication, Rhetorical arena theory, Scandinavian press, Social semiotics, Visual communication

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