These words of 56-year-old runner Gary Allen described the scene near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. His description turns out to be true for news performance as well, as images of the Boston Marathon Bombing are focused on casualties, destruction, and emotions through pictures of crying children or ailing elderly citizens. According to Neumann & Fahmy (2012: 180) these are all characteristics of a dominant war frame in visual news media. Additionally a prominent frame of “patriotism” can be found in news outlets as well. Opposing to Chrissie’s post, stories of heroism and selflessness following the bombings support a “patriotic” frame and further polarize the public to rally behind “us versus them”.
Contrary to literature on visual framing, suggesting that media from different cultural and political perspectives create different images of war and conflict, this seems not to hold true in times of crisis. Assuming the bombings as a newsworthy conflict, recent media performance shows signs of news consolidation similar to the aftermath of 9/11. Entman’s (1991) assumption that “photojournalist may follow guidelines of objectivity, but still communicate a dominate news frame” seems to hold especially true in current circumstances.
Is this loss of objectivity in media justified by using the power of visuals to influence public attention and perception to support national interests in times of crisis? Or do (private) media simply follow the public demand for patriotic heroism?