Public Places of 2011– Reinventing the Story : An Analysis of Social Gatherings represented in Photographic Essays of Al Jazeera English
Despite the emergence of new technologies and an existing scholarly debate around their ability to facilitate social gatherings, public places within cities did not cease to exist as important physical locations for society. This is powerfully illustrated by the year 2011, in which people gathered all around the globe, sometimes aiming to topple governments, sometimes demonstrating unity in times of crisis. What we learn about those places has been captured in visually compelling stories on the website of Al Jazeera English. This study explores the reinvention of social gatherings in public places through media narratives and what those can tell us about the events that inspire people to take to the streets and the others they encounter there. The theoretical discussion is organized around the social construction of public place and how global media affects the ways in which we perceive distant realities. Those two realms come together in the empirical analysis, which is based on 115 photo essays of 2011 by Al Jazeera English’s format “In Pictures”. The results indicate that Al Jazeera creates distinct media narratives, which sometimes challenge or reinforce audiences’ and researchers’ common perceptions of public place and contribute to an understanding of the intersecting realms of media, time and places in an untold story of 2011.
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