How Were the Photos Coded?

Coding photographs is not an exact science.  

neutralpicC10SF

This photo, published by the San Francisco Chronicle, was coded as a “neutral” photograph as the action depicted is not complete and there are no discernable emotions on the players’ faces.

SportPix researchers coded each of the over 3,200 images* of the Super Bowl and the NCAA Championship game pinned to Pinterest with criteria both objective (e.g. ‘Who is pictured in the photo?’) and subjective (e.g. ‘How would you best describe the tone of the photo?’).

This study’s value is in the quantity of images assessed across 16 online news outlets during and after the Super Bowl and NCAA championship games. The researchers who evaluated the photos received training in coding images,  and even given the inevitable subjectivity of some of those measurements, the consistency of the survey mechanisms identified strong trend lines.

c2afc0c1a294938608db63e936b8d4ad

This photo from Yahoo of the NCAA championship game was coded as “slightly positive.” Note the athlete’s facial expression of joy, and the completed action of making a basket.

Those trends are identified throughout this study website.

For a sampling of photos coded by researchers see the photos below of the Super Bowl and NCAA championship game.

Researchers coded these photos with five rankings: very negative, slightly negative, neutral, slightly positive, very positive.  

The positive-negative ranking was arrived at via the coding of such visual elements as action and expression.  See below for a sampling of images coded in the five categories.  

Researchers additionally looked for trends in the tone of coverage by clustering the two “positive” categories and the two “negative” categories together.  Yet, at the end of the coding of the thousands of images, researchers observed that that the differences in WHAT was pictured, appeared to be more important than any differences in tone among the news outlets.

This takeaway stands in contrast to a similar ICMPA study conducted during the 2012 Presidential primaries and the general election.  In that study researchers noted significant differences across news outlets both in WHICH POLITICIANS were covered and HOW POSITIVELY (tone) they were covered.  See that PrezPix study here.

Note:  Clicking on the images below connects to the photo’s Pinterest location.

A sampling of photos from ESPN’s coverage of the Super Bowl  

An ESPN photo of Ravens player and coach coded as "very positive."

An ESPN photo coded as “very positive.”

Photo from the Super Bowl pre-game performance coded as "very positive."

An ESPN photo coded as “slightly positive.”

An ESPN photo coded as "neutral."

An ESPN photo coded as “neutral.”

An ESPN photo coded as "very negative."

An ESPN photo coded as “very negative.”

An ESPN photo of the Harbaugh brothers coded "slightly negative."

An ESPN photo coded as “slightly negative.”


A sampling of photos from Yahoo Sports’ coverage
of the NCAA Championship game

A Yahoo photo coded as "very positive."

A Yahoo photo coded as “very positive.”

A Yahoo photo coded as "slightly positive."

A Yahoo photo coded as “slightly positive.”

A Yahoo photo coded as "neutral."

A Yahoo photo coded as “neutral.”

A Yahoo photo coded as "slightly negative."

A Yahoo photo coded as “slightly negative.”

A Yahoo photo coded as "very negative."

A Yahoo photo coded as “very negative.”


(See here for a more in-depth explanation of the methodology of this study.)


NB:  The total number of photos pinned to Pinterest during both the Super Bowl and NCAA championship game is  3,274.  Researchers applied the same collection methodology for all the news outlets studied.  It is likely that the researchers on this survey did not collect every photograph published, and, on occasion, certain photographs that could be viewed were not collectible by Pinterest.  The total number of photographs studied, therefore, should be understood to be representative of those published on the news outlets, not an absolute set of all photographs published on all sites.  
It is fair to note, however, that the number of photographs of any individual player or team collected for any given site is a rough indication of the commitment of that site to photographically covering that individual player or team.
 
Advertisements