Thomas Palmer, M.S., Digital Media Lecturer from the Journalism Program at the University at Albany, SUNY, and Editorial Design Director / News Editor at the Times Union newspaper introduces you to his chapter in Metaliterate Learning in the Post-Truth World: When Stories and Pictures Lie Together — And You Don’t Even Know It.
The photo in the tweet triggers your path to deception in as little as 13 milliseconds. Your brain dedicates about 85% of its processing to make sense of this picture. Your comprehension of its text finally catches up, but you’ll likely believe the false claim merely because the image is present. Confirmation bias settles in. You have just fallen prey within seconds to the intersemiotic contextual misrepresentation of photojournalism — and you weren’t even aware. This targeted disinformation to manipulate you is a success. In this post-truth era, the weaponizing of legitimate photojournalism for political and social propaganda is easy and low tech. However, in this chapter metaliterate learners can develop judgment for identifying and exposing this malpractice to protect themselves and the public.
The relationship between text and image is dynamic and complementary, while also leading to misrepresentations. This chapter analyzes the synergistic association of several visual-textual examples from photojournalism to illustrate how images are easily manipulated and misunderstood. Metaliteracy is discussed as an empowering pedagogical response to these concerns that supports learners in developing detection and prevention strategies.