Image and Text – Exercise

Cut out some pictures from a newspaper and write your own captions.

  • How do the words you put next to the image contextualise/re-contextualise it?
  • How many meanings can you give to the same picture?
    Try the same exercise for both anchoring and relaying. Blog about it.

With so many images available to take from the media I decided to focus around a narrow, perhaps even singular theme to explore the concepts of Anchor and Relay.

Wanting to be topical I chose a number of images of presidential hopeful and now ‘GOP’ Presidential nominee; Donald Trump, love him or loathe him he is certainly not an unknown!

Some ideas about the idea of  Anchor

  • Anchor – In news stories the text that accompanies pictures is usually there to control meaning – to stop the image from being interpreted in a manner that isn’t in keeping with the political views of the newspaper, for example. In advertising this type of anchoring text is used to fix the meaning of the image into one clear and distinct message (i.e. why you should buy this product).

Trump- How can we trust this man with our nations future!

Trump- The only nominee not tainted by the contamination of the Washington machine


Trump- unfit for office , unqualified to lead, a disaster for our nation


Trump- the only candidate telling like it is, he can make America great again

I need to make it clear I am no fan of Donald Trump, but I hope the images and captions illustrate the concept of Anchor. An image is open to very wide interpretation as I have already discussed in this blog and in my EYV Blog here. Classic newsprint journals uses text, often in the form of a caption, although sometimes through headlines to shape the views interpretation and underrating of an image. The same image my have a different caption and different implied meaning in different parts of the press. Bias and influence are all part of the process of creating a narrative in the media. This might sound a touch cynical, but print and similarly, online news media ill in many cases have a political stance or position. Usually associated with the owners of the channel or press. to ensure they propagate their message caption are vital to shape a viewers interoperation of an image. the narrative is constructed within a political framework. I think my examples above, although simple illustrate this point, Key phrases and ideas provide a context in which to make sense of the an image. Indeed both of the images I used had very different actions in their sources.

Reflecting on the concept of Relay

  • Relay – In the second definition the text has equal status with the image. Image and text bounce off each other to create a fuller picture that allows for ambiguity and various interpretations. This is more in line with a postmodern view of narrative.


From state to state Trump is getting attention. Not all like his message , some just love it. Defining exactly who will vote for Trump is by no means easy. Some supporters are loud, but are there secret Trump supporters who will give him their vote but not admit to it in polite society? What ever the reality, the nation will know for certain in January 2017, until then we will just have to keep guessing!


In the text and image above I have tried to apply the idea of relay. the text is open ended, its doesn’t guide the reader to a particular viewpoint about either of the images. the images and text raise questions independently of each other and i think create some uncertainty ( may be not ambiguity, although the text attempts to). The reader is left to make their own mind up, the position of the author is nuetral and in the  text the author is doing what  Barthes (1967b) would describe as scripting.

I will return to these concepts but i can see within relay the idea o the postmodern, the author viewpoint and position are irrelevant and it is for the reader/viewer to make sense of what they are seeing, unfettered buy any intent by the author.


Boothroyd, S. (2015) Context and Narrative, Open College of the Arts, Barnsley

Barthes, R. (1967a) Rhetoric of the Image in Heath, S. (1977)  Image, Music, Text-Hill and Wang, New York

Barthes, R. (1967b) The Death of the Author. Found at: (Accessed June 2016)


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