The Coverage of Flight 387: A Narrative of Tragedy

In what manner may narrative theory be applied to visual research? This digital story tackles the various ways in which newspapers construct stories through the use of visuals and text. Using a case study of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s coverage of the Cebu Pacific flight 387 crash in 1998, it ultimately aims to raise questions about how a newspaper churns out a narrative of tragedy as informed by the dominant discourse of what remains to be “newsworthy”. By using a pool of data (composed of news photographs, headlines and captions) within a three-week period, it focuses on the narrative logic of a Filipino newspaper in the portrayal of a national tragedy.

What is implicitly woven throughout this analysis is a deeply personal narrative as well. As a researcher deeply imbricated in her topic of study, the challenge to eliminate, or at least minimize bias becomes even more herculean. ‘Data’, here, is not simply a pool of images, or headlines, or words to be dissected—but just like Barthes’ punctum, it is “that accident which pricks, bruises me”.

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