American social media on the Russia-Ukraine war: A multimodal analysis

Keywords: interactive discourse, multimodality, political Telegram channel, Russia-Ukraine war, semiotic resource

Abstract

This research focuses on political narrative about the Russia-Ukraine war in American social media. It aims to investigate the type and configuration of multimodal semiotic resources used to present the events of this war and shape their perception by the audience, primarily American; The New York Times Telegram channel coverage of the 2022 Russian invasion as a case study. What kind of semiotic resources do American social media deploy to construct the narrative about the war? What are the dominant post formats, how they deploy information about the Russia-Ukraine war and construe its perception: the concepts of the war, of Ukraine as a victim of aggression and a fighter for independence, of Russia as a terrorist-state, and of their allies and opponents? Theoretically, this study is underpinned by a cognitive-semiotic, political linguistic and multimodal approach. In political media narrative, storytelling shapes perception of war realities: it frames and reframes the readers’ construal of the world, ascribes connotations to facts and events. A multimodal narrative involves different semiotic resources—verbal, graphic, audial, and cinematographic (in video). The configuration of these heterogeneous signs in a particular Telegram channel’s post defines its influence as predominantly rational or emotional. The findings show that the following post formats are typical for The New York Times Telegram channel: image followed by text and link to another site (the most frequent); gallery (a gallery of images) and quote (a quotation with its source/author as the title) (less frequent); video and audio (rarely used). They serve to accentuate, elaborate, and extend the information in the post.  I argue that Telegram posts together with users’ emoji-reactions are a specific interactive genre of a multimodal political discourse. Emojis realize both pragmatic and cognitive functions: on the one hand, they are effective instruments to measure users’ reaction; on the other, they contribute to meaning-making by evaluating and making salient the concepts described. The dominance of rational and verified information in The New York Times Telegram channel creates the true image of Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine and provides a fair assessment of related concepts.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Berger, J. (2016). Invisible influence: The hidden forces that shape behavior. New York, London, Toronto, etc.: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Crying face (n.d.). Emojipedia. Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/crying-face/

Dijk, T. A. van (2008). Discourse and context: A sociocognitive approach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Divjak, D., Milin, P., & Medimorec, S. (2020). Construal in language: A visual-world approach to the effects of linguistic alternations on event perception and conception. Cognitive Linguistics, 31(1), 37-72. https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2018-0103

Groth, S. (2019). Political narratives / narrations of the political: An introduction. Narrative Culture, 6(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.13110/narrcult.6.1.0001

Herasimenka, A., Bright, J., Knuutila, A., & Howard, P.N. (2022). Misinformation and professional news on largely unmoderated platforms: The case of Telegram. Journal of information technology and politics, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2022.2076272

Herrero-Solana, V., & Castro-Castro, C. (2022). Telegram channels and bots: A ranking of media outlets based in Spain. Societies, 12(6), 164. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc12060164

How we verify our reporting on the Ukraine war (2022, March 11). The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/11/world/europe/ukraine-war-journalism.html?action

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London & New York: Routledge.

Krysanova, T. (2019). Constructing negative emotions in cinematic discourse: a cognitive-pragmatic perspective. Cognition, communication, discourse, 19, 55-77. https://doi.org/10.26565/2218-2926-2019-19-04

Lakoff, G., & Turner, M. (1989). More than cool reason. A field guide to poetic metaphor. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Moschini, I., & Sindoni, M. G. (Eds.) (2022). Mediation and multimodal meaning making in digital environments. Routledge.

Neudert, L.-M., Howard, P., & Kollanyi, B. (2019). Sourcing and automation of political news and information during three European elections. Social Media + Society, 5(3). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119863147

O’Halloran, K. L. (2011). Multimodal analysis and digital technology. In A. Baldry, & E. Montagna (Eds.). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Multimodality: Theory and Practice (pp. 1-26). Campobasso: Palladino.

Post Formats (n.d.). Retrieved from https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/functionality/post-formats/

Red Heart (n.d.). Emojipedia. Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/red-heart/

Shenhav, S. R. (2006). Political narratives and political reality. International Political Science Review, 27(3), 245-262. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192512106064474

Shevchenko, I., & Gutorov, V. (2019). A cognitive-pragmatic perspective on apologies in English and Ukrainian discourse. Lege artis. Language yesterday, today, tomorrow. The journal of University of SS Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, IV (2), 301-341.

Thinking face (n.d.). Emojipedia. Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/thinking-face/

Thumbs Down (n.d.). Emojipedia. Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/search/?q=thumbs-down

Thumbs Up (n.d.). Emojipedia. Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/search/?q=thumbs-up

Zhabotynska, S., & Ryzhova, O. (2022). Ukraine and the West in pro-Russia Chinese media: A methodology for the analysis of multimodal political narratives. Cognition, communication, discourse, 24, 115-139. https://doi.org/10.26565/2218-2926-2022-24-09

Zhabotynska, S., & Slyvka, N. (2020). Emotive speech acts and their discourse modifications in the literary text. Discourse and Interaction, 13(1), 113-136. https://doi.org/10.5817/DI2020-1-113

Published
2022-12-30
How to Cite
Shevchenko, I. (2022). American social media on the Russia-Ukraine war: A multimodal analysis. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (25), 65-79. https://doi.org/10.26565/2218-2926-2022-25-06

Most read articles by the same author(s)