FMC Research Seminar: ‘Discussing photographs of soldier transgressions in the news with British military, families and veterans’, Wed, 25 Nov, 3-4pm Talbot Campus.

Communicating Research:
FMC Research Seminar Series 2015-16
Time: Wednesday, 25 November, 3-4 pm
Venue: The Screening Room W240, Weymouth House, Talbot Campus.
A Politics and Media Research Centre event:

Katy Parry, University of Leeds

‘Discussing photographs of soldier transgressions in the news with British military, families and veterans’

This presentation draws on a press photo story of alleged soldier transgressions in Afghanistan to explore both the mainstream media presentation of leaked soldier-produced photographs, and the reactions to this photo-story garnered from group interviews with serving media operations personnel, veterans’ groups and forces families. The photographs apparently depict a British RAF serviceman posing next to a ‘dead Taliban fighter’. Primarily concerned with the visual representation of soldiering in the news and what we can learn from the responses of those with direct experience of war and its after-effects, I contend that the news treatment of this snapshot style imagery presents a particularly rich example through which to explore the unsettling relationship that the press and public have with the act of killing in war, and the jarring discomfort experienced when ‘our boys’ are shown to not only take part in seemingly reprehensible activities, but to picture themselves enjoying such acts.

Whilst the larger project that this paper draws upon is concerned with a range of media genres (film, documentary, comedy, social media), this particular case deals with newspaper journalism. I am concerned here with the represented experience of war for the soldier ‘on the ground’ and the responses to such media portrayals. In the age of more personalised media, peer-to-peer sharing, YouTube memes and citizen witnessing, the perceptions of military personnel and emotional connections with civilian audiences are formed through a more varied and unpredictable media ecology and a hybrid set of production and viewing practices. Shifting focus from the traditional institutional relationships (say, between the state and journalism) to mainstream media handling of individual soldiers’ transgressions also acknowledges the attempted media management of more vernacular and affective qualities (i.e. how soldiers appear in the media as individual moral actors and the emotional responses stimulated).

Katy Parry lectures in Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. Her work focuses on visual politics and how ‘frames of war’ circulate in public culture. She is a co-author of Pockets of Resistance: British News Media, War and Theory in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq (with Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Craig Murray and Philip Taylor, Manchester University Press, 2010), and Political Culture and Media Genre: Beyond the News (with Kay Richardson and John Corner, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).


About the series

This new seminar series showcases current research across different disciplines and approaches within the Faculty of Media and Communication at BU. The research seminars include invited speakers in the fields of journalism, politics, narrative studies, media, communication and marketing studies.  The aim is to celebrate the diversity of research across departments in the faculty and also generate dialogue and discussion between those areas of research.


Contributions include speakers on behalf of 

The Centre for Politics and Media Research

The Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community

Narrative Research Group

Journalism Research Group

Advances in Media Management Research Group

Emerging Consumer Cultures Research Group

Public Relations Research Group