How Chinese Nationalistic Media Visually Frame Trump: Evidence from Automated Visual Analysis and Image Matching with Western Media


This thesis investigates whether Chinese nationalistic media, specifically The Observer (观察者网) borrows Trump’s images from the Western media, and how The Observer visually frames Trump. To investigate these questions, I collected 24,809 images about Trump posted by The Observer and matched them with 232,247 images through Google image search. For paired images, I tailored several visual analytics methods including deep learning to calculate image similarities and the differences in visual characteristics. Compared to Western media images on Google, The Observer tends to post Trump images with higher brightness, higher contrast, and higher visual complexity, and Trump is depicted as younger, less masculine, more Asian-like, and more negative. As a commercialized media, these characteristics in The Observer’s visual framing of Trump may promote its information spread and interactivity. As a propaganda media, it also visually depicts Trump as an incapable and negative politician, catering to its audience. This thesis contributes to the literature on media visual framing, and media bias under authoritarianism, visual analysis in computational social sciences, and methodologically visual data collection and visual analytics.

Online Via Zoom
Speakers / Performers:
Mr. Chuyao WANG