Published November 1, 2022
Congratulations to Associate Professor Elizabeth Bowen and PhD Candidate Nicole Capozziello on their publication of, Faceless, nameless, invisible: a visual content analysis of photographs in U.S. media coverage about homelessness" in Taylor & Francis (Routledge).
Bowen, E., & *Capozziello, N. (2022). Faceless, nameless, invisible: A visual content analysis of photographs in U.S. media coverage about homelessness. Housing Studies.
Media coverage plays an important role in shaping public opinion and approaching solutions to homelessness in the United States and beyond. Scant prior research has shown that stories often highlight individual rather than structural causes and solutions to the issue, while also perpetuating anti-homelessness stigma and stereotypes. However, few studies have looked specifically at the role of photography in media stories about homelessness. In this study, we used content analysis methodology to assess features of 226 photographs accompanying stories about homelessness from U.S. news media outlets in 2019. Our analysis found that presumably homeless people were frequently photographed without eye contact and were not identified by name in captions, and that photographs often featured homelessness paraphernalia (e.g. tents, shopping carts) but rarely depicted affordable housing. These findings affirmed the dehumanizing nature of news photographs about homelessness, and underscore the importance of partnering with the media to raise awareness of stigma and ultimately bring about policy change.