Exploring national culture through international media The publication of a viral pro-LGBT image compared against a nation’s wealth, level of religion, and democracy

Linda Jean Kenix (1)
(1) University of Canterbury , New Zealand


Gay marriage is now legal in 22 countries around the world. However, homosexual acts remain punishable by death in 10 countries and are now illegal in a further 65 countries. Thus, there appears to be very clear national cultural distinctions in how local cultures consider the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. In 2016, an image of a 12-year-old boy who stood against a sea of anti-LGBT marriage protesters in Celaya, Mexico went ‘viral’ around the world as an icon for LGBT rights. This research will examine newspapers from a sample of 17 countries to see where this particular pro-LGBT image was used. This research asks the question, what is the relationship between the publication of this image and a country’s level of democracy, wealth and religion – socio-economic factors that have been found to be correlated to the acceptance of LGBT rights. The findings of this research could potentially suggest the presence of ideological biases at the national level in regards to how international news stories are told and also which news stories are even addressed. These factors may help to coalesce into a cultural perspective unique to each country examined

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Administrador Regeneración. (2016a). Niño enfrenta a multitud que protestaba contra matrimonios igualitarios. Retrieved from http://regeneracion.mx/nino-enfrenta-a-multitud-que-protesta-contra-matrimonios-igualitarios/

Administrador Regeneración. (2016b). Se viraliza foto de niño que enfrentó a manifestantes contra matrimonio igualitario. Regeneración. Retrieved from http://regeneracion.mx/recorre-el-mundo-foto-de-nino-que-enfrento-a-manifestantes-contra-matrimonio-igualitario/

Agis, K., & Brown, H. (2016). Look at this breathtaking picture of a child trying to stop an anti-gay rally. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/karlaagis/the-picture-of-a-child-in-front-of-pro-family-pro?utm_term=.iazjgOZDP#.ndZjr7MPZ

Allen, H., & Savigny, H. (2012). Selling scandal or ideology? The politics of business crime coverage. European Journal of Communication, 27(3), 278-290. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323112455907

Altheide, D. (1976). Creating reality: How TV distorts events. Beverly Hills: Sage.

Brummett, B. (1994). Rhetoric in popular culture. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Cameron, D., & Berkowitz, B. (2016). The state of gay rights around the world. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/gay-rights/

Campbell, D. F. J., Pölzlbauer, P., Barth, T. D., & Pölzlbauer, G. (2015). Democracy Ranking (Edition 2014): The Quality of Democracy in the World. Vienna: Democracy Ranking.

Carragee, K. M., & Roefs, W. (2004). The neglect of power in recent framing research. Journal of Communication, 54(2), 214-233. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2004.tb02625.x

Chong, D., & Druckman, J. N. (2007). A theory of framing and opinion formation in competititve elite environments. Journal of Communication, 57(1, March), 99-118. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00331.x

Conover, P., & Feldman, S. (1981). the origins and meanings of liberal/conservative self-identification. American Journal of Political Science, 25, 617-645. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2110756

Cottle, S. (2000). Rethinking news access. Journalism Studies, 1(3), 427-448. doi: 10.1080/14616700050081768 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14616700050081768

Crabtree, S. (2010). Religiosity Highest in World’s Poorest Nations. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/142727/religiosity-highest-world-poorest-nations.aspx

Dahlberg, L. (2001). The internet and democratic discourse: Exploring the prospects of online deliberative forums extending the public sphere. Information, Communication & Society, 4(4), 615-633. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691180110097030

Domke, D., Watts, M. D., Shah, D. V., & Fan, D. P. (1999). The politics of conservative elites and the "liberal media" argument. Journal of Communication, 49(4), 35-58. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02816.x

Encarnación, O. G. (2014). Gay rights: Why democracy matters. Journal of Democracy, 25(3, July), 90-104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2014.0044

Entman, R. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x

Entman, R. (2004). Projections of power: Framing news, public opinion, and U.S. foreign policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226210735.001.0001

Entman, R., & Rojecki, A. (1993). Freezing out the public: Elite and media framing of the U.S. anti nuclear movement. Political Communication, 10, 155-173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.1993.9962973

Eurobarometer. (2008). Eurobaromter 69: Values of Europeans. 113. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_values_en.pdf

Fedler, F., Smith, R., & Meeske, M. (1983). Time and Newsweek favor John F. Kennedy, criticize Robert and Edward Kennedy. Journalism Quarterly, 60, 489-496. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/107769908306000316

Fenton, T. (2005). Bad news: The decline of reporting, the business of news, and the danger to us all. New York: Regan Books.

Ferree, M. M., Gamson, W. A., Gerhards, J., & Rucht, D. (2002). Four models of the public sphere in modern democracies. Theory and Society, 31(3), 289-324. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016284431021

Gamson, W. A. (1992). Talking politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gasher, M. (2007). The view from here. Journalism Studies, 8(2), 299-319. doi: 10.1080/14616700601148895 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14616700601148895

Gitlin, T. (1980). The whole world is watching: Mass media in the making and unmaking of the new left. Berkley: University of California Press.

Gregson, J. (2017). The World’s Richest and Poorest Countries. Retrieved from https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/economic-data/worlds-richest-and-poorest-countries

Harcup, T., & O'Neill, D. (2001). What is news? Galtung and Ruge revisited. Journalism Studies, 2(2), 261-280. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14616700118449

Hertog, J., & McLeod, D. (1995). Anarchists wreak havoc in downtown Minneapolis: A multi-level study of media coverage of radical protest. Journalism Monographs, 151(June), 1-48.

Holton, A. E., Coddington, M., & Gil de Zuñiga, H. (2013). Whose news? Whose values? Citizen journalism and journalistic values through the lens of content creators and consumers. Journalism Practice, 7(6), 720-737. doi: 10.1080/17512786.2013.766062 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2013.766062

Jewitt, C. (Ed.). (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Machin, D. (2016). The need for a social and afforance-driven multimodal critical discourse studies. Discourse & Society, 27(3), 322-334. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926516630903

Manning, P. (2001). News and news sources: A critical introduction. London: Sage Publications. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446218082

Matheson, D. (2005). Media discourses: Analysing media texts. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Mencher, M. (2000). New reporting and writing. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Merrill, J. C. (1965). How Time stereotyped three U.S. Presidents. Journalism Quarterly, 42, 563-570. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/107769906504200406

Michaud, K., Carlisle, J., & Smith, E. R. A. N. (2009). The relationship between cultural values and political ideology, and the role of political knowledge. Political Psychology, 30(1), 27-42. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2008.00679.x

Pew Research Center, I. (2013). Pew Research Global Attitudes. Retrieved from

Reese, S. D., Gandy Jr., O. H., & Grant, A. E. (2001). Framing Public Life. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410605689

Reich, Z. (2015). Why citizens still rarely serve as news sources: Validating a tripartite model of circumstantial, logistical, and evaluative barriers. International Journal of Communication, 9, 2412-2433.

Ryan, C., Carragee, K. M., & Schwerner, C. (1998). Media, movements, and the quest for social justice. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 26, 165-181. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00909889809365500

Schiffer, A. (2000). I'm not THAT liberal: Explaining conservative democratic identification. Political Behavior, 22(4), 293-310. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010626029987

Schultz, I. (2007). The journalistic gut feeling: Journalistic doxa, news habitus and orthodox news values. Journalism Practice, 1(2), 190-207. doi: 10.1080/17512780701275507 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17512780701275507

Segev, E. (2015). Visible and invisible countries: News flow theory revised. Journalism, 16(3), 412-428. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884914521579

Segev, E. (2016). The group-sphere model of international news flow: A cross-national comparison of news sites. The International Communication Gazette, 78(3), 200-222. doi: 10.1177/1748048515620858 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048515620858

Severin, W., & Tankard, J. (1997). Communication Theories: Origins, methods, and Uses in the Mass Media (4th ed.). New York: Longman.

Singer, J. B., Hermida, A., Domingo, D., Heinonen, A., Paulussen, S., Quandt, T., & Reich, Z. (2011). Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers. Maiden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444340747

Sotirovic, M. (2000). Effects of media use on audience framing and support for welfare. Mass Communication and Society, 3, 269-297. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327825MCS0323_06

Street, J. (Ed.). (2001). Mass media, politics and democracy. Basingstoke: Palgrave. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4039-4009-4

Tankard Jr., J. W., Hendrickson, L., Silberman, J., Bliss, K., & Ghanem, S. (1991). Media Frames: Approaches to Conceptualization and Measurement. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Boston.

Thompson, J. B. (1990). Ideology and modern culture: Critical social theory in the era of mass communication. Cambridge: Polity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781503621886

Tuchman, G. (1978). Making news: A study in the construction of reality. New York: Free Press.

Valcke, P. (2009). From ownership regulations to legal indicators of media pluralism: Background, typologies and methods. Journal of Media Business Studies, 6(3), 19-42. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/16522354.2009.11073487

Vasil, A. (2003). World domination. Ryerson Review of Journalism, 20(2), 56-61.

Villarreal, D. (2016). The story behind the now iconic photo of a 12-year opposing an anti-LGBT protest. Unicorn Booty. Retrieved from https://unicornbooty.com/story-behind-now-iconic-photo-12-year-opposing-anti-lgbt-protest/

Westlund, O. (2013). Mobile news: A review and model of journalism in an age of mobile media. Digital Journalism, 1(1), 6-26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2012.740273

Whithey, J. (2016). Photographer who captured 12-year-old standing up to anti-LGBT protestors receives death threats. Gay Times. Retrieved from http://www.gaytimes.co.uk/news/48845/photographer-captured-12-year-old-standing-anti-lgbt-protestors-receives-death-threats/

Williams, A. P., Wardle, C., & Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2011). Have they got news for us? Audience revolution or business as usual at the BBC? Journalism Practice, 5(1), 85-99. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17512781003670031


Linda Jean Kenix
(Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Linda Jean Kenix, University of Canterbury

Linda Jean Kenix is Head of the School of Language, Social, and Political Sciences, which consists of six departments, at the University of Canterbury. Her book, Alternative and Mainstream Media: The Converging Spectrum, was recently published by Bloomsbury Academic. She has published broadly in 35 international academic journals, including Visual Communication Quarterly, Journalism, Communication, Culture & Critique,Journalism Studies, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Television & New Media, Information, Communication & Society, Mass Communication & Society, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Dr Kenix is interested in the visual and textual media representation of marginalized groups, the reasons for, and the consequences of that representation. Her recent work has broadened to examine how marginalized groups use various media as tools for social change. She has been a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, Monash University and the University of Valencia.

Kenix, L. J. (2019). Exploring national culture through international media The publication of a viral pro-LGBT image compared against a nation’s wealth, level of religion, and democracy. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 19(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v19i1.773

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_