Can Photojournalism Change Our Biases?


In an exploration of photojournalism, visual storytelling, and how it can potentially reshape our understanding of certain groups of people it offers insights which can potentially change our biases. I intend to introduce various types of images from the blog Humans of New York that can elaborate on how photojournalism presents an opportunity to change our biases beyond online mediums. Throughout this experiment, I will engage with images on a superficial sense, and on a practical level where I can probe certain visual literacies of an image within the context of Humans of New York.


Since the emergence of new media sites, it has given birth to various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which has offered individuals a way to express themselves in unique discourse communities than before. In doing so, many individuals use photos with or without content as a way of to give a voice to voiceless individuals. Does photojournalism paint a fair picture of our culture today? Specifically, can photojournalism reshape our understanding of certain types of people and offer insight, which can possibly change our biases?


Over the span of all of our lives we have digested millions of images. Many of these images has shaped how we perceive the world and it has been reinforced by mass media. My contention is that photojournalism offers individuals a chance to offer new understandings of certain kinds of people and perhaps in doing so we can end our biases about certain groups of people. For this project, I will examine the blog Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton, a blog that shares stories while offering a new light on photojournalism and cultivating a new type of visual experience. I will view 1,000 of out 3,530 photos and explore 3-5 that I find visually captivating and content that sheds light on the individual in an effort to chart how I am transformed through this experience. 


  1. To create a comparative analysis which I write about my emotion about a certain image and then write about my emotions are reading the content of the image and write about the emotions I feel after the image. This will be executed by leaving a comment on Instagram/Facebook below the image.
  2. A PowerPoint/Prezi presentation with images that carefully assess each photos for the overall image, the image point of view, the quality of the image, the subject matter of the image (if there is any) whether it is environmental, controversial, or presents a challenge to ethical values.
  3. A blog post to my personal blog Black Attire Aficionado that I can reflect on the success, emotions, and revelations of how I was affected by the images and contents of the Human of New York and if I was changed by the visual storytelling. (Hyperlinks to ePortfolio, to Black Attire Aficionado, and to OpenLab)
  4. Create a image that mirrors Human of New York and tracks its success on Instagram and Facebook. (Use hashtags on Instagram and Facebook)


The visual language/ visual rhetoric, multimedia storytelling, and how our cultural beliefs leads to misinterpretation of an image has affected how we quantify ourselves and the people around us.

Questions to Probe

  1. How does cultural beliefs affect visual storytelling?
  2. Can an image stand without content?
  3. What factors play a part in interpretation?
  4. How does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  5. Why does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  6. Can we un-train our eyes?


To successfully chart my discoveries and offer insight on how we shine a new light on the ways in which photojournalism plays role in how interpret images and perhaps how we can begin to un-train our eyes.


11/12 View 100-500 photos

11/15 View 100-500 photos

11/18 Narrow down on 3-5 photos






Sources (subject to change)

Humans of New York


The Importance of Storytelling 

Visual Narratives 


Photojournalism and Rhetoric

Revised Final Project Proposal

My focus for this final project will be framed around twitter and user engagement. I originally wanted to observe two very popular and active twitter accounts for their user engagement but now I’m tailoring it to build my brand on twitter. I am basing my strategy on the textbooks and material we’ve read in class as well as outside sources. My objective is to see if by applying these concepts I can gain a larger following. After looking through the material and realizing I would like to have a larger twitter presence I propose to apply one strategy a week and in the end seeing if they have increased my user engagement or following.

On twitter there is a feature that allows you to track the engagement of your tweets, it tells you how many users have seen my content. So I would in turn be able to see if the tactics are working.

REVISION: The deliverables i will be providing will be in the form of the analytics bar on twitter, i will be screen shotting and posting the weeks results on my e portfolio and then reflecting on the experience and then comparing the results to the sources suggested outcomes.

First I will average my current user engagement to compare to the engagement at the end.

I have broken down into 5 weeks the strategies I plan to apply and at the end of the week I will see by how much, if any my engagement increased.

Week #1- Leverage trending topics. I will explore the moments and trending sections of twitter and engage in the conversation for at least 2 of them per day.

Week #2- Boost visibility by tweeting with at least three content based hashtags that represent a call to action.

Week #3- Fuel my profile with shared content. I will share and comment on popular stories to attract or raise questions about the content.

Week #4- Branch out. I will locate and attempt to engage with three professionals in my desired career field (marketing).

Week #5- Cross post. In the last week I will share my content from linkedin and open lab on my twitter to show professional work on my twitter feed as well.

Week #6- For the last week I will gather and assess my data, see which week had the largest engagement and overall by how much (if any) my engagement increased.

My objective for doing this project is to better learn how to management my content online and build a profile to reflect that of an emerging professional. At the end and in the final version I want to answer these three questions.

  1. How did I apply each strategy? What was hardest and what was easiest about doing so? Which did I feel worked the best?
  2. Which one statistically had the largest engagement increase and over all by what percent did my user engagement change?
  3. Did I accomplish my goal? If not how do I plan on continuing to do so and what do I think my twitter profile now reflects of me as a student, professional and person?

My sources potentially would be:

Digital Literacy Text

Writing with new Media Text

I plan to add additional sources as I go into depth about why people are drawn to certain content, what makes content engaging and what is the best time of day to publish content.


Becoming Unavailable


To successfully and adequately capture through daily vlogging reflection and blog posts how ‘unavailability’ from social media networking sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram strongly affect a person’s’ attention and participatory structures, along with the effects it has our wants,needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things. All of which will be justified and supported through research of willing individuals and attestable written resources. The end-result will be presented in the form of short short film/video of some sort which will be posted to Mariah Rajah’s e-portfolio site.


Throughout the semester we have covered a wide range of topics but in all of them we always seemed to return the topic of availability. We question time and time again that in this day in age is it possible to be unavailable? And what does it actually mean to be unavailable in a world where not being able to reach someone is a sign of tardiness and carelessness.When thinking of a possible project idea the focus was drawn on three main topics that are of interest:

  1. Availability
  2. Attention structures
  3. Participation

After focusing in on these three topics the realization came that they each play a part in tackling the question of, “Do we have the ability to ever become completely unavailable? ” First of all, availability is by far one of the biggest affordances and constraints of the internet. Social media has allowed us to constantly be in touch. We can tag, track, and see when we’ve read each other’s messages. All of these affordances have in a way lead us to always be online even when we aren’t. Being available online means you are expected to participate in conversation both personal and global.

As an individual of an online community you have the responsibility to share, comment and create and if you do not you are therefore doing that community a disservice. Your participation is always needed and wanted on both your and your audiences’ end. This want and need to participate ultimately allows us to choose whether we are or are not available.  It also means that you are aware of what is going on around you and you are in a way forced to take part or else you are “creeping”. Being available has also had an impact in the way we divide our attention. What we focus on and how we focus on these things ultimately affects our participation and our availability. These three concepts all interact and interfere with our ability to actually disconnect and become unavailable in a world that demands availability.


This project proposes an experiment in which I will purposely disconnect myself from all social media networking sites (such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr)  which I participate in for two weeks.

In those two weeks I will vlog, blog, and capture photographs daily about how I am dealing with not being available online. Since a large portion of the project will be reflections I plan to capture this by doing daily vlogs that give detailed descriptions as to how I am dealing with the disconnect.

In tracking this I want to highlight the shift in myself and the transition from an avid online user to someone who has become “unavailable”:

  1. In order for this project to be executed properly test subject  will research how other people have dealt with taking breaks from social networking sites (via online resources: Videos, articles, etc.)  and interview colleagues; then compare this to self-assessed criteria in order to accurately record whether or not it is an internal or an external issue that has had the same effects across the board.
  2. By conducting research that almost entirely embarks on the premise of availability and the affordances and constraints it entails, student will try to also highlight the psychological effects this disconnect has upon an individual such as anxiety, worry, detachment etc. Also with the hopes that this project demonstrates that availability has changed our wants,needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things.
  3. Lastly, in this project student wishes to prove that there is a way by which we can become unavailable in a world that desires for everyone to constantly be online and involved.


As the nature of this project is to produce multimodal aspects I hope to:

  1. Capture daily videos reflection that track my changes in behavior (participation & attention), needs, wants, interpretations, and emotions. (which will be posted on openlab e-portfolio by the end of each day for the 2 weeks)
  2. Photographs that highlight how I spend my time in being ‘unavailable’. Which will be accompanied with short captions/posts as to explain the thoughts and noticed changes. **all which will include hyperlinks to sources that either support or argue against points** (which will be posted on openlab e-portfolio by the end of the day)
  3. PowerPoint presentation at the end of experiment to showcase learnt experiences, changes, and understandings of how unavailability effects more than what we think it does.
  4. In its entirety, answer what I have found the answer to be for the question: “What does it mean to be unavailable?”

Target Questions for Daily Vlogs:

  1. How are you feeling today without your online presence?
  2. Have you noticed a change in yourself?
  3. How has your relationship with your smart device changed?
  4. What other activities have you been participating in?
  5. How has your attention shifted? Has it shifted?
  6. Do you appreciate the new found freedom that comes along with not participating in online social media networking sites?
  7. What is the biggest and hardest part of this transition?

Projected Timeline:

Initial starting date- TBA

  • First two weeks – document and capture the ‘unavailable’ time period. Keep detailed records in reflections that will allow myself to compile an archive as to which draw information from for film.
  • After initial steps are taken next step will be to begin the editing process as to allow enough time to properly capture essence of project.
  • Further capture video, composite adequate research which adds to an archive that will support short film and answers the question of unavailability.

Research Materials:

  1. What Does Profile Unavailable Mean on Facebook?
  2. 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space
  3. Get Off The Internet: A Challenge to Reconnect With Yourself
  4. Facebook effects on social distress: Priming with online social networking thoughts can alter the perceived distress due to social exclusion
  5. When Your Smartphone Is Too Smart for Your Own Good: How Social Media Alters Human Relationships
  6. Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media
  7. Generation Z: Technology and Social Interest

Resources to be Used: TBA

*Revised Proposal Posts due 1pm Th 11/12

As we discussed in class, you should post a revised proposal by tomorrow before class (please post no later than 1pm, so that I have time to read through them before class). More detailed information about this is on the Schedule, but I’ve copied the relevant info. at the bottom of this post too, for your convenience.

If you want to get a head start on your ePortoflio work (due Monday), please feel free to do so. You can find specifics about that assignment on our Schedule (including what you need to do on the ePortfolio, and the reflection post you need to make discussing that work).

As you work on your projects, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions, or schedule a time to meet me to discuss it in person (we can cover much more in 5-10 minutes together talking than we can in a whole series of email exchanges). I’ll be on campus this Friday (11/13), next Monday (11/16), so if you don’t want to wait until my regular office hours next Tuesday, feel free to email me to set up something sooner.

Revised Proposals (due: 1pm on Th 11/12), categorize as “Revised Proposals”

  • revise proposal according to Professor Belli’s feedback & comments (written, in class, and individual conferences)
  • key is to provide as much specific detail as possible
    • propose at least 3 new media composing experiments (aside from final presentation & ePortfolio work): don’t just list things, but explain how/why they will be integrated into the project
    • present/discuss/integrate 5 additional sources (not the ones we’ve read together), showing how this has extending your thinking about the project
    • timeline: what is your timeline (week by week) for your particular project – what do you plan to do each week?
    • If you have particular questions about the project, clearly articulate them (pose them to Professor Belli and your classmates).