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Abstract
This paper presents and discusses the results of an ethnographic research on the process of visual news-making, which was carried out within the newsrooms of four national newspapers: Corriere della Sera and il Manifesto in Italy, Le Figaro and Libération in France. It analyses a few case studies: the invasion of Iraq, the massacre in Beslan, the Pacific Ocean Tsunami and the terrorist attack in London (7/7). The ethnographic data are discussed by offering an analysis that relates the sociology of journalism with the cultural-sociological literature on iconicity. Three major signifying practices are identified: the search for a necessary icon, the management of potential icons and the negotiation around iconic contamination. These practices demonstrate the crucial role of newsroom work in either promoting or restricting the iconic power of news photographs.
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