In online and video/television spaces, news media discourses incorporate multimodal design as a discursive move capable of steering meaning toward desirable implications. Around the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, while polarized news outlets made their positionality on the candidates obvious, more neutral or central news outlets revealed their preferences through subtle multimodal design choices. One of these design choices is using a quantitative visual rhetoric: persuasive multimodal moves that draw on quantification through visual, spatial, and textual manipulation—involving the choice of data representation, visual images, and illustrations, (im)balance between numeric and alphabetic texts, and general quantitative narrative. This quantitative visual rhetoric helps news outlets manipulate facts without lying with words, leaving the onus of misinterpretation on the readers/viewers. In this article, using examples from five types of media outlets—far-left, left-leaning, central, right-leaning, and far-right—we share examples of design choices we found through multimodal analysis of their quantitative visual rhetoric during the 2016 elections. We share implications for media literacy education and civic engagement.
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Mehta, R., & Guzmán, L. D. (2018). Fake or Visual Trickery? Understanding the Quantitative Visual Rhetoric in the News. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 10(2), 104-122. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2018-10-2-6
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