The Influence of Visual Frame Combinations in Solutions Journalism Stories

Jennifer Midberry, Danielle K. Brown, Robert F. Potter, Ryan N. Comfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated how visual framing influences discrete emotional responses, empathy, behavioral intentions, and efficacy in reaction to visual solutions journalism. A 2 (story topic: drug addiction, homelessness) × 4 (visual frame condition: no photo, solution-only, problem-only, combination) mixed design experiment revealed that images showing only social problems elicited the lowest levels of compassion in viewers, challenging long-held assumptions about the utility of social problem imagery. Image pairs showing both problems and solutions were revealed to be effective at eliciting moderate levels of emotional response, including hope, compassion, and empathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: I actually did receive a $2,000 grant from the Indiana University Center of Excellence for Women in Technology that supported this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 AEJMC.


  • addiction
  • homelessness
  • photojournalism
  • solutions journalism
  • visual framing


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