Time magazine’s “Finding Home” analysis: A case of storytelling innovation on distant suffering


  • Gabriela Müggenburg Universidad Carlos III de Madrid




This article aims to analyze an innovative and comprehensive way to report on migration and refugees tackling Time’s magazine “Finding Home”, a multimedia project held during 2016 mainly through a specific Instagram account. Throughout a year long, it tells the story about three Syrian women and their families who found shelter in refugee camps in Greece, all three of them while being pregnant and looking for a permanent place to settle. This piece of research explores qualitatively how the media is representing migrants and refugees, specifically women and motherhood, to illuminate the practice and develop innovative ways to approach and communicate mediated distant suffering from a peace-oriented approach. It uses a triangulation research design with a multimodal textual analysis and an in-depth semi-structured interview with two journalists involved in the project. This text intends to approach Instagram as an opportunity for innovative journalistic genres, while considering its challenges and constraints, and evaluate if peace-oriented news stories are able to connect with the audience while fostering empathy and solidarity.

Biografía del autor/a

Gabriela Müggenburg, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Investigadora predoctoral PIFP del Departamento de Comunicación de la UC3M

Estudia la respuesta de la audiencia al sufrimiento distante mediado por las redes sociales desde una perspectiva cualitativa y su trabajo adopta el enfoque de la sociología cultural. Busca entender en qué medida la exposición mediática en conjunción con determinados códigos culturales y morales, pueden invitar al usuario a la participación social y la solidaridad civil.


Al-Ghazzi, O. (2019). An archetypal digital witness: The child figure and the media conflict over Syria. International Journal of Communication, 13(2019), 3225–3243. Disponible

en: https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/9108/2719

Allan. S. (2011). Documenting war, visualizing peace: towards peace photography. En S.I. Shaw, J. Lynch y R. A. Hackett (Ed.), Expanding peace journalism: Comparative critical approaches (pp. 147-167). Sydney University Press.


Alper, M. (2014). War on Instagram: framing conflict photojournalism with mobile

photography apps. New Media and Society, 16(8), 1223-1248. http://journals.sagepub.


Beck, U. and Sznaider, N. (2010): Unpacking cosmopolitanism for the social sciences: a

research agenda. The British Journal of Sociology, 57(1), 1-23. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.


boyd, d. y Elisson, N. (2007). Social networking sites: Definition, history and scholarship.

Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/


Boltanski, L. (1999). Distant suffering: Morality, media and politics. Cambridge University Press.

Butsch, R. (2014). Audiences and publics, media and public spheres. En: V. Nightingale (Ed.),

The handbook of media audiences (pp. 147-168). Wiley and Sons.

Chouliaraki, L. (2006). The spectatorship of suffering. Sage.

Chouliaraki, L. (2008). The media as moral education: mediation and action. Media Culture and Society, 30(6), 831-852. http://0-journals.sagepub.com.wam.leeds.ac.uk/doi/


Chouliaraki, L. (2012). Between pity and irony-paradigms of refugee representation in humanitarian discourse. En K. Moore, B. Gross y T. Threadglod (Ed.), Migrations and the media (pp. 13-32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Chouliaraki, L. (2012b). The ironic spectator. Polity Press.

Chouliaraki, L. (2013). Mediating vulnerability: cosmopolitanism and

the public sphere. Media, Culture & Society, 35(1), 105-112.


Chouliaraki, L. (2017). Symbolic bordering: The self-representation of migrants and refugees

in digital news. Popular Communication, 15(2), 78-94. https://www.tandfonline.com/


Chouliaraki, L y Stolic, T. (2017). Rethinking media responsibility in the refugee ‘crisis’ a

visual typology of European news. Media, Culture & Society, (39)8, 1162–1177. https://


Chouliaraki, L., Georgiou, M., Zaborowski, R., y Oomen, W. A. (18 de mayo de 2017). The

European ‘migration crisis’ and the media: A cross-European press content analysis.

Utrecht University Reposiotory. Recuperado el día 18 de mayo de 2017 de https://


Frosh, P. and Pinchevski, A. (2009). Media witnessing: Testimony in the age of mass communications.

Pelgrave Mcmillan. https://www.dawsonera.com/abstract/9780230235762

Galtung, J. (2002). Peace journalism – a callenge. En W. Kempf y H. Luostarinen (Ed.), Journalism and the new world order (pp. 259-272). Nordicom.

Lynch, J. and McGoldrick, A. (2005). Peace journalism: Global dialog for democracy and democratic media. En A. Hackett y Y. Zhao (Ed.), Democratizing global media: One world, many struggles (pp. 269-288). Rowman & Littlefield.

Hannerz, U. (1996). Transnational connections. Routledge.

Hjorth, L. and Kim, K. Y. (2011). The morning after: A case study of social media in the 3.11 Earthquake Disaster in Japan. Television New Media, 12(6), 552–559. http://journals.


Höijer, B. (2004). The discourse of global compassion: The audience and media reporting of human suffering. Media, Culture & Society, 26(4), 513–531. http://journals.sagepub.


Huiberts, E. (2019). Watching Disaster News Online and Offline: Audiences Experiencing News about Far-away Disasters in a Postbroadcast Society. Television and New Media,

(1), 41-59. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476418821328

Irom, B. (2021). Virtual reality and celebrity humanitarianism: Rashida Jones in Lebanon. Media, Culture & Society, 44(1), 1-17. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/01634437211022725

Jacobson, S. A. (2010). When peace journalism and feminist theory join forces: A Swedish case study. En R.L. Keeble, J. Tulloch, J. y F. Zollmann, (Ed.), Peace journalism, war and conflict resolution (pp. 105-120). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Jankowski, N. W. y Wester, F. (1991). The qualitative tradition in social science inquiry: contributions to mass communication research. En: K.B. Jensen y N.W. Jankowski (Ed.), A handbook of qualitative methodologies for mass communication research (pp.

-73). Routledge.

Kress, G. y van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. Routledge.

Kogut, T. y Ritov, I. (2005). The “identified victim” effect: An identified group, or just a single individual? Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 18(3), 157–167. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bdm.492/full

Knudsen, G.H. y Bajde, D. (2016). “Feed the dogs: The case of humanitarian communication in social media”, en Journal of Media and Communication Research, vol 32, nº 60, pp.196-

Disponible en: https://tidsskrift.dk/mediekultur/article/view/21261 [Consulta: el


Kogen, L. and Dilliplane. (2019). How media portrayals of suffering influence willingness to help. Journal of Media Psychology, 31(2), 92–102. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-1105/


Kohn, A. (2017). Instagram as a naturalized propaganda tool: The Israel Defense Forces website and the phenomenon of shared values. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 23(2), 1-17. http://journals.sagepub.


Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: an introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Sage.

Kyriakidou, M. (2008). Feeling the pain of others: Exploring cosmopolitan empathy in relation

to distant suffering. En: N. Carpentier, P. Pruulman-Vengerfeldt, K. Nordenstreng, M. Harman, P. Vihalemm, B. Cammaerts, H. Nieminen, T. Olsson (Ed.), Democracy, Journalism and Technology: New Developments in an Enlarged Europe. (pp.157-166).

Tartu University Press. https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/111195/

Kyriakidou, M. (2014). Distant Suffering in Audience Memory: The Moral Hierarchy of Remembering. International Journal of Communication, 8, 1474–1494. https://ijoc.org/


Kyriakidou, M. (2015). Media witnessing: Exploring the audience of distant suffering. Media, Culture & Society, 37(2), 215–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443714557981

Kyriakidou, M. (2017). Remembering global disasters and the construction of cosmopolitan memory. Communication, Culture & Critique, 10(1), 93–111. https://doi.org/10.1111/


Li, J. y Rao, H. R. (2010). Twitter as a rapid response news service: An exploration in the context of the 2008 China earthquake. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, 42(4), 1–22. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/


Linklater, A. (2007). Distant suffering and cosmopolitan obligations. International Politics,

(1), 19-36. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800156

Lynch, J. (2004). Reporting the world – the ethical challenge to international news. En C. Paterson y A. Sreberny (Ed.), International news in the 21st century (pp. 261-278). J. Libbey Pub. for University of Luton.

Madianou, M. (2013). Humanitarian campaigns in social media: Network architectures and polymedia events. Journalism Studies, 14(2), 249–266. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1461670X.2012.718558

Merck of Mothers. (15 de abril 2023). Who we are. Merck of Mothers. https://www.msdformothers.com/who-we-are.html

Moeller, S. D. (1999). Compassion fatigue: How the media sell misery, war, and death. Routledge.

Olesen, T. (2018). Memetic protest and the dramatic diffusion of Alan Kurdi. Media, Culture and Society, 40(5), 656–672. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/0163443717729212

Ong, J. C. (2009). The cosmopolitan continuum: Locating cosmopolitanism in media and cultural studies. Media, Culture and Society, 31(3), 449–466. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0163443709102716

Ong, J.C. (2014). “Witnessing” or “mediating” distant suffering? Ethical questions across moments of text, production, and reception. Television & New Media. 15(3), 179-196.


Ong, J.C. (2015). Witnessing distant and proximal suffering within a zone of danger: Lay moralities of media audiences in the Philippines. The International Communication Gazette, 77(7),

–621. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1748048515601555

Orgad, S. and Seu, I. (2014). The mediation of humanitarianism: Toward a research framework. Communication, Culture & Critique, 7(1), 6–36. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cccr.12036/full

Ottosen, R. (2007). Emphasising images in peace journalism: theory and practice in the case of Norway’s biggest newspaper. Conflict & Communication Online, 6(1), 1–16. http://cco.regener-online.de/2007_1/pdf/ottosen.pdf

Pantti, M. (2015). Grassroots humanitarianism on YouTube: Ordinary fundraisers, unlikely donors, and global solidarity. International Communication Gazette, 77(7), 622-636. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048515601556

Papacharissi, Z. (2009). The virtual sphere 2.0. En A. Chadwick y N.P. Howard (Ed.), Routledge handbook of internet politics (pp. 230-245). Routledge.

Richards, B. (2012). News and the emotional public sphere. En S. Allan (Ed.), The Routledge companion to news and journalism (pp. 301-311). Routledge.

Scott, Martin. (2014). The mediation of distant suffering: An empirical contribution beyond television news texts. Media, Culture & Society, 36(1), 3–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443713507811

Scott, Martin. (2015). Distant suffering online: The unfortunate irony of cyber-utopian narratives. International Communication Gazette, 77(7), 637–653. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048515601557

Seu, I.B. (2003). Your stomach makes you feel that you don’t want to know anything about it. Journal of Human Rights, 2(2), 183–196. https://doi.org/10.1080/1475483032000078170

Seu, I. B. (2010). ‘Doing denial’: audience reaction to human right appeals Discourse & Society, 21(4), 438-457. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/


Silverstone, R. (1999). Why study the media? Sage.

Silverstone, R. (2007). Media and morality, on the rise of the mediapolis. Polity.

Sliwinski, S. (2011). Human rights in camera. Chicago University Press.

Tester, K. (2001). Compassion, morality and the media. Open University Press.

Thumim, N. (2012). Self-representation and digital culture. Palgrave.

Time magazine (15 de abril de 2023). Finding home stories. Time magazine. https://time.com/


Trianni, F. (10 de diciembre de 2022). Speaking and press. Francesca Trianni. https://www.francescatrianni.com/speaking-and-press

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (10 de diciembre de 2022). Syria emergency. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. http://www.unhcr.org/uk/syria emergency.html

Van Damme, K., All, A., De Marez, L., Van Leuven, S. (2019). 360° Video journalism: Experimental study on the effect of immersion on news experience and distant suffering. Journalism Studies, 20(14), 2053-2076.


Vandevoordt, R. (2017). Moral cosmopolitanism and the everyday life: how students encounter distant others. Media, Culture & Society, 40(2), 195-210. Disponible en:


von Engelhardt, J. (2015). Studying Western audiences vis-à-vis mediated distant suffering. A call to venture beyond media studies. International Communication Gazette, 77(7),

–707. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048515601561

Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2020). An emotional turn in journalism studies? Digital Journalism, 8(2),

-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2019.1697626

Zelizer, B. (2010). About to die: How images move the public. Oxford University Press.