Linear or digital, they are, however, lies

Francesco Massimo Maria Buscemi

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


This article compares Nazi propaganda items to fake news published on Italian social media. Propagandistic fake news in Italy is a hot topic highlighted globally by The New York Times and other international media, as it is widely recognized that this issue is compromising the correct development of political communication. Drawing on propaganda studies, multimodality, Van Leuween’s categories of social semiotic inquiry and Stuart Hall’s analysis of photography, the article analyses propagandistic items published in the Nazi magazine Der Stürmer from 1928 to 1942, and memes published on Italian social media and gathered by the website The results show that in the Nazi item drawings had the function of inventing reality, while photographs did not lie at the visual level. It was the caption, instead, which invented reality. By contrast, the analysis of the Italian propagandistic items demonstrates that photographs ‘fabricate’ reality, as drawings did in the Nazi case. To quote Stuart Hall, in the past each Nazi photograph did not lie, but showed various potential meanings, while the caption selected one of them to stress it. In the Italian case, photographs lie, as they present a reality that is invented and falsely connected to the topic of the meme. It is the caption, instead, that constructs the propagandistic meaning. In conclusion, the article underlines how propagandistic photographs have changed the relationship between image and caption.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)9-28
Numero di pagine20
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Nazi Propaganda, Fake News, Laura Boldrini, social semiotics


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