Analysis of the Complementarity and Clarification Captions Bring to Road Carnage Print Media Images: A Case of The Herald Newspaper


  • Josephat Mutangadura Tshwane University of Technology
  • J C Mann Tshwane University of Technology
  • L Odendaal Tshwane University of Technology



Captions, complementary, road carnage, visual images


Most visuals in media stories either complement or are complemented by captions that accompany them. This study sought to establish the complementary and clarifying effect of captions that go with road carnage images in The Herald newspaper, a local daily published in Zimbabwe. A study was carried out which involved an interview with photo-journalists from the stable and an analysis of three visual images chosen from the publication. It was established that even as a visual, image can stand alone (but not always); it can tell 95 per cent of the story but will only be complete with an accompanying caption. It was also established that captions need not tell the obvious, but provide that which the picture will be lacking to complete the road carnage story. Captions, therefore, help complete the story as regards the when, where, how, who and what of the depiction. The visual image and the caption combine to complete a communication activity as the verbal and non-verbal form of languages. The study recommends that captions should be edited not only by photo-editors and journalists, but also by practising language people.