You must remember this: Iconic news photographs and collective memory

Akiba A. Cohen*, Sandrine Boudana, Paul Frosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


"Known for being known," iconic photographs are widely circulated and symbolically powerful images that catalyze public discussion and are etched into the fabric of collective memory for succeeding generations-or so the literature postulates. Based on a multi-method research (including focus groups and a national survey), our study aimed to identify the most prevalent domestic-Israeli and foreign (non-Israeli) iconic news photographs that are recognized by the Israeli public, and to expose key features of their place in Israeli collective memory. We found that only a handful of images were recalled by a majority of people. These are images of conflict, trauma and triumph, which inspired mostly emotional reactions, especially among the eldest, who also demonstrated higher recognition scores. This article examines what such differences in recognition and reactions between photographs and between groups of individuals mean for theories of collective memory and the presumed mnemonic power of visual media.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)453-479
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Collective memory
  • Cultural memory
  • Iconic
  • Israel.
  • News photographs
  • Recognition


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