Media Literacy Critical Paper 1



This work aims to analyze, evaluate and critique the economist magazine’s cover entitled “THE NEW NATIONALISM”. It studies the characters presented in the cover and their backgrounds. It also studies the colors, body positions as well as the elements used in the caricature. Furthermore, both the analysis and critique are based on articles, personal knowledge and personal interpretation. The piece also provides various perspectives to the matter based on the person’s ideology and beliefs and it suggests an alternative headline and image to the story.

Critical Analysis:

“The media’s use of historical analogies, of metaphors and of imagery, can be an extension of their tendency toward sensationalism, but it can also be an attempt through vivid shorthand to replace complexity with a known quantity” states Moeller (1999, p. 1). In fact, The Economist’s cover is a concrete and clear reference to the historical painting of Eugène Delacroix’s « La liberté guidant le people” which symbolizes the popular win and victory of the people. Indeed, the cover presents the victory of the “New Nationalism” led by Trump, Putin, Marine le Pen and Farage.

The headline of the cover suggests that a new definition of nationalism is established; one that is related to the 21st century type of nationalism. In actual fact, the cover presents the leaders of this new ideology celebrating and promoting their ideas, values and beliefs. As an illustration, the characters presented in the caricature are the recent elected US president Donald Trump, Marine le Pen who is one of the candidates running for the upcoming French election , Putin who is the Russian president and Nigel Farage who is the Ex leader of the UKIP (UK Independence Independence Party).

According to Oxford dictionary, Nationalism is “a set of beliefs and symbols expressing identification with a given national community” (2008) . However, the cover provides the reader with a different meaning of nationalism adopted by these four leaders wich consists of closing borders, being over conservative, disputing globalization and promoting more protectionism.  The author chose to present the topic through a caricature that helped him discuss an important matter in a humorous way while passing an important message. Moreover, the cover falls under an era in which many countries from different continents are adopting a more conservative approach to their political system. Four political leaders are shown in the cover, each celebrating his own new nationalism. First of all, Trump seems to be the dominant character in the cover because the use of the US flag in the back symbolizes his power, domination and authority. This can be translated through the recent policies made by his administration such as banning citizens of seven countries from entering the US and the Iran sanctions. Additionally, he is portrayed playing the drum which is a symbol of his happiness, power and success while it can represent fear and frustration for others. The choice of  the boots and the casual clothes make him look like a typical American;therefore, Americans can relate to him as “One of them”. Trump’s new nationalism can be interpreted through the win of republicans over Democrats and conservatism as an ideology over liberalism. His ability to make “America Great again “was actually applied since the first couple weeks of his governance through various policies and decisions, as it has been mentioned earlier. Secondly, Nigel Farage -the Ex leader of the UKIP-is also presented  in the same position as Trump. As a matter of fact, Nigel belongs to the party that led the brexit campaign. As a result, the UK organized a referendum in which people have chosen to exit the EO, achieving Nigel Farage goals which explains his satisfying state in the cover. To the left and next to Trump is Vladimir Putin who has been defending the Russian nation and identity from many external threats. Vladimir has always shown his will to make  Russia a big and more powerful country economically, politically and militarily. His portrait, playing the flute, shows to a certain level the success of his new nationalism as well. Finally, next to Putin is Marine le Pen who belongs to the French National Front party.  Marine is known to be an anti globalization and anti EU leader. She is currently running for the coming 2017 French presidential elections. Portraying her waving the French flag can be translated by her loyalty, patriotism and her plan and will to make France a more developed country outside the EU and under her control.

The cover assimilates the leaders and seems to not make the difference between them whereas they’re not at all the same leaders. In fact, Le Pen and Farage were never elected presidents. Additionally, conservatives would easily analyze the caricature in a positive way as these leaders apply their ideology and values. Nevertheless, liberals will perceive the caricature as radical and scary as it will change the world system. Such explanation can be seen in the caricature in the cracked floor and the grey clouds behind the four of them. It can also interpret the future as a dark, messy one and full of tragedies. However, an alternative headline for the same story would be “The extreme form of Nationalism”, which presents the negative connotation of nationalism. It provides the reader with a totally different understanding of nationalism: One that is different from the one depicted in the cover. Furthermore, as an alternative image, I think showing the consequences of these leaders’nationalism would  explain the extreme form of it. For instance, the use of an image that characterizes walls, borders or a discriminative state would also shows the pitfalls of the “New Nationalism”.

In a nutshell, the economist’s cover describes nationalism as conservatives perceive it. However, the grey color used in the background and the cracked floor can present the cons of this ideology. In reality, Nationalism is a broad concept that can be understood differently from one person to another which make the cover has various interpretation and analysis.








Darvill, T. (2008). Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology. New york: Oxford university press.

Dorbani-Bouabdellah, M. (2011). LA LIBERTÉ GUIDANT LE PEUPLE D’EUGÈNE DELACROIX. Nouvel éclairage sure l’histoire .

Moeller, S. (1999). Four Habits of International News Reporting. Brandeis University

Parkins, D. (2016). The new nationalism . The Economist.






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