Monday, November 9, 2009

Setting the Frame

With the number of political international actors increasing along with their channels for communicating, the framing of messages becomes an important part of global communications, politics and diplomacy. Hanson described framing as the meaning or interpretation that is given to events so that they can be understood. She also noted that the ability to frame was affected by cultural congruence, the degree of consensus, the amount of control and the nature of event.

Examining the response to Sept 11th provides great insight into the power of framing. Brown discusses how this catastrophe could have been framed as a law enforcement matter or a cause for war. The Bush administration chose to use words like battlefields, beachheads, assaults - laying the groundwork for the 'war on terror.' Hanson says specifically that the War on Terror was framed as an open-ended and global conflict that could be directed against any adversary.

This framing was so widespread and effective that the national newspapers and media wholeheartedly accepted the frame and bolstered its messages by mainly reporting on topics that supported it. Alternative discussions were put in the back pages of newspapers or ignored. While this approach worked well in the USA, it was a more difficult sell internationally and did encounter resistance.

In response to the US framing of the war, Al Qaeda offered their own frame - a war on Islam. They too recognize the necessity of getting people to support their movement and would specifically counter messages that the Western media presented. In this example, both sides have fully engaged in what Brown calls 'perception management.'

How the media chooses to report on these different frames is the main point of concern. How does the public see past the framing and get the actual facts especially when the media agenda has many times been set by national governments in the past. Perhaps the increase in media outlets nationally and internationally will provide a more balanced view or perhaps it will be more of the same. Hopefully, the media and public have learn from the framing and blind following of Sept 11 and seek to question government framing to form their own conclusions.

1 comment:

  1. After analyzing this week's readings, I began to think back to the sad day of 9/11 and the events that led to years of unresolved fighting, politics, and conflict. I reminded myself of the headlines that I saw on CNN, FOX, and other news channels. The first thing that popped in my mind was "War on Terror", "Operation Iraqi Freedom", and the use of the word "insurgents." All of these words were carefully chosen because they were a part of this big political spin campaign. I remember asking, "what are insurgents?" After I learned that it was just another word for the Iraqi citizens when they rose against the "lawful authority." Honestly, in that case who was the "lawful authority"...but that is a whole other coversation. I was also taken aback at how quickly the media, whose job is to question the credibility and legitmacy of its sources and information, covered almost everything that came from the White House verbatim. Hindsight is 20/20, so in everyone's defense I would like to say that the nation was experiencing newfound fear and anxiety; however, as citizens experiencing the same emotions, we immediately ran to the media who provided us with "pre-catered messages." I also applied this week's readings about spin and the such to the slavery and civil rights era of American history. Many times people went along witht the norm because the popular mainstream, majority media of the time provided messages and phrases that allowed people to believe that segregation was a way of life and ordained by God. Man ol man, will America always learn by looking back and saying "wow, look at what we allowed to happen this time!"