Saturday, September 11, 2010


The concept of media framing helps me understand how something as simple as word choice can change how a story is interpreted as I will illustrate by contrasting two accounts of the same story but told by two different news groups.

There is a saying that goes: There are always two sides to every story. Framing has something to do with this. Framing in media studies refers to the idea that media industries or news communication agencies have the power to affect how the mass audience interprets an event. The media collects the facts and when it comes to presenting them, they consciously or subconsciously arrange the issues to shape the interpretation of the facts. In short by the way that they portray the events they influence a way in which the events should be perceived.

In the following example we will note how a newspaper writer or a reporter for example has thousands of words to choose from and those words that she or he chooses connote different ways we could interpret the news.

In the latest developments of Thursday’s news concerning Terry Jones, a Reverend from Florida who is rethinking his decision to cancel and event in which the burning of Korans was going to take place on September 11 as part of a protest to the Islamic center being built in New York.

Below are the two stories written around the same subject and written around the same time however due to how the story is framed we have two ways at looking at the facts and the people involved. starts their article by stating that Rev. Terry Jones is rethinking his decision to cancel his plans of burning Korans on the basis that the Mosque builders he is protesting against had incorrectly announced that the Mosque they are trying to build close to the site of 9/11 was going to be moved.

On the other hand, states that Rev. Jones is rethinking his threat to burn the Koran since he was lied to when the builders of the Mosque told him they were considering a relocation.

Two stories yet they are framed differently and each one shapes a different response. In Rev. Jones was threatening to burn the Koran rather than planning as CNN states. Threatening connotes violence.

Further down the article of Rev. Jones was lied to as opposed to, had received the incorrect information as frames it. Lied to implies that it was on purpose rather than an accident or a misunderstanding, it implies treachery. Which then poses an aura on the Mosque builders as people who are not to be trusted and Rev. Jones is somewhat painted as a victim.

See, two reports of the same story offer two different ways of thinking about the events and the people involved, in this case Rev. Jones and the Mosque builders. The media frames a story by the decisions they make when it comes to how they are going to structure a story and as we saw something as simple as word choice can make an effect.

Links to the news articles:

A cartoon with a funny take on framing



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