Skip to main content
Get your Wikispaces Classroom now:
the easiest way to manage your class.
Concepts in Communication Studies
Pages and Files
How to Join
Rules and Policies
Tips and Tricks
List of All Entries
List of Contributors
Pages by discipline
Framing is defined as “the action, method, or process, of constructing making or shaping anything whether
or immaterial” (Framing, 1989, p. 143). Framing comes from the word
, which has many definitions. The most pertinent one, in this case, is “to share, direct (one’s thoughts, actions, powers, etc.) to a certain purpose” (Frame, 1989, p. 142). From these definitions of shaping a person’s thoughts, one can see how they relate to the definition specific to the field of
In the study of
, framing is “selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues and making connections among them so as to promote a particular
, evaluation, and/or solution” (Entman, 2004, p. 5). This is often done to highlight the interests of elites (Entman, 2004, p. 5).
Framing and the Media
In the 1930s, the
was viewed as having the ability to directly
audiences (Price & Feldman, 2009, p. 121). The audience was viewed as passive, simply allowing the
to inject it with ideas. As time passed and research grew, scholars took a more nuanced view of
. Agenda-setting research began to be studied.
Research began with McCombs and Shaw’s (1972) study of the 1968 presidential election. They found that if news
paid attention to certain issues then viewers rated those issues as more important (McCombs & Shaw, 1972, p. 183). This was referred to as agenda-setting. Knowing this study is important because framing is often associated with agenda-setting research. Agenda-setting is primarily concerned with the
telling people which stories to think about. However, news
not only tells people
to think about but also
to think about those issues, and this is where framing comes in. Some see framing as part of agenda-setting, others argue it is a very different thing (Shah, McLeod, Gotlieb, & Lee, 2009, p. 83). They both involve similar psychological processes but different cognitive processes (Shah, McLeod, Gotlieb, & Lee, 2009, p. 84).
Views of Framing
Framing can be looked at in two main ways- frame-building and frame-setting (de Vreese, 2005, p. 52). The term frame-building refers to “the factors that influence the structural qualities of news frames” (de Vreese, 2005, p. 52). Framing is applied to how journalists select stories, facts, etc (Kwansah-Aidoo, 2005, p. 48). News frames are formed through internal factors like occupational constraints of journalists, particularly editorial policies and news values and also through external factors like interactions between journalists and elites (de Vreese, 2005, p. 52). Frames inevitably highlight some issues but downplay others (Kwansah-Aidoo, 2005, p. 48). Journalists frame stories in particular ways in order to get people to either read or view (Kwansah-Aidoo, 2005, p. 48). These important factors influence how a frame is built.
Frame-setting is “the interaction between
frames and individuals’ prior knowledge and dispositions (de Vreese, 2005, p. 52). This is often what scholars are concerned with studying, focusing most on the consequences of framing (de Vreese, 2005, p. 52). Research has shown that frames do affect how viewers view stories (Gastil, 2008, p. 59). In particular, the way a story is framed can affect what appears as most important, who the victim appears to, who is to blame, etc. (Gastil, 2008, p. 59).
In addition to the consequences of framing, much research has been conducted to determine how news
outlets frame stories. Particularly when dealing with political issues, the
frames things in an episodic way or a thematic way (Iyengar, 1994, p. 2). An episodic frame focuses of a single, specific event or issue at hand, whereas a thematic frame places issues and events on a larger, more analytical level (Iyengar, 1994, p. 2). Thematic frames are much less common. In particular, research has shown that political and election stories are framed in an episodic way, focusing on winning and losing, using a game or
, emphasizing candidates’ style, and highlighting polls (de Vresse, 2005, p. 55).
The internet may change framing research. With the advent of the internet, people can be exposed to many different frames because of the infinite amount of
available online (Metzger, 2009, p. 564). These frames may compete with each other giving a more holistic view of a story or issue (Metzger, 2009, p. 564). However, the audience also plays a greater role in selecting media and which frames they are exposed to when using the internet which could result in exposure to similar frames and attitude reinforcement (Metzger, 2009, p. 564). More research is needed on this issue.
Now the notion of counterframing is studied. Counterframing occurs when the news
alter a previous narrative (Klein, Byerly, & McEachern, 2009, p. 333). This has been studied recently about the Iraq War (Klein et al., 2009). The news media began framing the war in a positive way, but its frame became much more negative as time passed (Klein, Byerly, & McEachern, 2009).
The internet website, Nikebiz.net as an extension of the Nike corporation, is a good example of both the use of framing and counterframing. Waller and Conaway (2011) discuss the ways in which Nike had to defend against the negative framing surrounding some corporate reponsibility issues that were constructed by an anti-Nike coalition. Rather than the news media framing the issue, the media coverage came after the coalition had constructioned a particularly negative frame. However, the company, using its website was able to defend and improve its reputation. So, counterframing and framing happens within mediated channels of discourse; however, they are not restricted to news media and the internet is afffecting the ways in which messages are constructed and consumed as Waller and Conaway illustrate.
de Vreese, C.H. (2005). News framing: Theory and typology. Information Design Journal + Document Design 13(1), 51-62.
Entman, R.M. (2004). Projections of power: Framing news, public opinion, and U.S foreign policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Frame. (1989). In J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner (Eds.), Oxford English Dictionary (p. 142, 2nd ed., Vol. VI). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Framing. (1989). In J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner (Eds.), Oxford English Dictionary (p. 143, 2nd ed., Vol. VI). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Gastil, J. (2008). Political communication and deliberation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Iyengar, S. (1994). Is anyone responsible?: How television frames political issues. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Kwansah-Aidoo, K. (2005). Prospects for agenda setting research in the 21st century. In K. Kwansah-Aidoo (Ed.), Topical issues in communications and media research (pp.35-59). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Klein, A.G., Byerly, C.M., and McEachern, T. M. (2009). Counterframing Public Dissent: An analysis of antiwar coverage in the U.S. media. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 26(4), 331-350.
Metzger, M. J. The study of media effects in the era of internet communication. In R. Nabi & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects (pp. 561-576). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
McCombs, M. & Shaw, D.L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176-187.
Price, V. & Feldman, L. (2009). News and Politics. In R. Nabi & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects (pp. 113-130). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Shah, D.V., McLeod, D.M., Gotlieb, M.R., and Lee, N. Framing and agenda setting. In R. Nabi & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects (pp. 83-98). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Waller, R. L., & Conaway, R. N. (2011). Framing and counterframing the issue of corporate social responsibility.
Journal Of Business Communication
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"