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Patterns of consistence and constriction: How news media frame the coverage of direct democratic campaigns


Gerth, Matthias A; Siegert, Gabriele (2012). Patterns of consistence and constriction: How news media frame the coverage of direct democratic campaigns. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(3):279-299.

Abstract

Journalists have the power to enhance the visibility of certain aspects of campaign issues and, thus, are relevant mediators between political actors and citizens. To serve the public interest, news media coverage should include the views of different political camps and should enable citizens to build opinions in an enlightened way. The authors analyze journalists’ framing of the coverage of a 2008 campaign on the naturalization of immigrants. Content analysis was conducted of all campaign coverage by TV stations and major newspaper outlets over a period of 14 weeks. To identify dominant frames, the authors coded all campaign arguments made in news media coverage (N = 3,570). The results show that media coverage focused on three substantive frames—rule of law, mass naturalization, and people’s final say. The findings reveal that coverage was not balanced but was clearly in favor of the rule of law frame. This framing bias applies to different types of media, including public service TV and elite newspapers. Furthermore, the authors found a striking bias toward institutional actors, who were covered much more often than civil society actors.

Abstract

Journalists have the power to enhance the visibility of certain aspects of campaign issues and, thus, are relevant mediators between political actors and citizens. To serve the public interest, news media coverage should include the views of different political camps and should enable citizens to build opinions in an enlightened way. The authors analyze journalists’ framing of the coverage of a 2008 campaign on the naturalization of immigrants. Content analysis was conducted of all campaign coverage by TV stations and major newspaper outlets over a period of 14 weeks. To identify dominant frames, the authors coded all campaign arguments made in news media coverage (N = 3,570). The results show that media coverage focused on three substantive frames—rule of law, mass naturalization, and people’s final say. The findings reveal that coverage was not balanced but was clearly in favor of the rule of law frame. This framing bias applies to different types of media, including public service TV and elite newspapers. Furthermore, the authors found a striking bias toward institutional actors, who were covered much more often than civil society actors.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:March 2012
Deposited On:30 Apr 2012 14:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:46
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0002-7642
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764211426326

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