They were framed!!! Yep…and you were too.

In my last post I spoke about agenda setting and I want to continue that thought process by talking about framing. It’s important to understand the difference between the two. As I said before, agenda setting is the media telling you what to pay attention to. However, framing is when the media uses certain language and activates schemas or stereotypes to make you feel a certain way about an issue. Here is an example of how the media uses framing to manipulate the audience. Take a minute and look over both of these magazine covers. Make sure to really examine both of them…I will wait….


So what do you think? Interesting isn’t it that the victims of 9/11 are portrayed by an innocent and white girl while “The Children of Bin Laden” are portrayed by an African American boy who looks hardened by life. It is said a picture is worth 1,000 words and this picture doesn’t fall short. The two different magazines have activated certain schemas or ideas that we believe about who is the victim in this country and who is the enemy.

Framing can be identified in an article by looking at how the author has portrayed what the problem is, who’s at fault, how they want you to feel about it, and what the author suggests is the solution. It’s a bit more difficult in this situation to identify all of these factors because we are looking at images and we don’t have the full article to verify the answers. Now these two magazines are presenting the same problem, 9/11 and the people that were affected by this catastrophe. The “People” magazine presents the problem in the perspective of the 10 year old children who were not yet born when their fathers were killed in the 9/11 attacks. “Newsweek” talks about the way that the threat is changing, who the terrorists are and what has been happening since that day in terms of fighting terrorism.

The people at fault change as well are the terrorists that flew the planes into those buildings and killed the fathers of those children. The people at fault in the “Newsweek” cover are a little more hidden, while we still blame the terrorists the idea of WHO the “terrorists” are have changed.

In “People” the cover speaks of the “Legacy of Love” and the poor people who have had to overcome great sadness and tragedy to get where they are today. The cover uses words such as “love” “hope” and the imagery of the innocent looking child to get the audience to feel sad and hopeful for these families. We start to sympathize and we remember what a tragic day it was for so many people across our nation. A sense of patriotism may spark in you as you remember the way people come together to overcome terrible things that happen in life. It really is beautiful what they are setting you up to feel. In the “Newsweek” cover we are set up to feel much differently. The picture is putting a face to this “mutating extremist threat”, they use words such as “terrorist” “a failed bombers odyssey” to strike in the reader a sense of fear.  A journal titled “Who is the Victim here?: The psychological effects of over representing White victims and Black perpetrators on television news” published by Travis Dixon looked into the idea that we have been conditioned to believe that white people are the victims and black people are the perpetrators when we see them in the media. This picture is adding to that idea that African American people are at fault while white people are just innocent by standers. The conclusion that the author is leading us to seems to be the same in both magazines, defeat the terrorists. This isn’t blatantly said but we are lead to that conclusion by the imagery. We are sad about the families lives that have been ruined by this tragedy. We are fearful about these new terrorists and what it means for us to not who or where they are? What is to be done but to find them and make them pay.

We start with the same problem in two different magazines but the stories are spun into two completely different stories. In one we see how 9/11 has affected these poor victims and how their families have had to rebuild. The second we see who is at fault and what is to be done about this new, emerging, threat that no one can identify or control. It’s important when gathering your news and looking into what’s happening in the world to get more than one viewpoint on the story. It’s pretty incredible the psychology that is involved in journalism and the media, and how easy it is for them to use that psychology to initiate feelings and emotions about different stories. I spoke in the first blog post about cultural hegemony and this is a tool that is used to keep hegemony in our society. If we are always reading the same news that sparks in us the same feelings about different groups of people, how are we to break free of that and start breaking down the hegemony.


6 thoughts on “They were framed!!! Yep…and you were too.”

  1. First of all, solid framing pun. But, what a fantastic example you used in order to represent framing. Both covers are clearly making a statement by choosing which picture is going to be prominently displayed on the cover. What kind of schemas are they trying to activate by using these particular photos?


    1. We have been conditioned in the United States to recognize white people as victims and black people as perpetrators. There have been multiple studies done about it and I believe that by putting the picture of a black child on the front of the magazine they are trying to remind people that the enemy is not like “us” while still reminding people that the victims in this tragedy were the innocent white children.


  2. This post was especially interesting in the entire way you decided to present it. Its funny how actual picture frames can ultimately, metaphorically be related to framing in media. Anyway, your example was perfect to show how two stories with the same problem are entirely portrayed differently. Of course, we aren’t surprised that the “victims” are shown as white and the perps are black. It’s interesting to think about how this may really affect people and their view on 9/11…all which isn’t true based upon these magazines.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great representation of framing, especially seeing the two magazine covers side-by-side. This is something I never really paid as much attention to before I learned the concept of framing. and now I’m starting to see it everywhere. The picture of the young boy reminds me of the way the media portrayed Michael Brown after the Ferguson shooting. Instead of using his school photo, they used a photo of him holding up a gang sign. It amazes me how hard the media tries to shove a specific perception down your throat of a certain race. It’s no wonder they used a young, sweet-looking girl to represent the Caucasian race. But why couldn’t they use a picture of a young, well-dressed African American man for the other cover? I loved that you brought up that psychology plays a factor into this. It really does mess with your brain and provide these schemas of certain races. Hopefully, we can move to a post-racial society one day and leave these issues behind.

    Liked by 1 person

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