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.