Framing a Story and the Impact on the Media Landscape

An interesting post today highlighting “framing” of a story and the impact it can have driving traditional media.  As spot-on as the article is related to the impact of framing, it is also an indictment of how lazy much of the traditional media machine has become and the influence of non traditional media.

News framing is the process of filtering and transmitting news through an angle or ‘frame’ in order to support specific ideologies, stimulate widespread attention or persuade an audience. They are narratives which contextualize information. As a form of selective reporting, news framing is a remarkably useful tactic for bloggers, journalists and marketers.

Politico recently published an article about media hype in political journalism which talks about how trivial or sensationalist news stories capture the attention of the political-media community much more than important stories or serious reporting.

An example used in Politico’s article was Hillary Clinton’s invocation of Robert Kennedy’s assassination as the reason for continuing her presidential campaign. This created some controversy as the media interpreted this statement to suggest that Barack Obama might be assassinated before the democratic nomination concludes, hence allowing Clinton to win.

This particular Clinton comment was made in an 20-minute interview with the editorial board of the Argus Leader newspaper in South Dakota. According to Politico, the original dispatch from the Associated Press didn’t mention Clinton’s remarks about Robert Kennedy at all.

In fact, the New York Post was the first news source outside of South Dakota to highlight Clinton’s comments by publishing an article titled ‘Hillary Raises Assassination Issue’, which included a shortened video clip showing only the specific comment.

What the New York Post did was typical of most journalists: They examined the original documents and framed the news story by focusing only one or a few statements. Instead of reporting all the points made in the interview, they focused on fleshing out a controversial sound-bite and by doing so gave the story a more interesting or stimulating angle.

The New York Post story got to the Digg frontpageand chalked up over 4,000 diggs in a little more than a day. Subsequently, the same ‘assassination frame’ was picked up and published on numerous popular political blogs and several other news sites, most notably the New York Times, Washington Post and evening news outlets like ABC, CBS and NBC.

Pressed by an onslaught of media coverage, Clinton made effort to clarify the issue, explaining that her remarks about Robert Kennedy had absolutely nothing to do with Barack Obama.

Why did I mention this story? Because it’s an excellent example of how news framing or the selective reporting of news can be used to improve your content’s viral potential.

Read the entire article on framing a story


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