Monday, February 16, 2009

Framing and the News

After reading chapter 11 from Baran and Davis, I can see how many of my expectations were formed from the media. And with the media that I and many others consume, there is many errors in it being that institutions such as news stations decide what will be broadcasted. Goffman defines a frame in a frame analysis as “a specific set of expectations used to make sense of a social situation at a given point in time.” (317) These sets of expectations change so often that we do not even notice it because we are surrounded by it all the time. The problem with this is that we do not control what we are being fed by the media. Goffman uses the example of sex appeal in advertisements and the way that the media portrays females to men. I think that most of what we view in the media on a daily basis effects us, even if we do not know it. Almost all social norms started someplace and when we are constantly fed this over and over again in the movies, television and news, it becomes the only thing we know. I will focus more on the news in my blog, and how the news that is picked by the journalists to cover can definitely change our expectations and our “frames”.
Being exposed to this type of news coverage everyday causes up shifts and downshifts without us even knowing that it is happening. If you take a typical 30 minute news cast at 5:00pm, you’ll see a range of stories being broadcasted. The ones with the most violence or hype will get the most time but then they will throw in some random stories that are supposed to make you feel good or happy. Goffman defines this shift as “moving back and forth between serious and less serious frames”. (317) In the McQuail reader, “news is a depletable consumer product, news workers claim that ‘quickening urgency’ is the ‘essence of news’” (265). This is saying that the news workers feel that they have to make a story more urgent in order for people to even read or watch it and that it’s how the news is. This can create a distorted reality to a viewer, downshifting their frame and also causing new expectations about whatever they have viewed.
If a person who believes prior to watching the news, that they live in a safe area, may change that expectation after finding out in the news that three people were murdered the night before. The problem with this is that this could have been the only terrible crime in a very long time, but it will receive so much coverage that it will change people’s way of looking at things. Also with this type of coverage, the relationship between the consumer and the news media will change. James Carey suggests that the relationship between people and the journalists changes depending on what is being put out there and how it is being put out there. News that disrupts the status quo must show that the elites have it under control and that it is only temporary in order for people to feel better.
Do you think that the news has an effect on the way you look at situations on a daily basis? After learning about downshifting and up shifting, can you see how the news tends to do this, even with a 30 minute television broadcast?

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