Friday, November 5, 2010

Framework at work

In Elizabeth Hanson's "War & Peace in the information Age", she talks about how the news "frames" events in particular ways. She exclusively talks about four methods of framing (cultural congruence, degree of consensus, amount of control over flow of information and nature of the event)as a way of explaining the perception the news gives to the public viewer, thus eliciting a certain response from the viewer. I personally got a taste of this "framing" today at work, in viewing the latest set of hurricanes to hit the already earthquake recovering island of Haiti.

The news cast centered around Hurricane Tomas which caused extensive flooding in camp/villages in Haiti. What caught my eye was that the news report followed some of the very same concepts expressed by an earlier reading,Lillie Chouliaraki's "The Symbolic Power of transnational media". The entire broadcast showed only maps of the devastated area, scenic/panoramic views of the flooding from above and when it did show individuals, they were in dryer regions holding a regional flag stating something to the effect of "this is nothing, we've seen worse". Ultimately giving the impression to the viewer (at least to me), that action need not be taken. The event was something mild and didn't require my attention nor my assistance as Chouliaraki puts it "do nothing, care not".

This inicident, small as it was, gave me a realization of just how easy it is for the media to down play an event and influence the actions of others. In this case, I was not aware, as possibly many individuals that saw this broadcast, that the area hit was already suffering from Cholera and most inhabitants still living in tents from the earthquake that crippled much of Haiti in January. It took searching it up on Google, under "Hurricane and Haiti" to get any news coverage that indulged more on the event and the details of the inhabitants.

The nature of the event, the flow of information and maybe even the political outlook on the event possibly wagered that it wasn't important enough to be given a detailed portrayal. Being a flood that only killed a few, damaged an already damaged area wasn't pertinent enough news to bother the American public with it. Thus, it was framed in a way that simply informed others of the winter destruction that comes with hurricanes and nothing more. This was more obvious when the event following it was the local weather outlook.

Therefore, it seems the news and the political outlook on a situation of possible crisis can have further ranging effects then are first realized. Resulting in a framing and portrayal that can be detrimental to those in need but everyday news for those viewing it from afar.

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