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Journalistic Frames vs. User Frames in News Discussion

The next paper at Digital Methods is by Nina Springer, who continues the framing theme. Classical framing research examines the impact of frames on audiences, while it is obvious that audiences aren't simply passive recipients, but actively engage with media frames; is this the case especially in new and social media spaces?

This is also a question about the plurality of opinion - the multiplicity of frames may point to the presence of diverse opinions in media coverage. This can also be understood from the perspective of interpretative repertoires: within any repertoire, multiple interconnected frames may exist and involve logics of evaluation, logics of action, and typical actors and structures.

The study coded articles for the presence of diverse frames, and the logics of evaluation and action they may include, focussing on articles and user comments from five German online news sites that covered key events in the European financial crisis.

Key logics of action in the articles were related to negotiation, exchange, and technology, while logics of action in user comments were more broadly distributed; logics of evaluation focussed on functional, economic, and civic areas, while user comments were strongly focussed on an inspired logic of evaluation. Articles referred largely to concrete events and plans, while comments pointed more to general patterns, using metaphors especially.

What emerges from this are various frame fragments for the articles and user comments, which correspond to some extent with each other. The need to develop solutions as expressed in articles correlates strongly with the responsibility of politics and politicians as recognised in user comments, for example; however, some frame fragments found in articles or user comments also did not have a corresponding fragment on the other side.

So, users both repeat, elaborate, and comment on journalistic frames; they are systematically different from articles in terms of their level of abstraction and their attribution of responsibility. Journalistic frames are not entirely useful for understanding these user frames, but user comments do not simply constitute a counterpublic, either.