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Media Framing Mosque at Ground ZeroResearch Paper

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¶ … media framing in relation to the construction of a mosque at ground zero. We identify the various frames used by various media houses in America and compare and contrast them. We analyze the related literature and the basic concepts involved in media framing. A general overview of the concept of media framing is also provided.

Entman (1993) describes framing as a scattered concept where previous researchers lack clear conceptual meanings and depend on context-based definitions, rather than general applicability. Brosius and Eps (1995) proceeds that framing may not be clear in explication and generally used but can be seen as a metaphor which does not convert directly into research setting.

While different authors agree that there is lack of commonality in the definition of this term, people have often used the term frame to refer to similar but different approaches. For this particular article, I now use the term framing to refer to the way media houses use mind-controlling technique to gain readership and viewership by providing what appears to be new but intricately woven to control the thought process and opinions.

Framing can be compared to the setting of agenda or opinion but stretches the research by pin pointing the issues that area at hand instead of a particular topic. Framing theory makes the media take an issue and then places it to connote a new meaning or opinion. It is a very important technique since it makes the media tailor the thoughts of the masses towards a particular direction hence they become opinion leaders. When the media selects topics, they direct the people where and what to think.

When journalists choose a frame, they make sure that they even provide a structure in such a way that their audience only interpret what is provided. A frame is a notion which serves to organize or direct social meaning to a given issue at hand. Their intention is to make the targeted audience to think about the news bulletin or article and how to think about it.

This article looks at the myths, stories, metaphors, and narratives and traditions that the media employed to capture the attention of the American citizens and the world at large and cause the proposal to construct the mosque near ground zero a big story. While research has shown that the proposed Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque was not to be constructed at the ill-fated World Trade Center site, the frames that were used clearly depicts that the media conditioned the thoughts of the audience to think in a particular direction by associating the 9/11 bombing by the Muslim Extremists and the construction of the cultural center.

Literature Review

Extant literature has been dedicated to the concept of media framing. This literature can be categorized into four broad stages. The initial stage which gives an account of media framing that occurred between the 1920s and the 1930s was characterized by event that occurred during the World War I such as propaganda effects as well as its beliefs regarding beliefs on the influence of media on the attitude of people (Scheufele, 1999). The second phase took place between the 1930s and the 1960s and was marked by issues that tended to put forward the gravity and need of personal experience in the process of changing the attitude of people. The researchers who noted this did believe that the main media effect was concentrated on the reinforcement of the attitude that were already in existence as postulated by Klapper (1960). The study of the third stage which took place between 1970s and 1980s gave life to the new media effects that were even stronger. The focus of the media was however rapidly shifted from attitude changes to more cognitive-based effects as outlined by Noelle-Neumann (1973). Lastly, fourth stage which has been running from 1980s to present has been heavily marred by elements of "social constructivism," as shown by the work of scholars such as Berger and Luckmann (1966), Gamson and Modigliani (1989) and Tuchman (1978) who are all social scientists.

The other portion of literature on this stage of media effects has also been researched and discussed by political scientists such as Ivengar (1991) and Scheufele (1999) where the concept of social constructivism attempts to make an explanation on the possible relationships that exists between media and the audience via a combination of elements of strong as well as limited media effects in the domain of mass media.

The work of Gamson and Modigliani (1989, p. 2) categorically expressed the fact that "Media discourse is part of the process by which individuals construct meaning, and public opinion is part of the process by which journalists…develop and crystallize meaning in public discourse." The work of Gamson and Modigliani (1987) further portrays the real essence of media framing as being the main organizing idea or rather the story line that gives a meaning to certain upholding string of events. The frames therefore do suggest what a certain controversy is about as well as the real essence of the issue involved (Gamson and Modigliani, 1987, p. 143).

Entman (1993) however points out that the meaning of a frame is tied down to the selection of certain aspects of a reality which is perceived in order to make them salient so as to promote a certain definition of a problem, its moral evaluation, causal meaning as well as the treatment of the recommendations (Entman, 1993, p. 52).

The work of Iyengar (1991) made a differentiation between the thematic and episodic media frames. These episodic media frames are a depiction of public media issues which in essence are concrete instances as well as specific events that come about as a result of individualistic actions. The thematic framing reports on the other side are a systematic reflection of the problems that take place in our society on a level that is considered abstract but with outcomes that are general. The media framing of the Mosque at ground Zero is a perfect example of thematic framing

The work of Simon and Xenos (2000) on media framing was concentrated on the analysis of media framing in order to research the influence of public deliberation that is actively involved in the process of social creation as well as the changes that occur in our society over a period of time. They point out that deliberation is a process involving political argumentation that moves on through a process of discursive giving and taking. The effects are therefore intricately linked to the media framing effects as was indicative in their research (Simon and Xenos, 2000, p. 367).

The work of Gamson and Lasch (1983) came up with an identification of various framing as well as reasoning devices that can be utilized as a combination in order to create frames. The framing devices include metaphors, exemplars, and visual images, depictions and metaphors. These do suggest a framework to be used in viewing of the issues involved. The reasoning devices on the other side include roots, appeal principles and consequences. They are used in the provision of justification and reasons for the general positions that are adopted (Gamson and Lasch,

1983, p. 399).The work of Stone (2002) makes an addition to the list of devices that include synecdoche as well as numbers. Synecdoche refers to figure of speech which represents an idea in its entirety or in parts. Numbers on the other hand are used as a method of describing a certain phenomena as well as events using measurements. The most favorite technique is the use of ether abnormally large or small numbers in order to dramatize an idea as pointed out by Stone (2002,

p. 137)

Identification of three frames used in the context of reporting describing them clearly


A very dominant frame used by CNN's Anderson Cooper in the framing of the mosque near ground zero is numbers. They used extremely large statistics in order to show how grave the situation was being objected by a higher percentage of the Americans. They purported that a poll they conducted revealed that 68% of Americans opposed the construction of the ground zero mosque. What the authors of the so-called large statistics do not understand is that while these numbers may be lower or close to their projection, this happened after anti-Muslim campaigns by the media and other paranoid crusaders hiding the truth and letting the politicians use the issue to fight their own battles while the construction of the religious center becomes a scapegoat (CNN, June 6th 2010)

On November 11-2010, the other dominant frame used by CNN in debate with Pamela Geller, is the use of the phrase ground zero in quotation. This framing of issues is identified as shorthand. In almost all its references, the term ground zero comes out more frequently than the term Park 51 which is the actual site of the proposed Islamic center. In the same discussion, Pamela, who had called a rally against what she perceived as an attempt to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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