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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing media mergers in France and the United States 10 Despite the existence of massive publicity pressure, at the other end of the spectrum, an opposite – though more qualified - position has staked its theoretical ground: “at least some of the time the media themselves drive the political debate” (Callaghan and Schnell, 2001, 186). This position was based on a comparative content analysis of interest groups, politicians and television newscasts that dealt with American gun control legislation. The study found that the media introduced original frames of their own, and manipulated politicians’ and interest groups’ frames to enhance their dramatic content in conformity with production values that ascribe drama a premium. Simultaneously, the authors contended, the media blocked most of the messages communicated by the NRA. The authors provide a very persuasive case in support of the media’s capacity for autonomy. However, their account of the motivations that lead journalists to capture the polemical initiative leaves something to be desired. They speculate that the pro-active position is the result of either the competitive media climate that demands news organization to inject drama into otherwise bland policy debates; a prior ideological preference journalists might have for the gun control position; or a response to popular pressure. They do not provide evidence for any of these propositions, though they voice support for the first option. A similar analysis of abortion debate coverage in American newsmagazines before and after Roe V. Wade (covering the period 1960-1979), found that between a third and almost a half of the frames used were either novel creations of the media or heavily edited versions of opinion group frames adapted to the media’s appetite for drama and novelty. “Unquestionably, media involvement escalated as the debate evolved, suggesting that the media did not actively promote their own issue spins until others had first defined

Authors: Davidson, Roei.
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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
10
Despite the existence of massive publicity pressure, at the other end of the spectrum, an
opposite – though more qualified - position has staked its theoretical ground: “at least
some of the time the media themselves drive the political debate” (Callaghan and Schnell,
2001, 186). This position was based on a comparative content analysis of interest groups,
politicians and television newscasts that dealt with American gun control legislation. The
study found that the media introduced original frames of their own, and manipulated
politicians’ and interest groups’ frames to enhance their dramatic content in conformity
with production values that ascribe drama a premium. Simultaneously, the authors
contended, the media blocked most of the messages communicated by the NRA. The
authors provide a very persuasive case in support of the media’s capacity for autonomy.
However, their account of the motivations that lead journalists to capture the polemical
initiative leaves something to be desired. They speculate that the pro-active position is the
result of either the competitive media climate that demands news organization to inject
drama into otherwise bland policy debates; a prior ideological preference journalists
might have for the gun control position; or a response to popular pressure. They do not
provide evidence for any of these propositions, though they voice support for the first
option.
A similar analysis of abortion debate coverage in American newsmagazines before and
after Roe V. Wade (covering the period 1960-1979), found that between a third and
almost a half of the frames used were either novel creations of the media or heavily
edited versions of opinion group frames adapted to the media’s appetite for drama and
novelty. “Unquestionably, media involvement escalated as the debate evolved, suggesting
that the media did not actively promote their own issue spins until others had first defined


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