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CNN's framing of September 11: Suggesting an appropriate response to terrorism
Unformatted Document Text:  26 Gamson writes that the last stage of a framing analysis should attempt to address the “complex interaction of texts with an audience engaged in negotiating the meaning.” 36 Obviously it is beyond the scope of this analysis to show how CNN’s framing of the first 12 hours of September 11 coverage impacted viewers. We can, however, suggest that by creating a frame of unified, justified military retaliation in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks CNN notably contributed to the confinement of the parameters of meaningful citizen debate. If advocates for pacifism of critics of American foreign policy were given some meaningful voice in the public debate, then at least we could conclude that the American system of democracy and First Amendment ideals were put into play. Historian Howard Zinn has said that it is easy to protect free speech rights, expand debate and hear many voices when the stakes are small, but when the issues are life and death America’s democratic government has a history of choking the debate. 37 In this case, CNN provided an example of how the media was complicit in narrowing rather than broadening meaningful discourse about America’s response to the events of September 11, events that had real human consequences both then, now and likely into the future. 1 Aaron Brown, CNN anchor, reacting to the first tower collapse, 11 September 2001. 2 Pew Research Center, American psyche reeling from terror attacks, 19 September 2001. Available online at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?reportID=3 . Pew Research Center, Terror coverage boost news media’s images, 28 November 2001. Available online at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?reportID=143 . Elizabeth White, “CNN Widens Lead in Terrorist Coverage,” Media Life Magazine, 24 September 2000, 4. 3 Amy Reynolds and Brooke Barnett, “This Just In … How National TV News Handled the Breaking “Live” Coverage of September 11” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Miami, FL, 2002).

Authors: Reynolds, Amy. and Barnett, Brooke.
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26
Gamson writes that the last stage of a framing analysis should attempt to address
the “complex interaction of texts with an audience engaged in negotiating the
meaning.”
36
Obviously it is beyond the scope of this analysis to show how CNN’s
framing of the first 12 hours of September 11 coverage impacted viewers. We can,
however, suggest that by creating a frame of unified, justified military retaliation in
response to the September 11 terrorist attacks CNN notably contributed to the
confinement of the parameters of meaningful citizen debate. If advocates for pacifism of
critics of American foreign policy were given some meaningful voice in the public
debate, then at least we could conclude that the American system of democracy and First
Amendment ideals were put into play.
Historian Howard Zinn has said that it is easy to protect free speech rights,
expand debate and hear many voices when the stakes are small, but when the issues are
life and death America’s democratic government has a history of choking the debate.
37
In this case, CNN provided an example of how the media was complicit in narrowing
rather than broadening meaningful discourse about America’s response to the events of
September 11, events that had real human consequences both then, now and likely into
the future.
1
Aaron Brown, CNN anchor, reacting to the first tower collapse, 11 September 2001.
2
Pew Research Center, American psyche reeling from terror attacks, 19 September 2001.
Available online at
http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?reportID=3
. Pew
Research Center, Terror coverage boost news media’s images, 28 November 2001.
Available online at
http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?reportID=143
. Elizabeth
White, “CNN Widens Lead in Terrorist Coverage,” Media Life Magazine, 24 September
2000, 4.
3
Amy Reynolds and Brooke Barnett, “This Just In … How National TV News Handled
the Breaking “Live” Coverage of September 11” (paper presented at the annual meeting
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Miami, FL,
2002).


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