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Framing in the ‘New Media Environment’: Fox News Channel (FNC) Covers the Bristol Palin Pregnancy
Unformatted Document Text:  Media Ritual in the Centered Media Traditionally, the term, ‘media ritual,’ has signified the unifying function of the press by offering a concept of the media’s role in organizing social meaning that is powerful, plastic, and potentially useful for the functionalist ‘maintenance of society’ (Lincoln, 1989: 53; Ettema, 1990). This definition follows Carey (1975), who defined a ‘ritual view of communication’ as dedicated to the ‘representation of shared beliefs’ (6). Following this, a normative concept of ‘media rituals’ entails the media’s shifting positions within the context of events, which are ‘centered’ around the fixed structure of government (Elliot, 1982; Ettema, 1990; Hallin, 1986; Schudson, 2002). In this context, Ettema (1990) explains the media-structure relationship as a nexus of ‘both stability and change’ for journalistic routines and, thus, for the institution of journalism. This concept of ‘media ritual’ suggests a fluid, working—and cohesive—context within which reporters and their institutional sources interact to frame the ‘news’ (Ettema, 1990). Based on these definitions of media rituals, we assert that framing represents a valid and observable form of a centered ‘media ritual.’ As Reese (2001) explains, ‘[F]rames are organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world’ (11). As the framing process reflects and mediates tensions between dominant social norms and efforts for change, framing represents a shifting and even pluralistic meta-system of social reproduction, albeit one that tends to reify competing

Authors: Durham, Frank.
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Media Ritual in the Centered Media
Traditionally, the term, ‘media ritual,’ has signified the unifying function of the press by 
offering a concept of the media’s role in organizing social meaning that is powerful, plastic, and 
potentially useful for the functionalist ‘maintenance of society’ (Lincoln, 1989: 53; Ettema, 
1990). This definition follows Carey (1975), who defined a ‘ritual view of communication’ as 
dedicated to the ‘representation of shared beliefs’ (6).  Following this, a normative concept of 
‘media rituals’ entails the media’s shifting positions within the context of events, which are 
‘centered’ around the fixed structure of government (Elliot, 1982; Ettema, 1990; Hallin, 1986; 
Schudson, 2002). In this context, Ettema (1990) explains the media-structure relationship as a 
nexus of ‘both stability and change’ for journalistic routines and, thus, for the institution of 
journalism. This concept of ‘media ritual’ suggests a fluid, working—and cohesive—context 
within which reporters and their institutional sources interact to frame the ‘news’ (Ettema, 1990). 
Based on these definitions of media rituals, we assert that framing represents a valid and 
observable form of a centered ‘media ritual.’ As Reese (2001) explains, ‘[F]rames are organizing 
principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to 
meaningfully structure the social world’ (11). As the framing process reflects and mediates 
tensions between dominant social norms and efforts for change, framing represents a shifting and 
even pluralistic meta-system of social reproduction, albeit one that tends to reify competing 


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