The Power of Media Framing Essay

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The way the media frame issues has a subtle yet significant effect on the general public. Studies have shown that frames can help determine which procedures we find medically necessary (Edwards, Elwyn, Covey, Matthews, & Pill, 2001), can influence our ability to recall critical details of a news story (Valkenburg, 2000), and can even subtly influence elections (Shah, Domke, & Wackman, 1996). Given the impact frames can have on the general public, it is important to have a clear way to conceptualize and measure their effects.
The most recent full explication of frames and framing effects comes from Bertram and Dietram Scheufele (2010), and serves to define what frames are, what they do, how they do it, and where they come from. However, it
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510–11). The three core parts of this definition are the construction of a frame, its influence on individual cognitions, and its function.
The Function of Frames
Perhaps the most important of these to understand is the purpose of a frame, and why frames exist. In Entman’s (1993) preeminent piece2, he identifies four basic functions: (a) defining a problem, (b) establishing the cause, (c) assigning responsibility, and (d) suggesting possible solutions (p. 52). A single frame can fulfill all or some of these functions. Often, multiple frames will be used in conjunction with each other to build a complete narrative that fulfills all of them (Chong & Druckman, 2007), while it is also possible that only one is addressed. In the same vein, a frame can be a single word (Simon & Jerit, 2007), or it could be intertwined across the entire text (Nelson, Clawson, & Oxley, 1997). The way frames fulfil their function is through the selection of certain elements to focus on, while other elements are downplayed or ignored all together. Primarily, this is done to simplify very complex issues, and make them more accessible to lay publics (Nisbet, 2010; Shah et al., 1996).
This need for simplification influences the way individuals think about different
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