Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Framing and Priming Effects in the Media

There are many factors as mentioned on some of the other postings here that have an effect on shaping the election process. These all include, projecting the image and issue advertisements to influence campaign results, watering down politics to appeal to voter apathy, agenda setting and the like, but two other contributing factors you should be considering as a highly influencing media practices that can control the flow for what is considered important on the campaign trail includes framing and priming.


What should be left in and what should be left out? Framing, according to McGrady (2007), "Refers to the way in which opinions about an issue can be altered by emphasizing or de-emphasizing particular facets of that issue. " The concept, first developed by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, pointed out in their research that decisions can be made or changed if they know the outcome as a gain or a loss for that decision. Under these circumstances, framing, the technique used in political addressments, can be used to highlight what the candidate belives is important without straying away by defining their interpretations a certain way. This happens in two ways; equivalencey framing and emphasis framing, where one covers the, "'Use of different, but logically equivalent, words or phrases' to describe the same possible event or issue." and the other, "Involves highlighting different, 'subsets of potentially relevant considerations' of an issue (McGrady p. 218)." The overall goal behind these two forms of communication in politics usually come from one derrived goal, persuasion. Candidates want people to believe and agree with the same ideas that they do. This is extremely important to achieveing success on the campaign trail and in the long run, without the right persuasion, could end a political career for a nominee.
It is important for you to be media literate about framing because it is potentially a harmful practice becasue of its potential to neglect important facts about what the presidents plans really are. Do not take everything for granted on this. Framing is a powerful tool used by both the media and candidates to get what they want or to reach out and distribute a message about a partcular policy or support for them. often, out for the best interest of the one doing the framing. Along with framing, priming goes hand in hand because of its tendency to come from the medias perspective of candidates compared to their own projections as worthy nominees.

Here, the media chooses the criteria by which political leaders are judged. Often, the more prominent an issue is in the candidacy, the more influence it has on the publics assesment of the candidate. When there is a job to be done in this nation and on the terms of issue ownership, where a party is more likely to control the decisions over a particular topic, priming gets the medias attention by providing coverage over that particular issue along with the candidate most suited to talk on the issue and gain support. This process is a sort of finding the best person for the job like concept. Look closely at the levels of priming especially towards the end of the year when elections are taking place, there usually are very clear correlations to what news is being covered and how the head to head candidates each fit into those controversies in order to better tell who would best be suited for the new year.

Being Media Literate
There is an issue though concerning this, along with the problems mentioned with the practice of adgenda setting on issues in America, priming can mislead audiences apathetic to the electoral process. priming can give the false impression that one candidate can lead better over another without actually giving justice or coverage from both sides. be weary here when the media tells you which candidate is going to do the better job. get out there and research for yourself and see how a candidate's preceeding policies or practices in governmet work may influence how they would handle a national situation. Don't let the biases of new corporations decide because of party related politics. Get out there and become educated on the media effects of priming and framing!

Discussion questions:
  1. Why do you think that priming practices are elevated especially right before elections in November? For instance, why would a candidate have a better chance for getting their message across when it comes down to the wire. Think contemporary issues.
  2. Is priming fair? Should the media eliminate priming in order to eliminate biases against candidates of another party that don't particularly support certain policies or is that the point of priming?
  3. When candidates and the media use framing to get the "important parts" of a message across, do you think they are always telling the truth. Where is the line drawn between what's important and what is not?
  4. How is framing different from agenda setting?
Iyengar, S., & McGrady, J. A. (2007). Media politics: A citizen’s guide. New York: W. W. Norton.

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