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Framing evolution and media patterns at front-page. Longitudinal study of Spanish Newspapers (1980-2010)

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Abstract

In nowadays society, frames on political information has become a central element in building process of social agenda and public opinion. During the last decades, this decisive concept has been adopted as a generalized professional tool between political actors and journalists. Specifically, the growing importance of media frames lies in its capacity to structure efficiently the discourse about the main events and social problems, and, as a result, to set the citizens public priorities. Within media coverage, the press reference front-page represents an object of study especially relevant in informative, professional and social terms. In this informative space can be identified in a synthesized way the frame regularly proposed by the media from a professional selection and maximum hierarchy criteria that serves as a reference both to specific audiences (politicians and others journalists) as generalized (individuals). From a longitudinal analysis of the Spanish press, the objective of this paper is to review the evolution and the main framing trends and, in particular, to detect established professionals patterns in political information as the most significant evidence of media frames building process. To analyze this object of study, the sample focuses on the two most important Spanish newspapers with editorial line clearly differentiated (El País / ABC); selects an extended and historically significant period (1980-2010); and takes the most relevant news on the front-page as unit for applying the technique of content analysis to 800 news. So, following the development of this empirical analysis, this paper provides results on the degree of fulfilment of classical framing functions (Entman, 1993), the use of keywords and other discursive resources, and the setting of professional patterns detected to the more established typologies in framing studies. The updated assessment of these general trends allows formulating hypotheses about future evolution of journalistic production and news coverage.