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Framing Expertise Goes Green: The German Green Party and the Nuclear Debate

Viorela Dan
Freie Universität Berlin
Viorela Dan
Freie Universität Berlin
Øyvind Ihlen
Open Panel

Abstract

The need to frame issues, to highlight certain aspects and promote a particular interpretation at the expense of other aspects and interpretations (Entman 1993), is very accentuated in the political arena where controversies over the “right” framing, aka framing contests, belong to daily practice. In Germany for instance, the fact that the current Government (conservative-liberal) reversed the nuclear phase-out decided by a previous governing coalition (Social Democrats and Greens) led to a textbook example of a framing contest. We use this as a test-case for refining the theoretical construct of framing expertise proposed by Dan and Ihlen (2010). Their analysis suggested that framing expertise includes the ability to (1) adhere to journalistic needs (e.g. news values), (2) achieve cultural resonance, and, (3) use psychological biases (Dan and Ihlen 2010). In this paper we want to explore the role of visuals in framing, since they are not given much attention in current research. We hypothesize that the ability to employ visuals in the framing work will enhance framing success. Thus, the research question we pursue is: What role do visuals play for framing expertise? To this end, we investigate into the above described controversy by analyzing on the one hand approximately 30 minutes of video news releases from the period 26.10.2009–26.10.2010. On the other, we relate our findings from their own PR-material to the coverage of the most influential German newspapers during the same period: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt. // Bibliography: Dan, V., and Ø. Ihlen. 2010. "Framing expertise. A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Success in Framing Contests." Presented at the EUPRERA Congress 2010, Jyväskylä, Finland. Entman, R.M. 1993. Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication 43 (4): 51-8.