Journalists' Framing of Terrorist Attacks and Audience Reaction: A Longitudinal Case Study of The Boston Globe
Mou-Danha, Seseer Prudence
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Journalists’ Framing of Terrorist Attacks and Audience Reaction: A Longitudinal Case Study of The Boston Globe (4.189Mb)
This study aimed to elaborate on the presentation of news about the Boston Marathon bombing on The Boston Globe’s Facebook page and people’s reaction to it. A social crisis such as this invites people’s attention to online news sources for seeking details. Reports presented by journalists can encourage, elicit fear, strengthen communities, and/or foster cooperation. As much as journalists try to be objective in their reporting, the ways in which they frame a story can influence audiences’ responses. The primary objective of this study was to understand how news frames align with audience response. The analyses of news posts and audience comments were guided by theoretical frameworks of Framing and the Six-Segment Strategy Wheel. Content and interpretive analyses were performed to identify and explain the primary themes in The Boston Globe’s news texts and images, and the responses of their audience. Data related to the Marathon bombing were collected from The Boston Globe’s Facebook posts and comments, dated April 15, 2013–April 30, 2014. The study employed a constructionist approach, arguing that reality is created through interactions on social platforms. Content analysis was done by applying traditional news frames: economic, human interest, responsibility, morality, and conflict, as well as Taylor’s SSSW. Interpretive analysis was carried by interpreting the findings through a societal context. This study demonstrated that framing a terrorist attack through a criminal justice model as opposed to a war-based model had milder implications for punitive action. In addition, journalist’s identification of a suspect as a terrorist did not seem to mitigate the justice view of the case. More importantly, social identification of the suspects played a salient whole in perceptions of guilt and penalty.