July 13, 1998

Framing the News

Impeachment and Kosovo

According the this study, front page coverage of the Clinton impeachment trial­at least for January and February­was triggered a significant amount of the time by journalists wanting to do their own analysis and interpretation but relied much more on the actions of those involved. One-in-five impeachment stories were triggered by analysis, compared to nearly three-out-of-five (59%) that were triggered by a statement or action by a government official.

Similarly, journalists' coverage of Kosovo relied much more on news triggered by the government (63%) than it did on their own analysis and interpretation (10%).

Still, analysis and interpretation were treated with importance. A story with that trigger was more likely to be placed in the lead (1st, 2nd or 3rd) as it was to be lower on the page. The same was true of stories triggered by preview information.