July 13, 1998

Framing the News

What Triggers a Frame

What Triggers a Frame

These findings raise another question: If we look at each narrative frame alone, how often did it stem from a particular trigger? In other words, how closely do journalists associate each frame depending on where the story originated? The study suggests some clear tendencies.

Nearly four-in-ten times a journalist frames a story around an explanation, a released research report has been the trigger. Similarly, four-in-ten times an ongoing trend frame is adopted, the newsroom has used enterprise to get the story.

Nearly half the time a story is framed around speculation, it is either triggered as a preview story or by the journalist's own attempt at analysis or interpretation. Nearly half of all personality profile frames emerge from news triggered by the journalist's use of enterprise.

Further, journalists were much more likely to frame stories around conflict rather than agreement when they initiated through their own enterprise. Enterprise framed three times more of the conflict triggers (9%) than of the point of agreement triggers (3%).

Journalists also tended to associate the frames of wrongdoing and injustice and horse race with government action or speech. Nearly half (49%) of the horse race frames occurred with this trigger as did more than one third (35%) of wrongdoing and injustice frames.