In our view, the best way to defragment news framing analysis is to synthesize related ideas and framing concepts and theorize the relationships between these concepts rather than aim for a unified conceptual definition (or none at all) or a single set of measurements. We focus here on one particular distinction, between generic and issue- specific frames (de Vreese, 2005), and hold that they should not be viewed as two alternative conceptualizations of frames but as complementary layers of framing that are situated on different levels of abstraction. The thesis of our chapter is that both of these types of frames are useful, and that a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of public debates can be gained by combining the analysis of issue- specific and generic frames. This would be one important step toward defragmenting news framing analysis. We bolster this thesis by looking at a small but growing literature that examines what we call “hybrid frames” in news stories. We argue that frames in texts, more often than not, reflect both generic and issue- specific framing practices. Identifying the hybrid nature of these frames is a challenge that is not sufficiently tackled by current research.
Brüggemann, Michael; D’Angelo, Paul (2018): Defragmenting News Framing Research: Reconciling Generic and Issue-Specific Frames. In Paul D’Angelo (Ed.): Doing news framing analysis II. Empirical and theoretical perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge. Available online at https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315642239.
Although there is a broad consensus among scientists and journalists about the existence of anthropogenic climate change as a global problem, some segments of the population remain doubtful about the human impact on it. The internet provides citizens with opportunities to publicly voice their doubts and user comment sections of online media are popular form of user-generated content. This study identifies factors that foster comments that are sceptical or supportive of basic assumptions of anthropogenic climate change, drawing on online news in the US, the UK, Germany, India, and Switzerland. The results show that users adapt to the dominant opinion within the respective media outlet: user comment sections serve as echo chambers rather than as corrective mechanisms. Climate change denial is more visible in user comment sections in countries where the climate change debate reflects the scientific consensus on climate change and user comments create niches of denial.
Walter, Stefanie; Brüggemann, Michael; Engesser, Sven (2017): Echo Chambers of Denial. Explaining User Comments on Climate Change. In Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 12 (2), pp. 204–217. Available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1394893.
Professional norms of science have played an important role in discouraging scientists from raising their voices in public. However, they are increasingly using social media to discuss and publicize their research. This study investigates the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference summit and examines scientists’ social media use by analyzing “digital traces” that scientists left on social media during the summit. Using geolocated tweets, we compare the Twitter use of scientists who attended the conference with those who did not. Combining automated, quantitative, and qualitative content analysis, the study shows how scientists participating in the conference provided live reporting and formed a transnational network. Scientists at the conference and elsewhere engaged in political advocacy, indicating a shift toward a new pattern of hybrid science communication, which includes characteristics that have formerly been attributed to journalism and advocacy.
Walter, Stefanie; De Silva-Schmidt, Fenja; Brüggemann, Michael (2017): From “Knowledge Brokers” to Opinion Makers. How Physical Presence Affected Scientists’ Twitter Use During the COP21 Climate Change Conference. In International Journal of Communication 12, pp. 1–22. Available online at https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/6016/2254.
Theorizing information flows is at the heart of traditional communication theories such as the two-step flow of communication and the concept of opinion leadership. Social media have fundamentally altered how information reaches people. This study examines opinion leadership in social media networks and argues that opinion leaders may no longer need to rely on information provided by the media if they have access to first-hand information. To test this assumption empirically, we used data from the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). Attendees of the conference had direct information about what was happening, which they were able to share live with their followers via social media. We used geo-located tweets to identify Twitter users who attended the COP21 summit. We then located these users in a data set of tweets that were collected based on the main conference hashtag (#COP21) and represent the wider social media debate on the conference. Our results, which are based on network analysis measures and Twitter user data, show that COP21 participants were more central actors compared to the average user in the network, and that they were more likely to have brokering positions. They were also more involved in the debate and received more attention from other users. We used automated content analysis to divide COP21 participants into different actor types and performed the analysis by actor group. The results show only minor differences across the actors and support the robustness of our analysis.
Walter, Stefanie; Brüggemann, Michael (2018): Opportunity makes opinion leaders. Analyzing the role of first-hand information in opinion leadership in social media networks. In Information, Communication & Society, pp. 1–21. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1500622.