In today’s thoughts, I’m looking at how we learn to frame stories and examine how this helps you provide authority in journalism.
There’s a scene in Frasier where Roz has just announced she’s pregnant and pretends to Bulldog that it’s his baby. She paints a scene that leaves him terrified and quaking. She then adds on that he was so tender in the morning, at which point Bulldog snaps out of his terror and realises it was a joke. ‘Good one, Roz. You had me going there.’ (link)
That one inaccurate or jarring fact, derailed the whole story. Admittedly, it was a joke story but it is a useful way of looking at how journalists learn to frame stories and how they and any activists soon learn how to stick to the main narrative.
There’s some wiggle room for a drop intro or a tangential anecdote perhaps but once you get to a point that can be used as a distraction from your story, then you’ve lost track of the thread.
Reporter: Do you admit, Mr Kent that you pulled that phone booth out of the ground when you visited the scene yesterday with your dog Rocky?
Clark Kent: My dog’s name is John. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and I cannot take you seriously. (or they will answer the trivial question rather than the substantive one)
There’s a new book out called News Framing Effects by
Rooted in both psychology and sociology, framing
effects theory describes the ability of news media to influence people’s attitudes and behaviors by subtle changes to how they report on an issue.
I’ve mentioned previously when talking about the Canary and its lack of a certain newspaper/professional journalist style. How does one learn to write in a way that focuses the story, doesn’t let its content be used to derail the conversation, and is believable as an authoritative voice in journalism.
I want to look at this in exploring how citizen journalists gain their ‘authority’ voice.
When I asked the editor of a local magazine if his journalism course taught him how to keep questions focused so as not to be derailed, he said that wasn’t taught, it was just common sense.
Step one, find the literature.