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Comparison of News Channels' Reports on the Florida School Shooting

Question:

Discuss about the Framing analysis from a rhetorical perspective.

The concept of framing stems from the understanding that, news and reporting of news, whether intentionally or unintentionally will be coloured by the perception and ideology of the one delivering it (Stacks and Salwen, 2014). A frame is the structure, mostly intentionally developed, that the media may organize and present events or ideas, to deliver a specific perspective, to the public (Tarlau, 2014).

This paper focuses on the recent case of mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, USA on 14th February 2018 and compares the ensuing reports on the case by five news media channels on 15th February 2018.

The paper presents a frame analysis of five news channels, namely, New York Times, NBC News, USA Today, BBC and Sydney Morning Herald.

The assignment is based on an incident of mass shooting at a school in Florida, USA that occurred on the 14th of February 2018. It has created massive media upheaval with every big and small news medium publishing multiple documentations of the incident and its aftermath.  This paper follow five such channels namely New York Times, NBC News, USA Today, BBC and Sydney morning herald ,provides a brief analysis of their portrayal of the incident. The analysis specifically compares what they have published on the 15th of February, a day after the incident of interest. Each article by different media houses across different regions has varied statistics of the casualties, which made it a challenge to identify the authenticity of the information. Each on media house presents a different perspective on the incident and reveal varying implications of the incident and varying viewpoints that are being expressed by people from different sections of society (Brüggemann , 2014). The selected articles are chosen to review how the respective channels reported on the issue in the morning of 15th February. The articles focus on the many details of the incident, the ensuing reactions of the victims and the families, the police and other officials including president Donald Trump who have commented on the tragedy and also on the public reactions and opinions arising due to the incident as new developments continued to arise.

The fourteenth of February 2018 proved to be a dark day as, yet another incident of a mass shooting at a high school in Florida ended up taking away the lives of seventeen people and wounding at least fifteen. The respective articles covers the sad incident.

Regarding the concerned incident BBC reported on the morning of 15th February, with the headline, “Florida shooting: At least 17 dead in high school attack” (BBC News, 2018). The headline only reveals the nature of the incident and gives a rough estimate of the possible fatalities. It carries a very impersonal impression however evokes curiosity regarding the details of the attack. Similarly, The NBC News reported in their headline, “17 killed in mass shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida” (Chuck, Johnson and Siemaszko, 2018). The headline immediately draws attention to the gravity of the loss that had resulted from the tragedy emphasizing on the casualties of act. It emphasizes the homicidal nature of the attack and the breach of human rights of the victims. The headline of the New York Times at the same time reads, “The Names and Faces of the Florida School Shooting Victims” (Smith, Salam and Bidgood, 2018). The headline humanizes the victims of the attack, instead of reducing the loss to a mere statistic. It appeals to the sensitivity of the readers and tries to evoke the realisation of the fact that the victims could have been anyone that they knew and that this trend of public shootings is a real threat to society that could affect anyone at any time. It makes the readers really feel for the loss that the family and friends of the victims would be facing, promoting a sense of solidarity among the readers and society. USA Today reported under the headline, “Florida school shooting suspect ordered a drink at Subway after deadly assault” focusing on the attacker himself (Stanglin and James, 2018). The headline seems to emphasize the apathy of the suspected attacker. Unlike NBC news, which offers a more or less clinical headline and the New York Times who approach the issue from a more humanized viewpoint, but both, making the loss of the victims the main subject of the article, this focuses on the suspected attacker himself, juxtaposing the inhumanity of his act with his own human existence. The Sydney morning herald reported, “Gunman in custody after more than a dozen killed at Florida high school” focuses on the danger of the incident (Clun, 2018). It reveals that with the attacker apprehended, the situation is now under control. It sheds lights on the law enforcement and security aspect of the incident. It however does not say much about the victims, save for an estimate of the human casualties of the attack.

Analysis of BBC, NBC News, USA Today, New York Times, and Sydney Morning Herald Reports

The article by BBC, even though present a very clinical heading provides a very informative, empirical and well-rounded account of the situation (Kuypers, 2012). The article covers questions such as, who is the attacker and whether there were any indications of his penchant for violence in the past. It also addresses how the attack unfolded from the perspective of some of the students on site of the attack, reactions of government officials and celebrities as well as data regarding the trend of similar incidents, which is rampant in the USA. Finally, it compares a similar tragedy, which took place in 2012 and dubbed as the worst incident since then where the gunman had murdered twenty children and six adults before committing suicide (BBC News, 2018). It presents an overall and detailed picture of the incident and the rampaging menace of shootings that USA has been facing since 1999, which has carried on until 2018 with at least eighteen reported incidents of school shootings around school grounds this year alone (Matthes, 2012). It presents the grim picture of public violence arising out of the lack of gun safety laws and asserts how it is getting steadily worse.

NBC news in comparison presents a look at how the attacker carried out the attack. It however takes an angle of the personal conduct of the attacker and the impression of his peers and guardians regarding his conduct in the past. It reveals his history with the school and a little bit about, his home life and seems to suggest his disturbed upbringing, which may have contributed to his motivation for the attack. Next, it focuses the rising anxiety of the students and their parents regarding school violence from personal testimonials (Chuck, Johnson and Siemaszko, 2018). It raises the question of accountability of the attack and tends to shift some of the blame from the attacker to the administration, which has allowed for ease of gun access to the public (Vucetic, Malo and Ouellette, 2015). It emphasizes the rising threat of such incidents by pointing out that there have been a total of twenty deaths and more than thirty injuries related to such attacks in 2018 alone.


The article by New York Times focuses solely on the victims by presenting a homage to the victims. It features a solemn picture of the survivors and families and friends praying with solidarity as they mourn the heart breaking loss of the innocent lives. The article consists of a brief notes on each of the victims, describing who they were and the life they could have led if not for the tragedy that befell them. It also features close up photographs of the victims, evoking a greater sense of empathy among the readers (Smith, Salam and Bidgood, 2018). The article deviates from all the statistics and details of the attack to deliver an intimate look at the victims and victims alone as the headline suggests. It directly addresses the consequences of such attacks perhaps hoping to appeal to the sensitivities of the readers regarding the price that the country continues to pay for the lack of gun control laws (Thompson, 2013). It highlights how each of these individuals came to lose their lives and the personal cost their loved ones have had to pay and it seems to have most certainly done a very good job at fulfilling what it intended.

Interpretations and Implications of News Channels' Framing

USA Today presents an intimate look at the accused attacker, Nikolas Cruz and his personal history that led up to his transgression. It follows Cruz from his initial escape from the scene of crime to his appearance at court. It quotes the details of the attack in the attacker’s own words. It reveals how he made his getaway by blending among the other students. The article however goes on to quote his attorney, Melissa McNeill, according to whom Cruz is a “broken child” with a history of depression. It also reveals that Cruz is on suicide watch and according to McNeill, is remorseful of his actions. The article reveals a picture of a broken teenager unable to handle his reality and emotions who ended up lashing out his frustrations and anger in a most horrifying way, the details of which are then described in terms of the situation at ground after those horrifying minutes of carnage (Stanglin and James, 2018). It also speaks of the warning signs that were present that could have prevented the tragedy had it been taken more seriously. It gives a sense of the situation from the perspective of the perpetrator as opposed to his victims (Xu , 2013). The article ends by emphasizing the call for stricter gun control laws the advocates of gun control laws have always been raising and now with this incident seems to be resonating among all those affected as well as the rest of the country.

Sydney Morning Herald present a general overview of the incident. It presents an unbiased report of the incident stating the identity of the attacker, the way he had infiltrated and executed the attack as revealed through the testimonies of the enforcement officers and government officials including the president Donald Trump who is quoted to be saying, “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” Consequentially it provides a look at the official stand of the right wing government and the law enforcement (Clun, 2018). It highlights the plight of the students who were trapped in the situation through their testimonies. It however does mention about the prevalence of such incidents in the US with two hundred and ninety cases of shootings since 2013 and 18 cases in this year until now. It also reflects on the show of solidarity from all corners of the political sphere in the US.

The media houses vary in their report of the incident on 15 February based on their understanding of the situation and personal ideological as well as emotional response of the writer to the unfolding events. Sydney Morning Herald gives the most thematically straightforward article enumerating the series of events that unfolded since the attack and the reactions that given by the notable personalities in office who called for strict punishment for the accused and stand of solidarity. The New York Times presented a uniquely themed article expressing the immense loss that the country faced. It pulls at the heartstrings of the readers calling for a unified stand against the horrors of mass shootings. The article on the surface is uncharacteristically devoid of political bias and present a simple yet potent homage to the victims. Underlying this it evokes a need for change, which could prevent further tragedies such as these (Valkenburg, Peter, and Walther, 2016.).It is a clever attempt at rousing public sentiment, which is essential for social mobilization (Benkler et al., 2015). The BBC article fully advocates abolishment of gun use by public, explicitly recounting the statistics representing the deaths and injuries due to mass shootings in the USA and placing the blame squarely on lack of gun control laws. The NBC news explores the underlying human nature of the attacker and establishes the point that perhaps the blame does not solely lie on him but also on the system, which aided him to acquire the weapons so easily. The sentiment is partly echoed in USA Today’s article which also explores the perspective of the accused raising the question whether a person afflicted by mental burdens could be completely made liable for his actions or whether the establishment also has a role to play in keeping such incidents in check . Thus, two themes become apparent, one placing all the blame on the shooter and the other questioning whether the establishment could have prevented it by stricter laws sparking the old debate on gun control (Krippendorff , 2012).

Conclusion

The articles through use of frames present the experience and views of the same tragic situation of the carnage unleashed upon yet another school in the United States of America from varied angles ranging from victim to perpetrator to law enforcement and establishment to the concerned parents and friends and to the advocators of gun and its opposition.  However, one of the common factors that all unanimously seem to agree upon is the alarming rise of violence in USA and the decreasing security in public life. The incident seems to have sparked yet another debate over gun laws in the country as made apparent from the two major opposing themes found in the articles discussed.

Reference

BBC News., 2018. At least 17 dead in US school shooting. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43066226 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Benkler, Y., Roberts, H., Faris, R., Solow-Niederman, A. and Etling, B., 2015. Social mobilization and the networked public sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA debate. Political Communication, 32(4), pp.594-624.

Brüggemann, M., 2014. Between frame setting and frame sending: How journalists contribute to news frames. Communication Theory, 24(1), pp.61-82.

Chuck, E., Johnson, A. and Siemaszko, C., 2018. 17 killed in mass shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida. NBC NEWS. [online] Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/police-respond-shooting-parkland-florida-high-school-n848101 [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

Clun, R., 2018. Gunman in custody after more than a dozen killed at Florida high school. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/world/florida-sheriffs-office-responding-to-reports-of-active-shooter-at-a-high-school-20180214-h0w3v2.html [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Krippendorff, K., 2012. Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Sage.

Kuypers, J.A., 2012. Framing analysis from a rhetorical perspective. Doing news framing analysis: Empirical and theoretical perspectives, pp.286-311.

Matthes, J., 2012. What's in a frame? A content analysis of media framing studies in the world's leading communication journals, 1990-2005. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 86(2), pp.349-367.

Smith, M., Salam, M. and Bidgood, J., 2018. The Names and Faces of the Florida School Shooting Victims. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-school-victims.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Stacks, D.W. and Salwen, M.B. eds., 2014. An integrated approach to communication theory and research. Routledge

Stanglin, D. and James, M., 2018. Florida school shooting suspect ordered a drink at Subway after deadly assault. [online] USA TODAY. Available at: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/15/parkland-florida-high-school-shooting/340071002/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Tarlau, R., 2014. From a language to a theory of resistance: Critical pedagogy, the limits of “framing,” and social change. Educational Theory, 64(4), pp.369-392.

Thompson, J.B., 2013. Ideology and modern culture: Critical social theory in the era of mass communication. John Wiley & Sons.

Valkenburg, P.M., Peter, J. and Walther, J.B., 2016. Media effects: Theory and research. Annual review of psychology, 67, pp.315-338.

Vucetic, S., Malo, J. and Ouellette, V., 2015. Terrorism made simpler: A framing analysis of three Canadian newspapers, 2006-2013. Canadian Political Science Review, 8(2), pp.59-73.

Xu, K., 2013. Framing occupy Wall Street: A content analysis of the New York Times and USA today. International Journal of Communication, 7, p.21.

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My Assignment Help. A Frame Analysis Of News Channels Reporting On The 2018 Florida School Shooting [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2019 [cited 18 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/framing-analysis-from-a-rhetorical-perspective.

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