A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union last year Theresa May has been working on a plan to execute the separation. Up until recently Mrs. May preached a  “red-line” stance on Brexit, stating that she would never compromise on key issues for her party and other supporters of the split. But when she presented her plan for Brexit a few weeks ago, Mrs. May faced immediate backlash and multiple attacks over her new stance. Critics of this proposal are outraged by her new plan to compromise with the E.U, saying that her proposal is not what she promised.

The New York Times piece, ‘Theresa May Tried to Lead Britain to a Brexit Compromise. Was it Too Late?’, by Ellen Barry goes into depth over Mrs. May’s controversial compromise. But like many articles focused on legislative policy, this article uses the conflict frame, specifically polarized forces, substantive debate, and parliamentary tactics, in order to report on the issue in a way that is enticing to readers. These tactics highlight the existing conflict between lawmakers in Britain and the growing polarization surrounding Brexit.

As defined in Combative Politics, the term ‘polarized forces’ is characterized by presenting the “two sides of the issue […] within the first four sentences [of an article], setting [it] up as an examination of the ‘two sides of an issue” (Atkinson 2017, 37). Barry does this right off the bat in her article. She writes, “the full weight of two and a half years of struggle was visible on Prime Minister Theresa May’s face when she appealed to her colleagues to let go of their passionate, polarized beliefs and support her plan to leave the European Union in a vote on Tuesday.” This introductory anecdote set Barry’s article up to be exactly what Atkinson cautions against: a story that focuses attention on the polarization of an issue or piece of legislation.

In addition to this, Barry’s article uses substantive debate by covering the two-sided debate between elites in response to Brexit legislation. Her article highlights the “political effects of [this] legislation” and the “two sided discussion of [its] efficacy and merit” (Atkinson 2017, 38). Barry does this by including a number of quotes by people close to Mrs. May, their heated opinions about her, and writers who have covered Brexit in the past. She writes that “”She has not prepared the nation for what a compromise looks like,” said Katie Perrior, who served briefly as Mrs. May’s director of communications after she became prime minister. “At the beginning there was so much hard talk. ‘These are my red lines.’ Now people are trying to match the hard-talking Theresa May with another, more compromising one. She has not really explained that gap.” This quote uses polarized forces and substantive debate by presenting the disconnect between what Mrs. May said and what her proposals look like now. It also paints a picture of discontented elites who feel they were promised one thing and are getting another. Here Barry highlights the ways in which people are questioning the merit of Mrs. May’s Brexit.

Lastly, Barry’s article is an example of parliamentary tactics, or “articles that detail strategies to advance preferred policies and defeat one’s they oppose”, in action (Atkinson 2017, 39). Her New York Times article details Mrs. May’s background and how and why she was chosen to handle Brexit. It also lays out strategies that Mrs. May used in the beginning and how those strategies are playing out now. Barry writes that “if Mrs. May’s appeal for compromise has rung hollow, it is due in part to her own choices. For two and a half years as she negotiated Britain’s departure from the European Union, she was secretive about her intentions, like a poker player holding her cards to her chest. Early on, she expended vast reserves of energy reassuring the hard-line faction of her party that she was on their side, declaring boldly that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” This brings direct attention to Mrs. May’s tactics and how she has attempted to execute Brexit for better or for worse.    

All of this can be systematically investigated with the code Atkinson created for identifying the conflict frame and its effects on legislation. As more and more controversy begins to surround Brexit, public opinions of the matter are shifting and many worry that Britain’s politics are dangerously close to becoming a culture war (Barry 2018). For this reason, it is of critical importance that articles surrounding this and other legislation is coded for conflict frames in order to combat possible negative public opinion by bringing attention to its effects.

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/world/europe/theresa-may-brexit.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

Advertisements
A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

Over the weekend the Mueller investigation released some shocking details in regards to Trump’s campaign and current administration. New information about possible Russian collusion and felony charges against the president during his 2016 campaign have been picked up and reported on by the media. Conversations about possible grounds for impeachment are beginning to start on networks like MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox News. Everyone is waiting to see what will happen next and what steps, if any, the president and his legal team are going to take. As is expected with the breaking of a politically and emotionally charged story, a number of news outlets are beginning to release articles about what can be expected in the coming days, weeks, and months, as the Mueller investigation unearths more and more evidence.

Many of these articles include clear examples of journalistic bias. For example, a piece by Washington Post journalists Robert Costa and Philip Rucker called “‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils” demonstrates event dramatization and focuses specifically on the characters at the heart of all the drama.

Bennett defines dramatization as news stories that “emphasize crisis over continuity, the present over the past or future, and the personalities at their center” (Bennett 2008, 178). While this event and the allegations against Trump are very serious and cause for alarm, the dramatization of Mueller’s findings undercuts their severity. “Lost in the news drama are sustained analyses of persistent problems such as inequality, […] and political oppression” (Bennett 2008, 178). The Washington post article dramatized the event with phrases like “political hailstorm”, “distressing”, “reeling”, and “intensifying”. In addition to this, the article focused on both sides of the aisle, and makes it seem like Trump and his legal team are plowing forward with a kind of ‘you can’t touch us’ attitude. While there was some analysis of the problem at hand and what it could mean legally, the article focused more on the drama between Democrats waiting to take over the House in January and Republicans. It also played off of so called ‘breaking points’, or moments when the presidents hypothetical actions could spell political suicide and cost him support from key Republican senators. Overall, the article focused more on the personalities, specifically Trump and his aides, at the epicenter of the story.  

In addition to this, while this article did a fairly good job at remaining unbiased in their coverage, there was a certain crisis frame placed around their reporting. And because the allegations of crimes committed by Trump is directly tied with an emotion (whether that emotion is positive or one of fear or anger), the crisis cycle as shown by the language used in this article, could hurt the validity of Mueller’s findings by redirecting people into “waves of immediate emotion” and away from fact (Bennett 2008, 178). The evidence uncovered by Mueller is critical to the stability and integrity of our democracy and for this reason it is crucial that the reporting on this evident is done correctly and free of journalistic bias or an attempt to up-sell the event for more ratings.

It is entirely logical, in my opinion, to be concerned and anxious to discover the truth about Trump, no matter what side of the aisle you vote for. This event, if true, marks an extreme assault on America’s institutions and their integrity. And for this reason, journalists need to be overly careful not to slant their coverage towards dramatization as this can have a profound negative effect on the story itself. In order to systematically investigate this bias a code should be developed to pinpoint dramatization and categorize it in order to better understand what it looks like in actions. Similar to what Atkinson did in Combative Politics, a code for dramatization and its severity could help educate readers on how to better analyze articles with dramatic slants. Which is important in order to make sure we, as media consumers, do not get bogged down in our initial emotional responses to particular political headlines.       

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd.   

Bennett, W. Lance. 2008. News: The Politics of Illusion. In The Lanahan Readings in Media and Politics, ed. Lewis S. Ringel, 173-184. Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers Inc.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/siege-warfare-republican-anxiety-spikes-as-trump-faces-growing-legal-and-political-perils/2018/12/08/679b785a-fa59-11e8-863c-9e2f864d47e7_story.html?utm_term=.4f0efec112b9

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

Exploring Bias #2- Wisconsin Democrats v. Republicans

The Huffington Post is a politically left-leaning news source and like other news media, it is not free from bias. I will be analyzing the bias present in the article, “In Stunning Power Grab, Wisconsin Republicans Pass Bill Weakening New Governor,” published on The Huffington Post by Kevin Robillard. This article comes after what was already a heated midterm election and adds to the long-term feud between the Democrats and Republicans.

The first type of bias in this article can be noticed in the title. Lance Bennett is his book, News: The Politics of Illusion, speaks about a journalistic bias that favors “dramatic and personalized aspect of events over more complex- and potentially more engaging- underlying political realities.” The dramatization bias can be seen in the title, “In Stunning Power Grab..” The author chose this title to use the dramatics of it to engage a reader and have them believe the event was more dramatic than it actually may have been. It also alludes to the fact that Democrats may believe Republicans are power-hungry and do not want the other parties to have any power.  

Throughout the article in addition to dramatic bias, the article shows bias in heated conflict and polarized forces, like Atkinson discusses in her book Combative Politics. The author states, “Wisconsin’s lame-duck, Republican-controlled state Legislature passed on Wednesday a host of measures designed to kneecap Gov.-elect Tony Evers, other Democrats elected to statewide offices and hurt the Democratic Party in general.” This is the first sentence of the article and he immediately pins the Republican party and Democratic party against one another. The author is using language in this sentence, and throughout the article, to make the Republican party look like the bad guy. It also uses the verb “kneecap” to add to the heated conflict. He uses this type of language to make it seem like all the Republican party is worried about is hurting the Democratic party.  

All through the article the author, Kevin Robillard, continually pins Republicans against Democrats like they are rival sports teams instead of political parties doing what they think is best for their state and country. This is continually adding to the bias of heated conflict and polarized forces. Near the end of the article the author states, “What didn’t flip was Republican control of the state Senate and Assembly, thanks in large part to the gerrymandered nature of the legislative districts.” This quote again shows that the author wants the reader to believe that this event is even more dramatic than it actually is. The article is taking advantage of the fact that his readers are already angry about the lost election and want to blame everything that is going wrong on the other political party, creating very polarized forces.

This conflict frame of dramatization, polarized forces and heated debate, is just adding to the already deep divide we have among political parties in our country. This type of bias is hard to recognize for either side because it tends to agree with what Democrats, or in another case Republicans, already believe.   

I have acted with honesty and integrity and am unaware of anyone who has not.

Ronni Winter

 

Works Cited

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/in-stunning-power-grab-wisconsin-republicans-pass-bill-weakening-new-governor_us_5c06e268e4b0680a7ec9a289

http://www.lanahanpublishers.com/politics_and_gov.asp

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo25681072.html

 

Exploring Bias #2- Wisconsin Democrats v. Republicans

Exploring Bias #1- Sending Troops to the Border

In today’s news media it is almost impossible to find a source that is free of bias. I will be looking at the article “Trump sending 5,200 Troops to the Border in an Election-season Response to Migrants” by the New York Times and analyzing the bias present in the article.

There are a few different types of bias in this article by the New York Times. One of the main types is ideological bias. The New York Times has not hesitated to critique President Trump in the past and point out that they do not agree with his ideology and agenda. This article is not absent of this. Throughout the article the authors repeatedly call the president “Mr. Trump” instead of President Trump, which shows a bias of ideology. The authors also write, “The rare use of the active-duty military to bolster Mr. Trump’s campaign message has intensified criticism that the president is using the military for political gain.”

The New York Times is using ideological bias in the fact that their ideology does not agree with use of military. President Trump is not necessarily using active duty military for political gain, rather he is using it because he believes military action will solve the border dispute.

Like Atkinson points out in Combative Politics, there can be bias in how a journalist chooses to frame their article. This is definitely present in this article. The authors use bias in the framing of this article by framing in heated conflict.. The authors use heated conflict in the framing of their sentences by using heated words, like in this quote, The military buildup is the culmination of Mr. Trump’s efforts in recent weeks to appeal to his most fervent supporters and to focus the nation’s attention on the migrant caravan.”

Throughout the article the authors use more heated conflict by choosing to use words like, “massing,” “seized,” “warning darkly,” “aggressive,” “dwarfed,” “shatter,” and many other heated words. The authors also choose to always refer to the soldiers as “armed soldiers,” again, to add to the heated conflict of the border issue.

In addition to using this heated conflict, the authors choose to frame their article with polarized forces. As I stated before the article continues to call him Mr. Trump instead of President Trump. This is adding to the issue of polarized forces by alluding to the issue of many Democrats who have claimed Donald Trump is, “not my president.” This framing pins Democrats and Republicans against one another.

As we can see it is very difficult to find an article that is free of any bias, especially an article about such a hot top topic like immigration. The bias in this article forms a specific debate that the author wants to put forward. They want to make the issue seem as aggressive as they can and they want to pin Democrats and Republicans against each other and that is why the used the specific framing that they did in this article.       

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.

Ronni Winter

Works Cited

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo25681072.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/politics/border-security-troops-trump.html

 

Exploring Bias #1- Sending Troops to the Border

Exploring Bias: New York Times

For my first ‘Exploring Bias’ post, I will be focusing on an article that details the effect that gerrymandering has on districts, especially in the 2018 midterms. The New York Times wrote an article titled ‘What’s Stronger Than a Blue Wave? Gerrymandered Districts’, which focuses on the North Carolina 2018 midterms. It explains why North Carolina remained a ‘red’ state, even though many districts turned ‘blue’, or at the very least, more neutral. The article states that the effect of politicians campaigning was less powerful than the effect of gerrymandered districts. Similarly, the article also focuses on other voting rights issues in North Carolina. Some of these include which ID can be used to vote and laws that discriminate against African-Americans.

Media bias is simply systematic deviation from the truth that reflects personal opinion and skew to one ‘side’ or another. In this article, there is media bias present. First, selection bias was implemented by the New York Times when deciding how to frame this story and where to present in on their website. When I found the article, I had to scroll down about a page down to reach the article from the ‘front’ page. It was the first and biggest article presented in the ‘Politics’ section. Deciding to report on this demonstrates that the New York Times feels that the subject of gerrymandering and its effects on North Carolina were important enough. However, they thought other news stories were more important (for example, Trump’s and Cohen’s relationship is the first story).

Next, informational bias, in the sense of dramatization, is present. Journalists will use dramatization to emphasize a point or bring the audience’s attention to something that the journalist thinks is important to the understanding of the article. In this specific article, the emphasis placed on the House seats in the beginning of the article helps the reader understand how big of a deal gerrymandering is and how it affected the 2018 midterms. The article states that “Democrats in North Carolina earned 48.3 percent of the total vote cast in House races but won only three seats; Republicans had 50.4 percent of the vote and won 10 seats”. While this information is necessary, presenting it early in the article might influences the audience’s opinion on gerrymandering.

Likewise, conflict or drama bias is also present. Throughout the article, the issue is presented as Democrats vs Republicans. This could also fall under partisan/ideological bias. Both of these are used to create a divide between the two opinions on a specific issue. In this article, the gerrymandering of districts is presented as a conflict between Democrats and Republicans. The legislature mentioned throughout the article is demonstrated to be either for or against Republicans or Democrats. One of the best examples of this is when the article discusses representatives from North Carolina for Congress: “Of the 57 counties where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, only 17 have a Democratic representative in Congress. But every county where Republicans outnumber Democrats has a Republican representative.”

 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/29/us/politics/north-carolina-gerrymandering.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

 

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Hannah Thompson

Exploring Bias: New York Times

Media Bias: Beto and the 2020 Primaries

In my second look at media bias, I will be looking at one of Politico’s articles about Beto O’Rourke’s formally undecided, yet alleged run for the 2020 Presidential Election. Following the midterm elections that occurred this past month and the buildup for this election which spanned the many months before, Beto made himself a formidable opponent and painted himself as an arguably competent and refreshing candidate for the presidency, even if he was not elected to the Senate. Beto initially denied wanting to run for the presidency because he wanted to show that he was committed to serving in the Senate, but since his loss, he is less sure and seems to waffle back and forth. While not necessarily an event, these speculations are littered with an ongoing dramatization/entertainment bias meant to stir up the pot and guarantee content for a while, much like a conflict bias is thought to guarantee further content. There are multiple articles about this on Politico alone, but I will be using the one titled “Beto Masters the Art of the Tease”

This piece is so interesting because it is not exactly like any bias that we have read about before, but it shares some interesting parallels. The dramatization in this instance is not necessarily the more “violent” or combative nature seen in conflict bias, which uses trigger words about battles or scores or puts things in terms of winning or losing and makes sure to give constant play by plays (like in a televised game or a CNN article presenting the highlights of the game). In a dramatized conflict bias, the presence of an unknown outcome ensures future stories on the matter until someone “wins.” I don’t think that this piece frames a conflict where someone wins as fuel for its stories (although it does acknowledge competition between Democratic candidates for the 2020 primaries). Instead this piece analyzes Beto’s tenuous consideration of submitting himself as a runner in the primaries and his qualifications to fuel its stories. The story can keep going until Beto either officially declares himself running or officially declares himself not running, so it fulfills the need so often seen in a conflict bias driven story.

There are points where it reads somewhat like a paper detailing an athlete’s statistics and at some moments falls more into a traditional ongoing conflict bias frame because of that. I can imagine a sports commentator’s voice voicing Chris Lipinscott’s concession, “He’s so good with small crowds, he does not mind interacting with people with whom he might have a legitimate disagreement. The energy and his personable characteristics are made for the sort of retail politics that have defined Iowa and New Hampshire.” This reading out of his good traits is necessary for this type of informative, yet speculative article, but do come across almost with the same tone as a stats report or even a dating profile.

The title alone is so evocative of what you would read in entertainment journalism with its suggestive title and much of the language it uses. There is a hint of a gossip fodder feel to it even though these speculations are legitimate news based on legitimate events and quotes and opinions from relevant Democrats with an understanding for the primary process and those who have undergone it in the past. For example, using words and phrases like “titillated” or “lit a spark” or “making overtures,” “courting operatives,” and, in the case of urging him to come to South Carolina, speaks of voters as those who “flirt,” “date,” but “understand the importance of a long-term relationship.” This goes back to the idea of O’Rourke being sized up as someone who the U.S. could see some potential in and that only time will tell. Therefore you have to keep tuning in (much as you would a soap opera or something) to find out if he decides to run for president or not.

However, I would argue that nothing concerning the “truth” is inherently lost in this case. I believe that the dialogue and the information that they reported on is verifiably true and credible—mostly because it is largely a speculative commentary on Beto and is not making any broad claims. They recite the quotes that are used true to the person who said them and merely compile it to keep us readers up to date with where Beto stands in terms of the 2020 Presidential Election while hoping that we keep in the loop and continue consuming more of their content. I am torn. While the content is incomplete, it is not inherently inaccurate or lacking in journalistic merit. I don’t know that I’ve read a speculative commentary piece before, but I did find the suggestive, flirtatious language to feel a little much in what I assumed to be a less affected outlet. It was a little excessive, even if it made its point clearly and in an entertaining fashion.

 

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/27/beto-o-rourke-2020-elections-decision-1019690

 

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.

–Susan Wright

Media Bias: Beto and the 2020 Primaries

Exploring Bias Utilizing Kovach and Rosenstiel’s Techniques

To assess biases on Fox news, I decided to follow the techniques that Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel layout for their readers on “Blur”. The techniques offered in the book are to ask questions about the news being consumed: “The first step is simply asking the question: Am I getting what I need from the news? What follows is a variety of ways to answer this question. Could I explain this subject to someone? Make a list of what matters, questions to test whether you are getting the news you need, and stories you remember” (Kovach and Rosenstiel 2011, 165-167). I will be exploring bias on “Grim details in case of Colorado man who killed family revealed in new report” by Matt Richardson with Fox news.

After reading the article and asking the question, ‘could I explain this subject to someone?’ I realize that Fox news includes the bias framing as Mary Atkinson describes that it impacts how we think of the event. Fox news decided to frame the story of the murder of two girls and a pregnant woman killed by their dad and her husband as focusing entirely on the relationship between the pregnant woman and her husband and how it could be possible that he was cheating on her. This article only included a sentence about the actual murder and what he did with the bodies: “Watts, who strangled his wife and smothered his daughters, ages 3 and 4, deposited their bodies in August in a Weld County oil field. He was having an extramarital affair at the time of the murders, providing a possible motive” (Matt Richardson 2018, Fox News). In a moment of explaining this subject to someone, it would be hard to answer questions that the person has such as “when did he kill them?” Framing biases are problematic because we are trusting the news media to narrate events with detail.

In this instance, Fox news is assuming that the readers know a lot about the murder even if the title of the article “grim details” implies that the reader will not have any questions about the event. Also, by framing the event as a love affair and spending most of the time articulating the affair, the public focuses more on the fact that the girls and pregnant women were killed because of a love affair instead of focusing mainly on the terrible murder.

The list I made about the things that I considered important and questions to test whether I got the news I needed from the article for this event goes as follows:

  • When it happened
  • Why the husband/dad decided to commit the murder
  • If he has been to court already
  • What his punishment is, or what it could be

I find that this article has the journalistic bias of dramatization because it chooses to focus on a loving affair and the problems in the relationship with the convicted’s pregnant wife to get the public interested in “the motive” of the murder. This leads me to my next point, we do not know for sure the affair was the motive of the murder. Based on Fox’s narration, it is.

Finally, I believe that the bias of dramatization is important for this case because it is an impactful event based on the positions that the victims were. I like that Fox news decided to dramatize the description of the victims because that is what helps the reader remember stories like this one. By reading: “Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant when her body was found on the property of an oil driller where her husband once worked. The bodies of their daughters were discovered in oil and gas tanks nearby,” the readers take the position of a pregnant woman and innocent children killed, personally.

By assessing bias on an article by Fox News that talks about a very emotional murder using Kovach and Rosenstiel’s techniques, I was able to realize that biases can help the audience remember a story. However, biases can be problematic because biases like framing can set the audience into viewing the story from a perspective that is decided by the news company (ownership bias). It is important to use techniques like the ones above to not only find out if an audience is consuming the news the proper way but to find biases that affect our perspective about an event.

 

Works Cited:

https://www.foxnews.com/us/grim-details-in-case-of-colorado-man-who-killed-family-revealed-in-new-report

Kovach, Bill, and Rosenstiel, Tom (2011). Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury.

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.  /s/ Laura Rativa

 

Exploring Bias Utilizing Kovach and Rosenstiel’s Techniques