MALICIOUS FRAMING

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 07:58:56 +0000

FRAMING is a major concept in mass
media and journalism profession.

It is a concept where the media sets an agenda by focusing on the general essence of issues rather that dealing with specific issues or topics thereby developing a cognitive bias around a topic covered.

The media, in this regard, chooses to focus and present information in a manner that not only places them in their field of meaning but indeed presents a perspective, perception or standpoint viewed from the prism of the institution presenting the information. It may have very little to do with facts and reality.

If anything, given the current media scenario especially on social media, political bias does not allow facts to interfere with the presentation of information in a manner that suits the particular institution.

Therefore, any little fact will be presented in a manner that best suits the political ends of the media and its sponsors. As a neutral term, framing should be about presenting relevant information to the consumer founded on comprehensive research to enable the consumer make an informed choice.

However, political framing means that the media gives a deliberate political stance through social construction which is usually not neutral but is suffused to values and subjective interpretation.

The basis of the framing theory therefore is that the media reports on events and then places them within a field of meaning.

The advent of fake news has compounded the  agenda setting role of the media in our country.  For example, the creeping hike in maize meal prices was at first attributed to an increase in fuel prices.

There was absolutely no relationship between the fuel price escalations with maize meal prices, but it was convenient for some media houses to score points by attributing the price rise to a public policy decision made by Government.

Sadly, even without any research, public media that should be more rigorous with fact checking was more than ready to present public indignation against the so called K5 maize meal price hike blamed on fuel and ultimately therefore on
Government.

However, facts have unfolded that expose a very different picture. They expose greed and selfishness among the business sector which wants to exert political pressure on Government to release cheap maize on the market.

However, what is even more insidious and perhaps treacherous, is the deliberate underplaying of pure market dynamics being replaced by a political agenda.  Instead of speaking for the farmer who produces and stores at a cost, the narrative is inverted into politics.

Sadly, these antics have become commonplace. Every event, including the weather is politicised.  Those who should rebut through simple fact check allow perfidy and cunning to pass to the detriment of fact.

Therefore the more sensational, the more believable. This is the reality that must be confronted.

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