Public communication Kenneth Burke Dramatism theory Framing theory Media and terrorism Government communication
Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Canel, M.J. & García Gurrionero, M. (2016). Framing analysis, dramatism and terrorism coverage: politician and press responses to the Madrid airport bombing. Communication & Society 29(4), 133- 149.
The media and terrorism is an area that has attracted researchers’ attention in looking at the strategic dimensions of framing. This paper combines both Entman’s framing theory (and his ‘cascading activation’ model for analysis of framing contests) with a dramatistic approach to rhetoric (the Burkean concepts of the pentad and ratios) to see whether connections can be made that help provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of interactions between politicians’ words and media reactions to those words. Speeches given by the Spanish Prime Minister and the official opposition in reaction to a terrorist attack in Madrid are analysed. Our empirical analysis shows a highly fragmented capacity for cultural resonance, and a ‘two sided context’ with two very different interpretations of the situation. Our findings demonstrate that an appreciation of the dramatistic approach to rhetoric enhances our comprehension of people’s motives for adopting or rejecting the different frames used by leaders (politicians and the media) as they seek to frame issues for a range of purposes. They also suggest that combining approaches from the humanities and the social sciences by emphasizing motives as a key variable for the dynamics of framing contests might open up interesting avenues for research on framing as also on the relations between symbols and actions.