Framing a Kidnapping: Frame Convergence between Online Newspaper Coverage and Reader Discussion Posts of Three Kidnapped Romanian Journalists

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Virginia Tech

In late March 2005, three Romanian journalists were kidnapped by an obscure group of Iraqi militants near Baghdad. Several unusual details about the circumstances of the kidnapping prompted the Romanian media to investigate the speculation regarding the authenticity and motives of this high profile case. This thesis project extends framing theory to incorporate macro-level frames such as cynicism, speculation and metacommunication as dominant reporting styles in this evolving democracy. A systematic content analysis was performed on 255 news stories spanning 75 days from Evenimentul Zilei and Jurnalul National. Additionally, 2,941 of their subsequent online reader discussion posts were content analyzed using the same categories as the news stories to serve as a point of comparison between media reports and public discussion about this bizarre case. Results support evidence of generic media framing and extend the theory to demonstrate media's reliance on speculation and metacommunication as overarching reporting styles. Online deliberation between readers in this evolving democracy demonstrates difficulties in citizens' abilities to emerge from the spiral of cynicism characteristic of the post-communist Romania. While media establish the issues for public dialogue, they do not appear responsible for setting the tone.

Framing, Internet, Macro-frames, Generic Frames