Award Holders: Jenny Kitzinger, Emma Hughes, (Cardiff) and Graham Murdock (Loughborough)
Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Based at: Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC)
Media framing of risks involves complex processes both at the level of media representation and of audience reception. Representing risk involves telling stories, providing context, prompting hopes and fears, invoking images and associations, inviting identification, allocating blame and stimulating the imagination. This project provides a multi-level analysis of media discourses and their potential influence on public perceptions. We are using interviews, media analysis and focus groups in order to examine:
The research involved interviews with key stakeholders (n=38); analysis of media coverage (six months); focus groups with diverse ‘publics’ (n=20 groups) and follow up interviews (n=45). We examined the framing of GM food, stem cell research and nanotechnology.
Our research shows that the frames used to define the risks and the benefits may be more important in shaping how people respond to risks than the balance of 'factual' information. Key 'discursive cues' in framing of risks are:
The success of such framing devices in penetrating popular discourse varies. The notion of contamination, for example, dominates media/public discourse about GM crops and the term 'embryo' has been more successful than terms such as 'blastocyst' in the stem cell debate. However, even an evocative term such as 'embryo' may be associated with acceptable risk-taking if the benefits (e.g. medical advances through stem cell research) are sufficiently highlighted. Our focus group research highlighted the fact that:
Kitzinger, J (2009) Myths and Realities podcasts: Making sense of risk, a presentation from the public debate held at the British Library Conference Centre on 18 November 2009
Kitzinger, J (2010) Questioning the sci-fi alibi: a critique of how 'science fiction fears' are used to explain away public concerns about risk. Journal of Risk Research, 13(1):73 - 86
Questioning the sci-fi alibi: a critique of how...
Kitzinger, J (2008) ‘Questioning Hype, Rescuing Hope? The Hwang stem cell scandal and the reassertion of hopeful horizons', Science as Culture 17(4): 417-434
Hughes, Emma, Kitzinger, Jenny and Murdock, Graham 'Media Discourses and Framing of Risk',Social Contexts and Responses to Risk Network, 27 – 2008 (2008)
Media Discourses and Framing of Risk [291KB]
Hughes, Emma and Kitzinger, Jenny (2008) 'Science fiction fears? An analysis of how people use fiction in discussing risk and emerging science and technology', SCARR working paper.
Science fiction fears? [81KB]
Horlick-Jones, Tom, Walls, John, and Kitzinger, Jenny (2007) Bricolage in action: learning about, making sense of, and discussing, issues about genetically modified crops and food’ Health, Risk and Society , 9(1): 83-103
Kitzinger, Jenny (2007) ‘Framing and Frame Analysis’. In Devereux, E (ed) Media Studies: key issues and debates. Sage: London. p134-161
Hughes, Emma (2007) ‘Dissolving the nation: Self-deception and symbolic inversion in the GM debate’ Environmental Politics 16(2) 318-36. Also to be reprinted in Bluehdorn, I and Welsh, I (eds)The Politics of Unsustainability: Eco-Politics in the Post-Ecologist Era, Taylor and Francis Group: London.
Kitzinger, Jenny (2006) ‘The Role of the Media in Public Engagement with Science’ in Turney, J (ed)Engaging Science: thoughts, deeds, analysis and action. Wellcome Trust. 44-50
Hughes, Emma, Kitzinger, Jenny, Murdock, G. (2006) ‘Risk and the Media’ in Taylor-Gooby, P and Zinn, J (eds) Risk in Social Science, Oxford University Press: Oxford. 250-270
Hughes, Emma (2005): ‘The Contaminated Risk of GM Crops: Nationalism and the Genetic Modification Debate.’ Journal of Public Affairs 5: 251-262.