Reputation is framing

by salla

Framing is a term used in a bit similar way in several disciplines. In sociology and communication studies discussions of framing usually follow the work of Erwin Goffman (1974). Linguistic researchers of psychologists might rather refer to Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (1981). The basic idea is pretty much the same in all disciplines.

Framing refers to the social construction of a certain social phenomenon. Frame is a schema of interpretation, building on the meanings attributed to words or phrases. Thus, frames are basic cognitive structures guiding the perception and representation of reality. They are unconsciously adopted in the course of communicative processes. In fact, frames can define, which parts of reality even become noticed. This is especially true when framing is done by mass media or specific organizations producing mediated, informational content.

In Media2, we talk about framing effects caused by the media company or media service. But we wish to look at bit further than just the textual level of framing societal issues. If we broaden the concept of frame a bit, there are actually multiple processes of framing going on simultaneously. We posit that the reputation of the media is working as a frame influencing how the news actually is interpreted, and also a frame defining the willingness to consume content within that frame, i.e. to consume that specific media.

These frames are not meaningless, since they have a strong connection to trust and to human behavior: “People trust others who share their own symbols and interpretative frames as they can predict the behavior associated with those values” (Zucker 1986, ref. Puncheva 2008). Thus people use media they can trust and they can associate themselves with.

And to make it more complicated, not only the news media is framing the news, but the news is counterframing the media, the journalist is framing the issue and the journalist’s frame is again framing the media. Furthermore, also different kind of new media services are acting as frames in every day media consumption. For example Google News, Ampparit or other news aggregates are framing different news from different media services to single list, bundling together all the news of same topic. And in fact, we could say that Google is a powerful megaframe for all information search online.

Reputation theories give us some tools to look at these framing interactions. For example  in connection to corporate reputation Mahon & Wartick (2003) talk about issue reputation, stakeholder reputation and process reputation, each of which are affecting one another through complex interactions. They remind us once more that reputation is not determined solely by organizational action but through stakeholder interactions, produced framing effects and credibility transactions. Thus framing can also be a powerful tool in reputation management.

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Goffman E. (1974). Frame Analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mahon, J. F., & Wartick, S. L. (2003). Dealing with stakeholders: How reputation, credibility and framing influence the game. Corporate Reputation Review, 6(1), 19–35.
Puncheva, P. (2008). The role of corporate reputation in the stakeholder decision-making process. Business & Society, 47(3), 272.
Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. (1981). The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice. Science. Vol 211(4481) pp.453-458
König, T (n.d.). Frame Analysis: Theoretical Preliminaries (www)

schema of interpretation

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