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REVISITING ENTMAN'S CASCADING ACTIVATION MODEL
Conference Paper · May 2015
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REVISITING ENTMAN'ʹS CASCADING ACTIVATION MODEL
Ahmet Faruk Çeçen Istanbul University, Turkey [email protected]
Ahmet Faruk ÇEÇEN, graduated in Marmara University Faculty of Communications in 2012, has earned his master degree in 2014 in Istanbul University Faculty of Communications for which he has been working as a research assistant since 2012 and continues his Ph.D. in the same faculty under the journalism department. He has focused foreign news in American Media in his master thesis “Evaluating American Media in The Context of Media Politics Relation in Foreign News: An Analysis of 2013 Egypt Military Intervention in New York Times Sample.” He is the editor of the “Communication Books Series” in Turkey, an enterprise mainly focusing on trying to turkify concepts and have a common language between Turkish communication scholars by translating books one of which, “Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy” belongs to Robert Entman who developed the Cascading Activation Model.
Entman, criticizing hegemony and indexing models presents an important model in media policy relation, relating to foreign news, especially emphasizing what has changed after Cold War paradigm and policy uncertainty. It can be considered that there might be transformations even more effective than Cold War phenomenon some of which seems to be missing in Entman’s model. With the emergence of the internet and social media it would seem hard for any top-‐‑down model to survive considering we witness the decline of the mediating effect of media and individual form their own frames. It would be exaggerated to claim that mainstream media would disappear but as already witnessed there is a convergent media environment which is not only dominated by the Western based news organization but also various ones like a Middle East-‐‑based news organization, Al Jazeera. It is an environment which also gives audience the chance to be exposed to foreign news sites and other perspectives throughout the world. In this complex media environment we can hardly claim that Entman’s concept cultural congruence, schemas and journalistic motivations or American government would have the same effect for an American based news organization as there had in the past.
Keywords: Cascading activation model, Foreign news, Framing, Media policy relation, Social media, Internet
REVISITING ENTMAN'ʹS CASCADING ACTIVATION MODEL
The literature in international communication and foreign news is composed of approaches grouped under some basic areas such as the unbalanced news flow approach, manufacturing consent-‐‑propaganda model, indexing hypothesis, cnn effect and orientalism. Criticizing, in particular manufacturing consent-‐‑propaganda model and indexing hypothesis for being too hegemonic approaches, arguing things actually have changed, Entman (2003) asserts: “The media are less dependably deferential as they operate in the new, still evolving international system, a system that is far more complicated and much more unpredictable than was true during the Cold War.” Entman'ʹs (2004) cascading activation model differs from the abovementioned approaches in the way that news organizations react to government’s actions,
To cite this article, Cecen, A. F. (2015). Revisiting Cascading Activation Model, Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium Communication in the Millennium, pp. 357–371. Pdf file, CD.
emphasizing that there is a sequential interaction between different actors unlike hegemonic approaches’ claim that there is government hegemony on foreign news. .”
UNDERSTANDING FRAMES AND THE MODEL
According to Entman, (2004, 5) the first step in building the cascade model is to develop a clearer conceptual grasp of the framing which he defines as “selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and/or solution.” Saying that the words and images that make up the frame can be distinguished from the rest of the news by their capacity to stimulate support of or opposition to the sides in a political conflict, Entman introduces two concepts which are cultural resonance and magnitude letting us measure the abovementioned capacity. To Entman (2003, 417) cultural resonance and magnitude work this way:
Those frames that employ more culturally resonant terms have the greatest potential for influence. They use words and images highly salient in the culture, which is to say noticeable, understandable, memorable, and emotionally charged. Magnitude taps the prominence and repetition of the framing words and images. The more resonance and magnitude, the more likely the framing is to evoke similar thoughts and feelings in large portions of the audience.
Another important concept in Entman’s (2004, 7) model is schemas which are proposed by him as clusters or nodes of the connected ideas and feelings stored in memory. For example a schema for September 11th might include the World Trade Center, airplane hijackers, Osama bin Laden, the New York fire department, and New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani (among others).
Having used the cultural and psychological concepts such as cultural resonance and schemas to have a clearer understanding of framing, Entman (2004) explains the model by saying: “The cascading activation model is designed to help explain how thoroughly the thoughts and feelings that support a frame extend down from the White House through the rest of the system-‐‑ and thus wins the framing contest and gains the upper hand politically.” Figure 1 illustrates the cascading flow of influence linking each level of the system: the administration, nonadministration elites, news organizations, the texts they produce, and the public.
Figure 1: Cascading Network Activation (Entman; 2004, 11)
According to Stolle and Hoogle (2005), citing Robinson, Entman’s model is the modified version of Herman and Chomsky’s direct impact model, the well-‐‑known manufacturing consent thesis which is the first example of top-‐‑down models government-‐‑media relations which they define as “emphasize the ability of governments and state agencies to influence the way journalists view and report about the world, particularly with respect to foreign policy.” By not ignoring the concrete differences such as Entman’s model being less deterministic, between Herman and Chomky’s propaganda model and Entman’s cascading activation model, I should accept that both of them are top-‐‑down models.
The reason why I stand by the top-‐‑down claim of Stolle and Hoogle (2005) can be seen through the exact words of Entman’s: “Figure 1 suggests how ideas cascade downward from the administration’s first public expressions about an event… the metaphor of the cascade was chosen in part to emphasize that the ability to promote the spread of frames is stratified; some actors have more power than others to push ideas along to the news and then to public (2004, 9).”
Contrary to Stolle and Hoogle and Albeit Entman’s criticism towards propaganda model and indexing hypothesis, Thune (2009, 51) found his model close enough to be criticized for being a version of indexing hypothesis: “Entman does not, in an epistemological sense, profoundly contradict the indexing paradigm. What his model seems to suggest is simply that international relations, particularly after the end of the Cold War, have entered a phase marked by deep policy uncertainty, and lack of elite consensus and clearly defined interests or strategies. This lack of an overarching global strategic and ideological climate inflates the ability of the news media to independently frame and define the problems facing US foreign policy-‐‑makers, as well as enabling the media to criticize the policy establishment.” Entman in his book (2004, 12) says something similar to what Thune suggested above about his model’s being close to indexing hypothesis: “By no means always a unified actor, the administration includes a variety of players and disunity and ineptitude can significantly affect media coverage.” As a top-‐‑down model cascading activation tries to understand activation and spread of the White House’s preferred frame to other elites, to news texts, and to the public through the interaction of four important variables: motivations, cultural congruence, power, and strategy. The first and the second of them work internally to “pull” mental associations into individuals’’ thinking. Power and strategy, on the other hand, operate from the outside to “push” consideration of frames(ibid, 13). Motivation belongs not only to administration or other elites but also belongs to the journalists and public. The importance of the motivations for current article lies under this statement of Entman’s: “News organizations and personnel are driven by economic pressure and incentives; professional customs, norms, and principles; and normative values. The latter include self-‐‑images as guardians of democracy, and they may at times modify or overcome the restraining force of the economic pressures and professional norms (2003, 422). As will be explained below news organization depending on its type needs circulation, hit rate or audience. On the condition that they get more global, it would be an understandable motivation that they need to act in accordance with the global audience considering they earn money from foreign audience. And to maintain the image of guardian of democracy seems even harder than ever considering global news organization such as the New York Times and CNN are not only judged as a channel mediating events to people but also they are thought of as the real actors of the events, a point of view that can be exemplified by “Gezi Park Protests” and “2013 Egypt Military Intervention.”
The idea of Entman’s that the more congruent the frame with schemas that dominate the political culture, the more success it will enjoy (ibid, 422) can be the best way to explain cultural congruence. While hitting the right notes with the explanation, Entman misses some points such
as the different environment developed thanks to emergence and wide acceptance of the internet, exposure to various sources like foreign news sites (Best, Chmielewski and Krueger et al, 2005 ) and the so-‐‑called Al Jazeera Effect (Seib, 2008) . Thanks to the cumulative effects all these factors we can claim that cultural congruence cannot be described the way it was in the time when Entman proposed his model or before the wide acceptance of internet as it is not as domestic as it was back then.
WHAT THE MODEL SUGGESTS?
Entman’s (2004, 17) model suggests that the media should provide enough information independent of the executive branch that citizens can construct their own counterframes of issues and events, seeking how much and what kind of counterframing information the media supply. The point Entman made needs to be thought over. In an environment changed by internet and other factors, it would be considered that citizens have enough tools to use both to get informed to construct their counterframes and as a weapon to pressure especially mainstream news organizations.
Entman(ibid, 17) suggests that the model produces new insights about the relationships between White House’s preferred framing and the frames that actually appear in the news, adding that five propositions arise from the model:
1: Presidential control over framing of foreign affairs will be highest when dealing with the culturally congruent or incongruent…
Entman adds that Elite’s quiescence allows the administration’s claims to flow unimpeded, directly through the media. In these instances, the predictions of the hegemony, indexing, and cascade models will be similar. However, according to the model many events and issues are not readily fit and schemas often conflict with each other. Such ambiguous circumstances open more space for elites and journalist to express dissenting views. To win the frame contests over these ambiguous matters depends on motivation, power, and strategy deployed by the administration and other elites, and on journalist’s own motivations. Hence the following propositions.
2: Journalists have strong professional motivations to include oppositional readings of foreign policy in their stories, and enjoy the greatest opportunity to satisfy these motives when the event or issue is ambiguous. Even when U.S. elites fail to challenge the White House, the motive leads journalists to convey a surprising amount of dissenting news.
3: Elites-‐‑especially members of Congress-‐‑have strong motivations of their own for political survival. This leads them to heed indicators of lopsided or intense public opinion. When a large majority appears positively inclined toward the president, other leaders tend to fall silent and coverage of opposing views is unlikely to generate a coherent counterframe. But, when public opinion appears split over ambiguous matters, elite motivations can spur opposition, and strategy and power come to the fore in determining who wins the frame contest.
4: In the post-‐‑Cold War period, if the White House mismanages its relationships with other elites and journalists, especially if it cannot find compelling schemas that support its line, a president may lose control of the frame. For ambiguous matters, under some circumstances,
elite opponents, journalists, and indicators of public opinion may together attain as much influence over framing as the administration.
5: The decline and disappearance of the Cold War paradigm has made the public’s responses to foreign affairs less predictable, and this heightens the media’s role in representation. In unsettled times, politicians and news organizations monitor indicators of public sentiment more carefully than before indicators bound to frames in the media.
WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THE MODEL WAS PROPOSED?
Entman himself as abovementioned emphasizes the decline of the Cold War paradigm marked an epoch, setting the media free from the Cold War frame and letting public perceive things differently than ever. It can be argued that as already stated by Entman and contrary to Manufacturing Consent-‐‑Propaganda Model and Indexing Hypothesis` claim, it is harder for American government to control news organizations and their frames. However, the environment or with the exact words of his `still evolving international system’ Entman talks about has clearly changed and evolved since the time when he suggested in his model.
It is interesting that Entman did not attach much importance to internet considering that his model was proposed in 2004, a time when internet was highly popular already. Entman (2004, 152) says that internet and infotainment just like the Cold War disrupted familiar network of association among ideas and participants. It can be understood that internet can be at most as important as the rise of infotainment is for Entman.
However, there is a similar approach to what the current article suggests in Entman’s book by Patrick Tyler in his column in New York Times “A New Power in the Streets: A Message to Bush Not to Rush to War” describing according to Entman that the impact of international public opinion on George W. Bush’s Iraq policy. But Entman finds his words “there may be still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion” to be exaggerated. In spite of downplaying internet’s importance by finding Tyler’s word exaggerated Entman(ibid, 153) admits that even if foreign sources enjoy scant credibility with most Americans, overseas opposition—more accessible than ever because of the Internet—may stimulate more independent counterframing by journalists, and that can reinforce dissent among U.S citizens.
Although he shows little interest to internet, I should admit that his model is a limited one focusing on generally mainstream media. One year later the model was proposed David Holmes (2005) published his book “Communication Theory Media, Technology, Society” in which he emphasizes the differences between first and second media age.” The way he tabulates the historical distinction between the first and second media age can be seen in figure 2 below.
Figure 2: The historical distinction between the first and second media age (Holmes, 2005, 10)
First media age (broadcast) Second media age (interactivity)
Centred (few speak to many) Decentred (many speak to many)
One-‐way communication Two-‐way communication
Predisposed to state control Evades state control
An instrument of regimes of Democratizing: facilitates universal
stratification and inequality citizenship
Par ticipants are fragmented and Par ticipants are seen to retain their
constituted as a mass individuality
Influences consciousness Influences individual
experience of space and time
Holmes’ contributions challenge Entman’s top-‐‑down model by emphasizing the properties of second media age. A medium judged as decentered, evading state control, and facilitating universal citizenship can hardly be seen as one letting direct impact of government, a top-‐‑down model.
It is highly important to notice that Holmes’ work does not incorporate social media age exemplified by Facebook and Twitter so this is another vital point which is understandably missing in the Entman’s model that I will discuss below. It is also important that accompanied by internet and social media, from interhuman relations and associations'ʹ public relations to diplomacy much has changed.
In a world the way the public perceive things has changed thanks to internet and social media we can claim that it has also changed the way diplomatic affairs are conducted, especially adding the effect WikiLeaks created in both conducting diplomacy and securing diplomatic correspondence.
WHAT IS MISSING IN THE MODEL?
Entman again helps us in our way to express what the public opinion is or if it ever exists or to what extent it exists. Based on the data received from the University of Maryland Center’s survey in which they gave people a set of arguments pro-‐‑going to war soon and anti-‐‑going to war soon. And the interesting finding is that very strong majorities of the public agreed with both sides of the argument, he asks if it is difficult to say in a case like this, which is incredibly well known, debated for months and months, covered ad nauseam, of course how much more difficult is it to figure out what the public really thinks when it comes to less-‐‑publicized, less thoroughly debated issues (2003b). According to Entman’s model schemas, nodes, and cultural congruence are concepts that have something to do with public. On the condition that what the public thinks were ambiguous, framing would be a hard practice to do. One can easily claim that some event would not ever be ambiguous as America or any other nation would share common believes which are incontestable, that is in America’s case would the Cold War paradigm. However, as the creator of the model, Entman (2004, 2) himself asserts that America could not wage a unilateral war against Saddam Hussein by autumn 2002 because terrorism could not provide as unifying a framework as the Cold War mindset once did.
September 11 attacks not only became the leading factor to bring up terrorism to the agenda, but also according to Best and Chmielewski (2005) it led U.S. residents increasingly to use online foreign news sites. Their research’s result indicates that approximately one-‐‑fourth of Internet news consumers use foreign sites, also stating those most opposed to the Bush administration possess the greatest likelihood of supplementing their domestic online news with an online foreign source. Their claim that the consumption of online foreign news sources may damage societal cohesion by further fragmenting the media environment is the answer we look for to challenge Entman’s concepts schemas, nodes, and cultural congruence which all have something to do with domestic logic, that is all of them are concerned with ideas generated locally(just in America). They show that mainstream media cannot be considered as powerful as
it was in the past and American people can be exposed to ideas generated by sources outside of America thanks to internet so public can get rid of partisan news made by the media under the effect of the government. Their research is an example showing public opinion cannot be considered as local as it was in the past.
It might now be the right time to bring up an important concept “global public sphere” used by (Sparks, 2001) and (Volkmer, 2003) first of whom has an negative point of view about the idea of the globally emerging conscious around the world politics thanks to information and communications technologies and the latter of whom emphasizes the importance of it. Having written his article “Is there a global public sphere (1998)“ Sparks wrote an article, “The Internet and the Global Public Sphere,” in “Mediated Politics (2001)” a book edited by Entman and Bennent who say in their book that mediated politics explores the changing media environments in contemporary democracy: the Internet, the decline of network news and the daily newspaper. However, considering what Sparks says below about the internet and its possibility to be a global public space, emphasizing digital divide, it is not surprising that Entman did not include it in his model.
Sparks (2001) in his article in Mediated Politics, cites Rheingold, the new media, and in particular computer mediated communication (CMC) as embodied in the Internet, hold out the promise of overcoming many of the limitations of the existing mass media and questions if it is in principle possible to conceive of the Internet constituting the vehicle for a global public sphere., then the key question is the empirical one of discovering how far the ideal of every citizen having the power to communicate with every other citizen is being realized in which he emphasizes digital divide, a topic about which he wrote a recent article in 2014, “What is the “Digital Divide” and why is it Important?” When it comes to global dimension, according to Sparks it becomes impossible to consider the Internet as anything remotely resembling a public sphere. The exclusions are too great and too obvious to be ignored by serious social theorists and Dismissing the experience of the vast majority of the world’s population has little to recommend it from the point of view of democratic theory, he also emphasizes, in order for a genuinely global public sphere to evolve that apart from the cluster of technologies to be in place, there should be a common language of communication. Sparks states the limits preventing internet from being global public sphere
..despite their international nature, despite their riches of information, and despite the glorious abundance of debate, the global media, both old and new, fall a very long way short of the ideal notion of a public sphere. They have clear limits that exclude the voices and the interests of a majority of the world’s population. These exclusions operate every bit as completely and permanently as did the laws of Athenian citizenship. Unless and until these limits are overcome, there will be no sign of a global public sphere (89).
Contrary to Spark, Volkmer (2003) otlines “ the new ‘flow’ of political information that enables us to become informed about issues of global, regional as well as local relevance. The new media infrastructure allows an eyewitness view of events taking place in worldwide locations. These global processes, in which information and knowledge, political values, ethics, aesthetics and lifestyles are exchanged, are becoming increasingly autonomous from nationstate contexts and are beginning to shape a politically relevant ‘global’ public sphere.” Volkmer not only emphasizes internet but also the developments in broadcast by giving the example of TRT International the Turkish state-‐‑run broadcaster, being able to be accessed via cable and satellite by audiences within Germany parallel to German channels(ibid, 11). So if we seek to apply Entman’s model in Germany we would be mistaken by just taking into account German mainstream news organizations and therefore thinking Turkish community are informed by
just them whereas in Germany there are not just TRT International but also many different Turkish television channels addressing and affecting Turkish audience.
Volkmer in his book “The Global Public Sphere: Public Communication in the Age of Reflective
Interdependence” emphasizes the difference in what has been called a part of digital divide, internet users by region, e.g. the difference between Europe and Asia: “ Statistics show that not only has one-‐‑third of the world’s population access to the web but – and this is a change from about a decade ago – the majority of users are now located in Asia, followed by Europe, Latin America, North America and Africa (2014, 1). Bringing to the fore the convergence between digital, cyber communication and mass media, asserting that converging media spaces are embedded in content threads, which often resurface on social media platforms available almost anywhere in the world (a point of view that will help us understand social media effect) Volkmer points out that media organizations are searching for new ways to ‘connect’ directly to their users – wherever they live and Newspaper sites are becoming multi-‐‑media platforms; for example the Guardian in London has launched such a platform, Guardian Witness, encouraging readers across the world to upload information as well as images and to collaborate closely with Guardian journalists to identify and unfold stories(ibid, 2). What Volkmer describes us does not seem overlap Entman’s top-‐‑down model as people themselves can be part of the process of manufacturing information.
Spark is not the only one who judges the capacity of internet to be an undemocratic area. As another example, it can be understood from Morozov’s book (2011) that internet not only can be used by revolutionaries but also by and authoritarian governments. Morozov goes on claiming it is cyber-‐‑utopianists who fail to anticipate how authoritarian governments would respond to the Internet, not being able to predict how useful it would prove for propaganda purposes, how masterfully dictators would learn to use it for surveillance, and how sophisticated modern systems of Internet censorship would become. Instead most cyber-‐‑utopians stuck to a populist account of how technology empowers the people, who, oppressed by years of authoritarian rule, will inevitably rebel, mobilizing themselves through text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever new tool comes along next year.
By means of but all the literature on internet cited above we can see that there is a dissent between scholars. But there seems to be one thing for sure between them which is that all of them agree that no matter what internet is really important, that is, it is a tool to shape society and drive politics. So Entman’s choice to exclude it from his model seems controversial because as abovementioned it is tool for administrations, newspapers and public to express themselves, to be more specific we can claim that all agents, including public come to find the chance to form their own frames.
Although accepting that Web’s appeal has extended to marginalized individuals which have traditionally enjoyed little in the way of political influence or sympathetic coverage from the mainstream media, Marmura (2010), also adds that internet allows “extremist” groups in which the mainstream media is not interested either, such as racist organizations, religious “cults,” and militia groups, to those espousing such ideologies as deep ecology, radical feminism, and anarchism, to disseminate their messages and address a potentially vast audience with little fear of censure, a similar approach to Morozov’s.
Marmura (2010) questioning mainly “Do understandings of cultural hegemony and propaganda developed during the era of print and broadcast media provide a suitable basis for assessing the ideological character and authoritative status of information circulating online?” cites to give the positive take on this point, Urry’s observation that the internet has created conditions whereby states and corporations can no longer monopolize the information made
available to the public and Castells’ suggestion that both politicians and the dominant media must take account of the (frequently accurate) alternative sources of information put online by independent, politically motivated citizens and grassroots organizations if they hope to remain credible in the eyes of the public. While accepting arguments made by these scholars doubtless hold some merit, Marmura claims that:
It also glosses over a number of important realities. Most importantly, Castells ignores the fact that mainstream political and moral values are largely sustained and promoted through the workings of the mass media and not merely reflected within them. This is hardly a minor point, since the dominant, agenda-‐‑setting news media remain profit-‐‑driven enterprises positioned within larger networks of corporate and political power. That this reality has significant consequences in terms of how controversial issues and events are represented in the news, and hence understood by the public… Whether or not mainstream media commentary occasionally takes the form of partisanship at the more superficial level of party politics is, in this sense at least, a much less significant issue. As Castells (2004, 375) himself admits, the media in democratic countries are “as plural and competitive as the political system is. That is not much (ibid, 14).”
What Marmura claimed is not surprising, compared to Entman’s model, especially him citing Said’s argument that a tradition of imperialism continues to shape popular attitudes, influence art and literature, and guide Western perceptions of world events as depicted in the dominant mass media bears a resemblance to Entman’s concepts cultural congruence and schemas. He defends that argument by focusing on CNN.com in Arab/Israeli conflict which he shows that dominant ideological frames which have long characterized reporting on this issue, and which ultimately serve to legitimate American policies in the Middle East, continue to shape news products online(ibid,15)
Exampling “Kahane.org”, an internet site, with the duty of fighting to eliminate Israel’s “Arab cancer” and “radioislam.org” another one with the duty to defend Islam and the West from the “Jewish threat”, Marmura shows that individual including extremist ones can gain attention with their marginal opinion on internet. But this can also be seen the sign of people’s echo chambers” namely selective exposure to partisan sources.
Similarly, citing Singer saying “Compared to its traditional counterparts, however, the internet is different in content and structure, and is particularly amenable in its use to a high degree of selectivity” Mccabe (2010) gives some research as examples and claims that individuals who primarily access online newspapers for their news are very selective, choosing to expose themselves to information and stories which relate to personal interest and pre-‐‑existing views (3).
There is a vital phenomenon which has something to do with both internet, selective exposure and political communication (media policy nexus), namely diaspora. But before taking a look its relation with internet I opt for delving into its connection between mass media. Marmura(ibid, 2) giving example of Ellul’s book “Propaganda, the Formation of Men’s Attitudes” claims that he directs attention to the widespread use of community-‐‑based (i.e. “alternative”) media by minority groups within modern “technological societies,” arguing that such use serves to reinforce the ideological boundaries which already separate them:
Those who read the press of their group and listen to the radio of their group are constantly reinforced in their allegiance. They learn more and more that their group is right and that its actions are justified; thus their beliefs are strengthened. At the same time, such propaganda contains elements of criticism and refutation of other groups, which will never be read or heard by a member of another group. (Ellul, cited in Marmura)
Then, it would be argued that even without internet, diasporas or other communities seek to be exposed to their media regardless of its type.
On the effect of internet for diasporas Alonso and Oiarzabal (2010, 8) claims that small communities, isolated individuals, and marginalized groups can use it as a platform to easily raise their voices and increase their possibility of being heard. They go on saying:
The Internet as a post–geographically bounded global communication system has significantly provided the ability for dispersed groups such as diasporas to connect, maintain, create, and re-‐‑ create social ties and networks with both their homeland and their codispersed communities. The Internet offers the ability for diasporas to exchange instant factual information regardless of geographical distance and time zones. Again time and space shift meanings; there are no constraints on synchronicity or locality. That is, the Internet offers the possibility to sustain and re-‐‑create diasporas as globally imagined communities (9).
But what we should focus on when it comes to the internet is not just if the exposure is selective or not or the extensions of the mainstream media like CNN. com which might misleads us in our way to understand the new relation of the media policy but a new relation between the policy and media in which we can talk about the great possibility for anyone to be exposed to the different sources other than mainstream media, that is no matter what how one tends to expose oneself to any media, admitting internet is powerful actor to shape society and drive politics and a person’s ability to form their own frames which obliges us to judge the media concept differently than it was in the past.
Internet is an important factor which can change the way information flows between organizations and individuals. But it is not the only difference we should take into account. Something that is part of internet, that has something to do with it and that is more suitable to the abovementioned idea that a person is being able to form their own frames is Social media. In an environment, the president Obama having an Twitter account with approximately 59 million followers we can hardly claim that Entman’s top-‐‑down model would be valid. According to the model there must be hierarchy between administration, other elites, media, media frames and public. But when the president, at least his Twitter account director tweets something, ignoring the media’s mediated effect and anyone following the president can directly see what the statement is, it seems too hard to claim that the so-‐‑called hierarchy still exists.
Stating that Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira has described how people are taking to Twitter to learn the latest news and to acquire information, Gleason (2013) gives us Constructivist account (“the mind actively constructs relationships among objects or events, bits of information, etc ) on the learning process through Twitter:
Indeed, recent discoveries in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and sociology suggest that learning is an active process in which learners bring prior knowledge to bear on their current knowledge-‐‑building scenario (National Research Council, cited in Gleason). Constructivist researchers have proposed that learners are able to apply their knowledge most readily when multiple perspectives from real-‐‑world situations are presented (Spiro, Jehng, cited in Gleason). For example, the Occupy Wall Street hashtag #OWS offers users multiple perspectives about Occupy Wall Street. #OWS tweets may contain links to a number of different platforms: a photo-‐‑sharing site with user-‐‑ generated images that display opposition to the movement; a video-‐‑sharing site with videos that protest, explain video, or critique; a Google map that demonstrates the location of protests across the United States; or an essay that explores the historical reasons behind the Occupy movement.
We can find some significant points on Gleason’s approach to have something to do with Entman’s (2004, 7) schema concept, “the clusters or nodes of connected ideas and feelings stored
in memory.” For foreign policy, Entman suggests some schemas, defined for our purposes as networks of linked ideas and feelings that provide people their major templates for interpreting foreign policy, readily come to mind for most Americans in response to foreign events(148).” Entman(ibid, 7) says Kintsch suggests schemas are connected in knowledge network, continuing to say that a schema for September 11th might include the World Trade Center, airplane hijackers, Osama bin Laden, the New York fire department, and New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani (among others). So, as far as I can understand from the Entman’s approach about the relation between a schema and a mass media product (e.g an image of the destructed twin towers) thanks to Fiske and Taylor cited in Entman’s book (2004) I can state that schemas as cognitive structures get triggered by a mass media product. To Gleason, a hashtag for example #OWS can not only contain links to different sources but they also can help users get informed and learn. To be more specific, we can consider that a news aritcle in a newspaper with the headline “Violence in Wall Street Protests” of course with no hyperlink to let us see different perspectives which stimulates the already constituted “Wall Street Protests schema” by the news media. Then it is so likely that Entman’s model would make sense. But it would be hard to claim that someone exposed to information produced on Twitter by its users, experiencing a new psychological learning process and getting informed by its users, would have the same schema as she/he would have if she/he were to be exposed to just mass media.
Meraz and Papacharissi (2013) emphasizing Twitter’s role to let independent bloggers use it to promote each other’s or their own content, and journalists use it to supplement their own reporting, citing Ryan claim that their findings revealed a number of important implications for contemporary journalism, including the increased prominence of citizen and individual journalists, the peripheral positioning of mainstream media outlets, and the introduction of new or remediation of older news values in ways that permit and legitimize collaborating filtering and cocreation of news content(158).
They suggest that they found that influential, central figures wielded inordinate influence over a crowd that both promoted and spread elite influence in a contagious manner through cascading waves of retweets and mentions which has similarity with Entman’s model. But they also emphasize a difference between their approach and Entman’s model:
The battle for hashtag traction can be compared with the dynamic competition for frame ascendancy among elites (government officials and journalists) in the cascading activation model. However, unlike Entman’s model, hashtag competition in networked environments like Twitter involves both elites and nonelites, who symbiotically make popular a select group of hashtags (Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013, 144).
The adverb “symbiotically” is what that makes the difference between Entman’s model and their perspective. Based on Meraz and Papacharissi’s analysis we can repeat again the most important hypothesis of the current article which is that the relation between media and policy cannot be considered as top-‐‑down as it is in the model but this does not mean that governments cannot be effective through internet, especially considering recent examples of troll accounts driven by governments. Another hypothesis would be that not only White House and journalists frame event but also anyone connecting to internet, using a social media account does.
The model might fall short of the most for its limited interest in the foreign effect although it incorporates the possibly growing impacts of foreign leaders on U.S . news (2004, 13), putting them among other elites. Entman states emphasizing journalist motivations:
Although journalists have less ability to shape news frames than members of the administration or elite networks, they do have some independent power, arising from their capacity to ask questions
and to decide precisely which words and images to assemble and transmit. This and their motivations to fulfill the “watchdog” role often lead journalists to seek out and publish dissenting views from foreign leaders even when American elites fall silent (91).
But it is not enough to consider foreign leaders as the only foreign agent which can affect the news, the information flow or the discourse in a country. Long before the model was proposed in their article “Public relations efforts for the third world: Images in the news” Albritton and Manheim (1985) says that after Argentina, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Turkey hired U.S. public relations consultant, the positive coverage for each country in the New York Times improved. Infact in Entman’s model(2004, 11) public relations firms are categorized among other elites referring to Washington elites about which Entman tells that: “ To be part of this ‘Washington’ network it is no longer necessary (if it ever was) to actually live in D.C.” He emphasizes communication technology making it easy for everyone connect each other but also says that to win acceptance as a full-‐‑fledged member of the network, one does have to reside in Washington for a few years, working in the government or at a think tank, going to cocktails parties and conferences that are the currency of networking in the popular sense of the term.” Although he directs anyone interested in the influence of strategic public relations on media coverage of foreign nations and events to Manheim’s book “Strategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy: The Evolution of Influence,” he does not include the effect of these firms in his model.
Another thing which seems to be missing in the model is the effect of a Middle East-‐‑based news organization, Al Jazeera which is defined by el-‐‑Nawawy and Iskandar (2003) as “a network that is rattling governments and redefining modern journalism.” In their book published a year ago than Entman’s, they emphasize its importance by saying:
In the initial stage of the Afghanistan crisis, American audiences received a daily dose of Al-‐‑Jazeera. In covering this crisis, CNN and other news stations that normally might have broken the news themselves used Al-‐‑ Jazeera footage. In fact, many U.S. broadcasters simply showed Al-‐‑Jazeera broadcasts live during their own programming, together with translations (ibid, 22).
As it can be understood from their perspective Al Jazeera seems to be very effective power even for American audience. But the first use of the term by Henderson (2000) was not about the American audience but the risk for the Arab Middle East governments to lose their control of information. Seib is the first one to use the term in academy but as Power (n.d) states he uses the Network'ʹs name metaphorically to reference the broader consequences of new media on contemporary politics. Nawawy claims that just as the CNN effect was used as a paradigm for media influence in general, the “‘Al-‐‑Jazeera effect’ [concept reflects] much more than the Qatar-‐‑ based media company (2010, 7) citing Seib: “it encompasses the use of new media as tools in every aspect of global affairs, ranging from democratization to terrorism and including the concept of “virtual states.” It is obvious that what Seib (2008) proposes includes both mainstream and new media:
To varying degrees throughout the world, the connectivity of new media is superseding the traditional political connections that have brought identity and structure to global politics. This rewiring of the world’s neural system is proceeding at remarkable speed, and its reach keeps extending ever farther It changes the way states and citizens interact with each other and it gives the individual a chance at a new kind of autonomy, at least on an intellectual level, because of the greater availability of information(175).
Seib (2011) about the effect of the Arap Spring on Al Jazeera goes on stating that it is just not a classic network just providing its own reporting:
In addition to providing its own reporting, throughout the Arab Spring Al Jazeera made a point of aggregating social media content, repurposing YouTube video, reproducing Facebook material, and delivering Twitter messages to its TV viewers. Because many countries across the Arab world still have limited internet access – but boast very high percentages of satellite TV viewers – Al Jazeera bridged a vital communications gap.
What Seib has suggested helps us easily understand that we don’t live in the old world which the America based news organizations driven by American government (if it ever was) can manipulate their audience from inside or outside of the America. There are too much parameter one of which is related to a concept, the journalistic motivation in Entman’s model. According to Vice President Corporate Communications of New York Times E. M. Murphy (personal communication, May, 07. 2015) more than 30% of their digital audience is outside of the U.S. Considering Entman’s concept, journalistic motivation; advancing career interest, journalist seeking professional success (2004, 13) and news organizations and personnel are driven by economic pressure and incentives; professional customs, norms and principles; and normative values, I can claim these about New York Times:
1: New York Times, as an economic organization and personnel of it do have to try to be objective to persuade its foreign digital subscribers to be loyal to it not just American public which originally creates Entman’s cultural congruence so it is not so surprising in a global environment to suggest that even cultural congruence has evolved.
2: In social media age its coverage about any news can be compared by other news organizations like Al Jazeera and be challenged by thousands so it has to try to follow professional customs, norms and principles.
We have been witnessing massive transformations some of which have already been predicted by scholars long before the possible effects of internet or social media such as communication scholar Marshall Mcluhan and international relations scholar Burton (1972) whose “cobweb” concept emphasizes the interaction between actors in a complex international area, criticized for not being able to explain which actors are the most powerful and influential. Their concepts were too controversial considering the time they were proposed but now maybe the right time to think that there is a really complex global sphere full of different actors (other strong or even peripheral countries) who can get the hang of using modern tools such as internet and social media, and old but developed tools such as mass media and propaganda together with so-‐‑ called more stronger and aware global public thanks to internet. What was written above might be exaggerated, as the author of it I cannot state that it is the reality considering that I suggest the new system is too complex, then it is understandable that it cannot be explained thoroughly for the time being. Not matter how exaggerated what was written, I and Entman at least are agreed on the evolving system, as Entman (2003b) states: “the media are less dependably deferential as they operate in the new, still evolving international system, a system that’s far more complicated and much more unpredictable than was true during the Cold War.” Entman, criticizing hegemonic models showed us that the media policy relation is not supposed to be so simple but on the contrary he proved that it can be pretty complex.
Having introduced his model I tried to show “What has changed since the model was proposed” similarly what he has done with Cold War paradigm. As can be seen Entman did not prefer to attach a big importance to internet which was effective even the model was proposed. As Holmes proposed with a medium letting Two-‐‑way communication and being decentered (2005) I would not expect the media policy relation to be the same as it was in the past. I should emphasize that it gives anyone the opportunity to be exposed to various sources e.g foreign
news organization’s frames in the form of internet sites which seemed but all impossible in the past, especially considering how hard it is to reach a foreign newspaper or a foreign television station both of which are also more available through the internet. Having said that, I should admit that of course internet has also the ability for individuals to be more selective in their news choices. One of the most important thing about internet, especially social media is its ability for especially an individual to form their frames. Regardless of its being abused by governments or other elites we should admit that this feature is something we have never encountered in global communication. Model also seems to be lacking for its limited interest in the foreign effect which especially through public relations firm seems to be affecting information flow and news organizations frames. There are some vital parameters missing the model which are the internet and social media effect, Al Jazeera effect and journalistic motivations, %30 percent of New York Times’ digital subscription is foreign subscribers. So I can state that in this evolving, too complex global sphere news organizations like New York Times which I claim that turns out to be not only informant but also one of actors especially in important foreign social protests like Gezi Park. Abovementioned parameters, especially journalistic motivations affected by counterframes coming from social media and Al Jazeera type news organizations can constitute a massive element of oppression even bigger than government’s or can change the cultural congruence and the schemas for a news organization. As Entman said counterframes are so important for democracy so it can be considered as vital for individuals to get exposed to other perspective through abovementioned new, still evolving and complex environment.
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