A framing analysis of German news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve using the example of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

Term Paper, 2016

30 Pages, Grade: 1,0




List of figures


2 Framing Theory
2.1 Definitions of terms
2.2 Distinguishing frames
2.3 Framing effects

3 Framing of news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve
3.1 Framing of the Süddeutsche Zeitung
3.2 Framing of the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
3.3 Development and comparison of framings

4 Final analysis of the analysis results and outlook


List of figures

Figure 1: Framing effects. On the influence of political reporting on the attitudes of recipients: Example of frame elements and their implied basic attitude to the topic. P. 137.


The frames associated with word senses, be they noun, verb or whatever, are surely centers for the concentrated representation of vital knowledge about how different things are related, how they are used, and how they transform one another.

– Marvin Minsky (1927-2016)

Since when we encounter complex, political issues, we often have no choice but to "bring certain information to the fore and leave others out"1, the interest in political reporting and its effect on recipients has gradually increased in recent years2. More and more studies on media coverage are occurring.3 After all, access to the real world for the addressees is exclusively through these media reports4, which has already provided the recipient with a framing 5 of complex topics6. In studying these framings, the framing perspective represents a young and modern methodology7, which, because of its broad applicability, "both [...] in communication science as a whole, but also specifically in media and impact research"8 is becoming more and more popular. This is usually reflected in the fact that the framing concept also appears more and more often in introductory works of media studies.9 With the help of framing theory, the mass media communication process can be investigated at the level of public relations, journalism, media content and the audience.10 In this term paper, the focus will be primarily on the level of media content and secondarily on the level of the audience.

The aim of the present scientific work is therefore to answer the following key question: How can the frames of the German news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve be assessed using the example of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, how do the frames develop in the respective medium, do the media frames of the daily newspapers differ from each other and what effects do they achieve at the recipient level? Since frames have a great methodological potential, but are also very controversial, I will first define the framing tradition and the frame concept in the theoretical part of this module thesis. For this I will mainly use selected literature by Minsky, Konerding, Entman and Scheufele. Afterwards, I will show different types of frames and address their possible effects at the recipient level. With the help of this theoretical basis, I can then use the frame concept as an analytical approach. Three copies of each of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung are used as investigative instruments. In a final step, I will finally make the final consideration of the analysis results including outlook.

2 Framing Theory

In the first part of this chapter, I will first outline the current state of research as a theoretical basis, define the framing concept and explain the central features. In a second step, I will make a distinction between different frames. Finally, in the last part of the theory, I will discuss the effects of framings. With the help of the most important terms, I can subsequently examine the framing of news reporting on the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve in the analytical part of this scientific work. In order to pursue the research question, such a scientific foundation for framing theory is necessary.

2.1 Definitions of terms

In order to be able to explain the framing concept in its depth, a short description of the framing tradition is first required. Frames, to German have been translated for some time now. frame used to describe patterns of interpretation.11 Many different knowledge traditions refer to the frame concept. These include cognitive science according to Minsky, linguistics according to Fillmore, Konerding and Ziem as well as communication science according to Entman, Scheufele, Dahinden and Matthes. In cognitive science as well as in linguistics, the focus is primarily on the structure of the frame. In communication science, on the other hand, researchers focus on the process of activating these frame structures. A major problem of framing theory is the lack of definitional clarity.12 Nevertheless, "there is a certain tendency [in the field of framing research] towards the theoretical unification of the field of research"13, so that all approaches have fundamental similarities. Since all these different areas have shaped the framing concept of today, the theory of each of these traditions will be briefly presented.

All current views on framing theory go to the basic assumptions of artificial intelligence research from the influential essay A Framework for Representing Knowledge from Minsky from 1975. He compared the skill of humans to the skill of computers and found that humans are capable of something for which computers must first be programmed: You can create knowledge structures, so-called "organized knowledge structures"14 or "chunks of knowledge"15 activate. The frame model thus refers to the human ability to accept and process only a fraction of the information flowing into it in the sense of reduction. In order to determine information, humans only use a few aspects, while others are disregarded as insignificant.16 Above all, human experience plays an important role: "[T]he meaning of many word relies on speakers' experience with the scenarios and social institutions they presuppose."17 Finding oneself in the world, communicating and also understanding the text is a matter of course for us, but it requires a great deal of competence and a broad knowledge, which the actor acquires in the course of his life.18 Only with the help of this knowledge is it possible for us humans to understand the content of the communication partner or text.19 Only when man "in addition to the facts explicitly verbalized and asserted in the text resorts to further knowledge of those reference objects that are determined by the lexemes occurring in the text"20, the text becomes comprehensible. In other words, lexemes or words evoke frames in people. Therefore, human communication is also elliptical at its core. Since people form certain units of knowledge through their socialization, it is not necessary to explain everything in detail – the human being associates the majority himself. Minsky explains this frame concept using the following example: "Jane was invited to Jack's Birthday Party. She wondered if he would like a kite."21 The first sentence activates here by the keywords Birthday Party an overarching thematic frame of a characteristic birthday party. This frame includes the assumption that it is customary to bring a gift to a birthday party and this gift should also please the birthday child in the best possible way. This knowledge was provided to the reader by the activated frame and "[o]although the [second] sentence is grammatically ambiguous"22, the reader now has no problems associated it with the first sentence.23 For the addressee, it is only logical that afterwards the speech comes to the gift and "that [sic!] Jane [is] thinking about a suitable birthday present for Jack to bring him to the celebration"24. So it turns out that it takes much more than just words to understand a text in a situation-appropriate way. A successful understanding of the text requires a considerable knowledge of the reference objects mentioned in the text and thus also a knowledge of the world, which is structured in the so-called frames.25 Stereotypical knowledge is thus stored in frames and cognitively retrievable and we repeatedly fall back on this knowledge organized in frames in order to be able to orient ourselves in the world.26 Now these frames consist of three structural elements and the set of their relationship to each other.27:

(1) Slots, i.e. conceptual gaps that can be identified in the form of meaningful questions to be asked.
(2) Fillers are filling elements of these slots that correspond to the amount of information units contained in the given database [...]. [They provide the answers to the above questions.]
(3) Default values are prerequisites and prototypically expected filling elements [answers] of the slots. Although they do not occur in the given database, they are relevant to understanding.28

In this context, it is important to note that default values are usually only "part of the collectively shared knowledge of a language community at a certain time"29. These triple-structured frames also contain procedural knowledge information such as the course of a birthday party, as well as timeless knowledge information such as the relevant knowledge about candles.30 It should be noted here that there are "no isolated frames, as it were, existing for themselves, but only a frame network"31 that is difficult and multidimensionally structured.32 For example, the frame for the birthday party contains frames about the participants, the process, etc. These frames, in turn, differ in their degree of abstraction.33 If the degree of abstraction of an information content in a frame is low, the slots of a frame must be filled with concrete data (fillers) and cannot be assumed as stereotypical knowledge. If, on the other hand, the unit of information is of a more abstract nature, the slot can be filled with a default value.34 "That [...] Drinks and games are among the typical props of a children's birthday party can be assumed [for example], but not [...] that the trip to Jerusalem is played and not pot beating."35 Therefore, the lexical concept of drinks, games and gifts is also not as abstract as the complex concept of birthday parties.36 So is Minsky's idea, "that [sic!] Knowledge should be present in human memory in the form of complex structured wholes"37 the starting point of the entire frame concept.

Subsequently, Fillmore continued these approaches in linguistics. Within frame semantics, he found that words can not only evoke frames, but also indicate a certain perspective on the overall frame. He explained this using the famous example of the Commercial Transaction Frames. This situation of commercial transaction is characterized by the use of a Buyer A Seller and by money and commodity indicated as significant frame factors. Through different verbs such as buy, sell and cost a change of perspective to the overall frame of the purchase action event may occur. Thus, one aspect is emphasized in each case, while another moves into the background. At the verb sell move, for example, salesman and goods in the center, while buyer and money are rather secondary.

But how are these cognitive or linguistic frames determined? In order to fathom frames, a number of questions, the so-called slots, have to be processed such as Who celebrates a birthday? How many birthdays does he or she celebrate? What does he or she wish for his or her birthday? 38 Both Konerding and Ziem list these questions in their scientific work. According to Ziem, we identify the spaces or slots of a frame through such a meaningful questionnaire. "[And] [s]ofern the given database [for example, an invitation] for such questions does not offer answers [or fillers], the question slots are filled with preliminary default values, i.e. with answers that are typically to be expected[.]"39 In order to create an almost universal questionnaire for the determination of such frames, Konerding derived matrix frames from a hyperonym type reduction. On the basis of a lexicon, he traced all nouns back to their hyperonyms. According to the Duden, hyperonyms represent superordinate terms or generic terms, such as the "animal vis-à-vis [the] bird [or] dog"40. Twelve matrix frames such as Event, Action and State/Property whose questions (slots) are inherited on subordinate frames, i.e. on their hyponymes.41 For example, the birthday party can be based on the hyperonym or the matrix frame event and "thus has all the conceptual spaces [or slots] of this matrix frame"42. In this way, parent frames determine their sub-frames. With the help of this method, i.e. the inheritance of questions (slots) of matrix frames on their sub-frames, the stereotypical knowledge of people can be developed on a cognitive science and linguistic level.43 In the context of frame semantics, frames are also regarded as formats of representation for cognitive structures on the conceptual level, as in cognitive science. Now that I have examined these formal-stylistic frame definitions from cognitive science and linguistics to clarify the origin of frame theory, I would now like to discuss the communication science or content-related frame theories. Initially, the structure or presentation form of a frame was in the foreground and from now on the focus will be on the content-related frames.44

For this term paper, the communication science framing theory is of utmost importance. However, the frame theories of cognitive science and linguistics can be associated with the application-oriented, communication science framing approach to the extent that all three disciplines consider the elements of the frame structures and ascribe great importance to the interpretation-related or perspective process. Entman's definition of frames is as follows: "[S]electing and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and/or solution[.]" 45 In this context, frames are more of a content-related nature and frame topics or events. In communication science, the framing approach the ambition to "complete the entire communication process – from strategic communicators to citizens"46, to describe. However, since there are some differences regarding the communication science framing theory, I will discuss the distinction of frames in more detail in the next chapter.

So it turns out that the frame term is used very differently. In addition, the term frame is often used synonymously with terms such as the schema, although schemas according to Entman "clusters or nodes of connected ideas and feelings stored in memory"47 are. With the help of the knowledge about the tradition of the frame concept, I can now make a distinction between different content or communication science frames.48

2.2 Distinguishing frames

With regard to the central communication science framing concept in this module thesis, a distinction can be made between individual and media frames: "For the purposes of analysis, framing research may be characterized as investigating either media frames or individual frames."49 Media frames embody the focus of this scientific work – they are created by journalists who, through their norms and activities, discuss topics and events. frame 50 and take place at the level of reporting51. Setting Media Frames "textual patterns of interpretation [...], which highlight certain aspects of social issues and link them consistently"52. In this regard, Matthes has formulated three principles that represent the properties of the content-related media frames: The principle of selection, consistency and ambivalence. The selection principle states that frames only highlight certain aspects (salience) and leave others out (selection). "This assigns a higher importance to individual aspects than to others."53 According to the consistency principle, frames also link the selected aspects consistently with each other. The principle of ambivalence, on the other hand, indicates that many different aspects coexist in public debates, which are often in conflict with each other.54 This principle makes it clear why frames appear in public at all:


1 Matthes, Jörg: Framing. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2014, S. 12.

2 Vgl. Kühne, Rinaldo: Emotionale Framing-Effekte auf Einstellungen. Eine theoretische Modellierung und empirische Überprüfung der Wirkungsmechanismen. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2015, S. 342.

3 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

4 cf. Matthes, Jörg: Framing-Effekte. Zum Einfluss der Politikberichterstattung auf die Einstellungen der Rezipienten. München: Reinhard Fischer 2007, S. 16.

5 Unless otherwise marked, italicization is set here and below to identify highlights and work titles.

6 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

7 cf. Bonfadelli, Heinz/Friemel, Thomas M.: Medienwirkungsforschung. Konstanz & München: UVK 2011, S. 196.

8 Ibid., p. 56

9 cf. Dahinden, Urs: Framing. Eine integrative Theorie der Massenkommunikation. Konstanz: UVK 2006, S. 13.

10 Cf. ibid.

11 cf. Dahinden 2006, p. 14.

12 cf. Matthes 2007, p. 6.

13 Stocké, Volker: Framing und Rationalität: die Bedeutung der Informationsdarstellung für das Entscheidungsverhalten. München: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 2002, S. 25.

14 Bonfadelli/Friemel 2011, p. 197; Emphasis in the original.

15 Konerding, Klaus-Peter: Frames und lexikalisches Bedeutungswissen. Untersuchungen zur linguistischen Grundlegung einer Frametheorie und zu ihrer Anwendung in der Lexikographie. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer 1993, S. 6.

16 cf. Bonfadelli/Friemel 2011, p. 197.

17 Coulson, Seana: Semantic Leaps. Frame-Shifting and Conceptual Blending in Meaning Construction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001, p. 17.

18 cf. Konerding 1993, p. 12.

19 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Bonfadelli/Friemel 2011, p. 198.

23 cf. Konerding 1993, p. 16.

24 Ibid.

25 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

26 cf. Ziem, Alexander: Frame-Semantik und Diskursanalyse. Zur Verwandtschaft zweier Wissensanalysen. Konstanz & München: UVK 2011, S. 3

27 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid., p. 56

30 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

31 Ibid., p. 56

32 cf. Dahinden 2006, p. 71.

33 cf. Ziem 2001, p. 3.

34 Cf. ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 (Cf., ibid., p.77)

37 Konerding 1993, p. 1.

38 cf. Ziem 2011, p. 3.

39 Ibid.

40 DUDEN online: Hyperonym, das. http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Hyperonym. (Datum des Zugriffs: 08.09.2016).

41 cf. Konerding 1993, p. 181 ff.

42 Ziem 2011, p. 3.

43 cf. Konerding 1993, p. 216.

44 cf. Matthes 2007, p. 57.

45 Entman, Robert M.: Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Chicago & London: The University Chicago Press 2004, p. 5; Emphasis in the original.

46 Matthes 2007, p. 21.

47 Entman 2004, p. 6 f.

48 cf. Bonfadelli/Friemel 2011, p. 198.

49 Johnson-Cartee, Karen S.: News Narratives and News Framing: Constructing Political Reality. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield 2005, p. 24.

50 cf. Johnston, Hank/Noakes, John A.: "Frames of Protest: A Road Map to a Perspective." In: Johnston, Hank/Noakes, John A. (eds.): Frames of Protest: Social Movements and the Framing Perspective. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield 2005, p. 19.

51 cf. Scheufele, Bertram: Frames – Framing – Framing-Effekte. Theoretische und methodische Grundlegung des Framing-Ansatzes sowie empirische Befunde zur Nachrichtenproduktion. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag 2003, S. 48.

52 Kühne 2015, p. 339.

53 Matthes 2007, p. 148.

54 Cf. ibid.

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A framing analysis of German news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve using the example of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
University of Duisburg-Essen
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german, cologne, year, süddeutsche, zeitung, westdeutsche, allgemeine
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Sarah Höchst (Author), 2016, A framing analysis of German news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve using the example of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1243798


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Title: A framing analysis of German news coverage of the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve using the example of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

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