Framing the Economic Crisis in Europe: A Comparative analysis of Austrian, British, French, German Greek and Spanish opinion leading newspapers.

TitleFraming the Economic Crisis in Europe: A Comparative analysis of Austrian, British, French, German Greek and Spanish opinion leading newspapers.
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Maurer, P., D. Tsapogas, A. Koukou, L. Winter, J. R. Rodriguez-Amat, and K. Sarikakis
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Communication University of Vienna Wahringer Strasse 29 A 1190 Vienna
Section or WGMediated Communication, Public Opinion and Society Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeMCPT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)MCPT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomCG12
Session TitleMedia and Social and Economic Change
Submission ID7112
Abstract

The EU is currently facing the worst economic crisis in its history. This crisis has spurred ongoing public, mediated debates about the causes of the crisis, the effectiveness and legitimacy of ‘austerity’ measures as a means of solving it, and the challenges to democracy and European integration as a result of them. Contested national and supranational politics and unpopular decisions, as well as the rapid rise of poverty and political polarisation are creating an explosive mix of social instability. We wanted to explore how the media react to a phenomenal course of events that include serious dilemmas and systemic failures.. We took one particular period as our case study, that of the Greek elections of June 2012 as these were the first possibility for people to vote on the imposed course of action. At the same time, the French elections also took place. Moreover, that was the same period during which Spain went into lengths trying not to frame its request for financial support as a ‘bail-out’. Election coverage does not necessarily follow the same patterns across national presses. Media coverage is often tied to discourses of national political and economic elites representing different conflict of interests. Nevertheless, national elites as well as supranational and international politics is involved in the current governance of the crisis in Europe and it is reasonable to expect that discourses will be recycled and repeated to a great extent, depending on the cultural and sociopolitical mileu. Media frames shape the ways in which issues are presented  and define problems, provide emphases and offer interpretations. A frame is a "central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events" (Gamson & Modigliani 1987: 143). The diverging economic and political interests of each country are assumed to lead to country specific framing of the economic crisis. Drawing upon this context and theoretical background, our main questions are: How is crisis being discussed and what are the frames embedded in the press? What are the differences in framing the European financial crisis across national daily newspapers? Is the crisis being presented as an issue of European integration or of national sovereignty? Is it being presented as an economic issue or instead as a political or even a moral one? Our sample of articles comes from opinion leading newspapers from Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Spain of the highest circulation and representing the broadest political spectrum. The study concerns four weeks in the summer of 2012 (two weeks before and two after the elections on June 17, 2012). Our analysis verified the media relation to elites and revealed struggles for hegemonic discourse at European and national levels. It also shows strong moral framing on the basis of individual wrongdoings, polarization of old stereotypes and the resurrection of banal nationalism.

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