News Frames, Political Cynicism, and Media Cynicism

The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Impact Factor: 1.01). 07/1996; 546(1):71-84. DOI: 10.1177/0002716296546001007

ABSTRACT Public confidence in Congress, the government, and social institutions has reached new lows. Healthy skepticism may have given way to corrosive cynicism. Some media watchers and critics blame the media for their preoccupation with the game and strategy of politics rather than social problems and their solution. Others deny that changes in news have affected the quality of democracy or the depth of political alienation. Studies that we have conducted over the past four years show that subtle changes in the way news stories are framed can affect consumers' responses, activating their cynicism when strategic or conflict-oriented frames are used. The studies directly implicate media framing of political news in activating, if not creating, cynicism about campaigns, policy, and governance and imply that cynicism about the news media may be an indirect consequence.

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