Parsing Framing Processes: The Interplay Between Online Public Opinion and Media Coverage

, and . Journal of Communication 57 (1): 79--98 (2007)


To what extent do frame-building and frame-setting processes manifest themselves in the interplay between online public discourse and traditional (offline) media discourse? Employing a content analysis of 206 online posts and 114 news reports regarding a sociopolitical incident in China, we test the associations and causal relationships between the salience of opinion frames and media frames. Online public opinion plays an important role in transforming the original local event into a nationally prominent issue. It also exerts a significant frame-building impact on subsequent media reports but only in the early stage of coverage. However, the media are not passive in this two-way process and adapt online frames as necessary. Although media coverage is the primary source of information for netizens, it does not set frames for online discourse. Noticeably, significant associations between concurrent opinion frames and media frames lend strong support to frame-interacting effects. Discussion focuses on governmental influences in the frame-building process and the potential of netizen autonomy to attenuate frame-setting effects.

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