Review of the book 'Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media'
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[Excerpt] Observers of the U.S. media have grown accustomed to the perennial debate over whether the news leans left or right. Yet there is scant disagreement that discussion of ordinary work issues is absent in public discourse; that workers and their unions are practically invisible even in economic news; and that most news coverage about unions concerns strikes, corrupt leaders, or, more recently, splits in labor’s ranks. Christopher Martin’s highly readable book, Framed: Labor and the Corporate Media, deepens that observation through the application of media framing theory, originally developed by political media scholar Doris Graber in the 1970s. Quoting Todd Gitlin, Martin defines media frames as “persistent patterns of cognition, interpretation and presentation, of selection, emphasis and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize discourse, whether verbal or visual.” Embattled union members encounter framing when every airline walkout becomes a media narrative of stranded travelers versus callous strikers, and every press story employment focuses on stock statistics.
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labor movement; media; media framing theory; unions
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