Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 13, 2021

New perspective? Comparing frame occurrence in online and traditional news media reporting on Europe’s “Migration Crisis”

Christian S. Czymara ORCID logo and Marijn van Klingeren
From the journal Communications

Abstract

News media have transformed over the last decades, there being increasing numbers of online news suppliers and an increase in online news consumption. We examine how reporting on immigration differs between popular German online and print media over three crucial years of the so-called immigration crisis from 2015 to 2017. This study extends knowledge on the framing of the crisis by examining a period covering the start, peak, and time after the intake of refugees. Moreover, we establish whether online and print reporting differs in terms of both frame occurrence and variability. The period of the crisis provided an ideal test to see whether the focus of media reporting differed between online and print sources. Employing a most- similar- cases design based on (autonomous) online and print versions of three major German news outlets, we extract the dominant frames in almost 18,500 articles using algorithm-based topic modelling. While results indicate that many frames are more visible in either online or print media, these differences often do not follow theoretical expectations. Furthermore, online media are dominated by particular frames and, hence, show less diversity than print media. However, important key events happening during our period of investigation do not affect overall diversity of frames.

Acknowledgements

We presented an earlier version of the paper at the Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap 2019. We thank the discussants there as well as Damian Trilling and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and Theodora Benesch for proofreading. Special thanks to Johannes Gruber for his assistance with data pre-processing.

References

Allport, G. W. (1979). The nature of prejudice. 25th anniv. New York: Basic Books.Search in Google Scholar

Bakker, T. P. (2013). Citizens as political participants: The myth of the active online audience? PhD thesis, Amsterdam School of Communication Research.Search in Google Scholar

BBC. (2016). Migrant crisis: EU-Turkey deal comes into effect. Retrieved 12 February 2019 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35854413.Search in Google Scholar

Bennett, S., Ter Wal, J., Lipiński, A., Fabiszak, M., & Krzyżanowski, M. (2013). The representation of third-country nationals in European news discourse: Journalistic perceptions and practices. Journalism Practice, 7(3), 248–265.10.1080/17512786.2012.740239Search in Google Scholar

Benoit, K., Watanabe, K., Wang, H., Nulty, P., Obeng, A., Müller, S., & Matsuo, A. (2018). quanteda: An R package for the quantitative analysis of textual data. Journal of Open Source Software, 3(30), 774.10.21105/joss.00774Search in Google Scholar

Boomgaarden, H. G., & Vliegenthart, R. (2007). Explaining the rise of anti-immigrant parties: The role of news media content. Electoral Studies, 26(2), 404–417.10.1016/j.electstud.2006.10.018Search in Google Scholar

Boumans, J. W., & Trilling, D. (2016). Taking stock of the toolkit: An overview of relevant automated content analysis approaches and techniques for digital journalism scholars. Digital Journalism, 4(1), 8–23.10.1080/21670811.2015.1096598Search in Google Scholar

Boumans, J., Trilling, D., Vliegenthart, R., & Boomgaarden, H. (2018). The agency makes the (online) news world go round: The impact of news agency content on print and online news. International Journal of Communication, 12, 1768–1789.Search in Google Scholar

Buhl F., Günther, E., & Quandt, T. (2016). Observing the dynamics of the online news ecosystem. Journalism Studies, 19(1), 79–104.10.1080/1461670X.2016.1168711Search in Google Scholar

Cover, R. (2006). Audience inter/active: Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history. New Media and Society, 8(1): 139–158.10.1177/1461444806059922Search in Google Scholar

Czymara, C. S. (2019). Propagated preferences? Political elite discourses and Europeans’ openness toward Muslim immigrants. International Migration Review, 54(4), 1212–1237.10.1177/0197918319890270Search in Google Scholar

Czymara, C. S. (2020). Attitudes toward refugees in contemporary Europe: A longitudinal perspective on cross-national differences. Social Forces. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soaa05510.1093/sf/soaa055Search in Google Scholar

Czymara, C. S., & Dochow, S. (2018). Mass media and concerns about immigration in Germany in the 21st century: Individual-level evidence over 15 years. European Sociological Review, 34(4), 381–401.10.1093/esr/jcy019Search in Google Scholar

Czymara, C. S., & Schmidt-Catran, A. W. (2017). Refugees unwelcome? Changes in the public acceptance of immigrants and refugees in Germany in the course of Europe’s ‘immigration crisis’. European Sociological Review, 33(6), 735–751.10.1093/esr/jcx071Search in Google Scholar

Davis, H., & McLeod, S. L. (2003). Why humans value sensational news. An evolutionary perspective. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 208–216.10.1016/S1090-5138(03)00012-6Search in Google Scholar

De Vreese, C., & Boomgaarden, H. (2003). Valenced news frames and public support for the EU. Communications, 28(4), 361–381.10.1515/comm.2003.024Search in Google Scholar

Dimitrova, D.V., & Strömbäck, J. (2009). Look who’s talking: Use of sources in newspaper coverage in Sweden and the United States. Journalism Practice, 3(1), 75–91.10.1080/17512780802560773Search in Google Scholar

Esser, F., & Matthes, J. (2013). Mediatization effects on political news, political actors, political decisions, and political audiences. In H. Kriesi, D. Bochsler, J. Matthes, S. Lavenex, M. Bühlmann, & F. Esser, Democracy in the age of globalization and mediatization (pp. 177–201). London: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1057/9781137299871_8Search in Google Scholar

Eurostat (2016). Record number of over 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2015.Search in Google Scholar

Fischer-Preßler, D., Schwemmer, C., & Fischbach, K. (2019). collective sense-making in times of crisis: Connecting terror management theory with twitter user reactions to the Berlin terrorist attack. Computers in Human Behavior, 100, 138–151.10.1016/j.chb.2019.05.012Search in Google Scholar

Frey, A. (2020). ‘Cologne Changed Everything’—The Effect of Threatening Events on the Frequency and Distribution of Intergroup Conflict in Germany. European Sociological Review, 36(5), 684–699.10.1093/esr/jcaa007Search in Google Scholar

Goodman, S., & Speer, S. A. (2007). Category use in the construction of asylum seekers. Critical Discourse Studies, 4(2), 165–185.10.1080/17405900701464832Search in Google Scholar

Grabe, M. E., Zhou, S., & Barnett, B. (2001). Explicating sensationalism in television news: Content and the bells and whistles of form. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 45(4), 635–655.10.1207/s15506878jobem4504_6Search in Google Scholar

Greer, J. D., & Mensing, D. (2006). The evolution of online newspapers: A longitudinal content analysis. In Li Xigen Internet Newspapers – The making of a mainstream medium. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 13–32.Search in Google Scholar

Greussing, E., & Boomgaarden, H. G. (2017). Shifting the refugee narrative? An automated frame analysis of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(11), 1749–1774.10.1080/1369183X.2017.1282813Search in Google Scholar

Grimmer, J., & Stewart, B. M. (2013). Text as data: The promise and pitfalls of automatic content analysis methods for political texts. Political Analysis, 21(3), 267–297.10.1093/pan/mps028Search in Google Scholar

Gruber, J. (2019). LexisNexis tools. An R package for working with newspaper data from ‘LexisNexis’.Search in Google Scholar

Heidenreich, T., Lind, F., Eberl J.-M., & Boomgaarden, H. G. (2019). Media framing dynamics of the ‘European refugee crisis’: A comparative topic modelling approach. Journal of Refugee Studies, 32(special issue), i172-i182.10.1093/jrs/fez025Search in Google Scholar

Heizmann, B., & Ziller, C. (2020). Who is willing to share the burden? Attitudes towards the allocation of asylum seekers in comparative perspective. Social Forces, 98(2), 1026–1051.10.1093/sf/soz030Search in Google Scholar

Holmes, S. M., & Castañeda, H. (2016). Representing the “European refugee crisis” in Germany and Beyond: Deservingness and difference, life and death. American Ethnologist, 43(1), 12–24.10.1111/amet.12259Search in Google Scholar

Horsti, K. (2007). Asylum seekers in the news: Frames of illegality and control. Observatorio (OBS) Journal, 1, 145–161.Search in Google Scholar

Jäckle, S., & König, P. D. (2017). The dark side of the German ‘welcome culture’: Investigating the causes behind attacks on refugees in 2015. West European Politics, 40(2), 223–251.10.1080/01402382.2016.1215614Search in Google Scholar

Jacobi, C., Kleinen-von Königslöw, K., & Ruigrok, N. (2016). Political news in online and print newspapers: Are online editions better by electoral democratic standards? Digital Journalism, 4(6), 723–742.10.1080/21670811.2015.1087810Search in Google Scholar

Jacobs, L., Meeusen, C., & D’Haenens, L. (2018). Nieuwsberichtgeving over immigratie en de houding tegenover immigratie: Een vergelijking tussen nieuws op de openbare en commerciële zender [News media on immigration and immigration attitudes. A comparison between public and commercial broadcasters]. Mens en Maatschappij, 93(2), 170–172.Search in Google Scholar

Karlsson, M., & Strömbäck, J. (2010). Freezing the flow of online news: Exploring approaches to the study of the liquidity of online news. Journalism Studies, 11(1), 2–19.10.1080/14616700903119784Search in Google Scholar

Kluknavská, A., Bernhard, J., & Boomgaarden, H G. (2019). Claiming the crisis: Mediated public debates about the refugee crisis in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Journal of Refugee Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fez02210.1093/jrs/fez022Search in Google Scholar

Kovář, J., (2019). A security threat or an economic consequence? An analysis of the news framing of the European Union’s refugee crisis. International Communication Gazette, 82(6), 564–587.10.1177/1748048519832778Search in Google Scholar

Kroon, A. C., Trilling, D., Van Selm, M., & Vliegenthart, R. (2019). Biased media? How news content influences age discrimination claims. European Journal of Ageing, 16(1), 109–119.10.1007/s10433-018-0465-4Search in Google Scholar

Ksiazek, T. B., Peer, L., & Lessard, K. (2016). User engagement with online news: Conceptualizing interactivity and exploring the relationship between online news videos and user comments. New Media and Society, 18(3), 502–520.10.1177/1461444814545073Search in Google Scholar

Lawlor, A. (2015). Local and national accounts of immigration framing in a cross-national perspective. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(6), 918–941.10.1080/1369183X.2014.1001625Search in Google Scholar

Lee, A. M., & Chyi, H. I. (2015). The rise of online news aggregators: Consumption and competition. International Journal on Media Management, 17(1), 3–24.10.1080/14241277.2014.997383Search in Google Scholar

Lee, A. M., Lewis, S. C., & Powers, M. (2014). Audience clicks and news placement: A study of time-lagged influence in online journalism. Communication Research, 41(4), 505–530.10.1177/0093650212467031Search in Google Scholar

Lind, F., & Meltzer, C. E. (2020). Now you see me, now you don’t: Applying automated content analysis to track migrant women’s salience in German news. Feminist Media Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1713840.10.1080/14680777.2020.1713840Search in Google Scholar

Madra, Y. M., & Adaman, F. (2014). Neoliberal reason and its forms: De‐politicisation through economisation. Antipode, 46(3), 691–716.10.1111/anti.12065Search in Google Scholar

Marshall, P. D., & Burnett, R. (2003). Web theory: An introduction. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

McManus, J. (1995). A market‐based model of news production. Communication Theory, 5(4), 301–338.10.1111/j.1468-2885.1995.tb00113.xSearch in Google Scholar

Meeusen, C., & Jacobs, L. (2017). Television news content of minority groups as an intergroup context indicator of differences between target-specific prejudices. Mass Communication and Society, 20(2), 213–240.10.1080/15205436.2016.1233438Search in Google Scholar

Meltzer, C. E., Eberl, J. M., Theorin, N., Heidenreich, T., Strömbäck, J., Boomgaarden, H. G., & Schemer, C. (2020). Media effects on policy preferences toward free movement: evidence from five EU member states. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1778454.10.1080/1369183X.2020.1778454Search in Google Scholar

Mitchelstein, E., & Boczkowski, P. J. (2010). Online news consumption research: An assessment of past work and an agenda for the future. New Media and Society, 12(7), 1085–1102.10.1177/1461444809350193Search in Google Scholar

Molyneux, L. (2018). Mobile news consumption. Digital Journalism, 6(5), 634–650.10.1080/21670811.2017.1334567Search in Google Scholar

Neuberger, C., Nuernbergk, C., & Rischke, M. (2007). Weblogs und Journalismus: Konkurrenz, Ergänzung oder Integration? [Weblogs and journalism: Competition, complement, or integration?]. Media Perspektiven, 2, 96–112.Search in Google Scholar

Quinsaat, S. M. (2013). Migrant mobilization for homeland politics: A social movement approach. Sociology Compass, 7(11), 952–964.10.1111/soc4.12086Search in Google Scholar

Reich, Z. (2016). Comparing news reporting across print, radio, television and online: Still distinct manufacturing houses. Journalism Studies, 17(5), 552–572.10.1080/1461670X.2015.1006898Search in Google Scholar

Roberts, M. E., Stewart, B. M., Tingley, D., Lucas, C., Leder-Luis, J. Kushner Gadarian, S, Albertson, B., & Rand, D. G. (2014). Structural topic models for open-ended survey responses. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 1064–1082.10.1111/ajps.12103Search in Google Scholar

Schmidt-Catran, A. W., & Czymara, C. S. (2020). ‘Did you read about Berlin?’ Terrorist attacks, online media reporting and support for refugees in Germany. Soziale Welt, 71(1–2), 201–232.10.5771/0038-6073-2020-1-2-201Search in Google Scholar

Schultz, F., Kleinnijenhuis, J., Oegema, D., Utz, S., & van Atteveldt, W. (2012). Strategic framing in the BP crisis: A semantic network analysis of associative frames. Public Relations Review, 38(1), 97–107.10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.08.003Search in Google Scholar

Shoemaker, P. J. (1996). Hardwired for news: Using biological and cultural evolution to explain the surveillance function. Journal of Communication, 46(3), 32–47.10.1111/j.1460-2466.1996.tb01487.xSearch in Google Scholar

Snow, D. A., Vliegenthart, R., & Corrigall-Brown, C. (2007). Framing the French riots: A comparative study of frame variation. Social Forces, 86(2), 385–415.10.1093/sf/86.2.385Search in Google Scholar

Steuer, J. (1992). Defining virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence. Journal of Communication, 42(4), 73–93.10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00812.xSearch in Google Scholar

Tewksbury, D., & Scheufele, D. A. (2007). Special issue on framing, agenda setting, and priming: Agendas for theory and research. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 8–8.10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00337.xSearch in Google Scholar

Trilling, D., & Schoenbach, K. (2015). Investigating people’s news diets: How online users use offline news. Communications, 40(1), 67–91.10.1515/commun-2014-0028Search in Google Scholar

Trilling, D., van Klingeren, M., & Tsfati, Y. (2016). Selective exposure, political polarization, and possible mediators: Evidence from the Netherlands. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 29(2), 189–213.10.1093/ijpor/edw003Search in Google Scholar

van der Meer, T. G. L. A., Verhoeven, P., Beentjes, J. W. J., & Vliegenthart, R. (2016). Disrupting gatekeeping practices: Journalists’ source selection in times of crisis. Journalism, 18(9), 1107–1124. https://doi.org/10.1177/146488491664809510.1177/1464884916648095Search in Google Scholar

Van Gorp, B. (2005). Where is the frame? Victims and intruders in the Belgian press coverage of the asylum issue. European Journal of Communication, 20(4), 484–507.10.1177/0267323105058253Search in Google Scholar

van Klingeren, M., Boomgaarden, H. G., Vliegenthart, R., & De Vreese, C. H. (2015). Real world is not enough: The media as an additional source of negative attitudes toward immigration, comparing Denmark and the Netherlands. European Sociological Review, 31(3), 268–283.10.1093/esr/jcu089Search in Google Scholar

van Klingeren, M., Boomgaarden, H. G., & de Vreese, C. H. (2017). Will conflict tear us apart? The effects of conflict and valenced media messages on polarizing attitudes toward EU immigration and border control. Public Opinion Quarterly, 81(2), 543–563.10.1093/poq/nfw051Search in Google Scholar

Wallace, R. (2018). Contextualizing the crisis: The framing of Syrian refugees in Canadian print media. Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue Canadienne de Science Politique, 51(2), 207–231.10.1017/S0008423917001482Search in Google Scholar

Welbers, K., van Atteveldt, W., Kleinnijenhuis, J., Ruigrok, N., & Schaper, J. (2016). News selection criteria in the digital age: Professional norms versus online audience metrics. Journalism, 17(8), 1037–1053.10.1177/1464884915595474Search in Google Scholar

Zuiderveen Borgesius, F. J., Trilling, D., Möller, J., Bodó, B., de Vreese, C. H., & Helberger, N. (2016). Should we worry about filter bubbles? Internet Policy Review, 5(1).10.14763/2016.1.401Search in Google Scholar

Supplemental Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2019-0188).

Published Online: 2021-04-13
Published in Print: 2022-03-28

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston