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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 EMAIL logo and Marijn van Klingeren
From the journal Communications


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.


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.


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

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