Working Mechanically or Organically? Climate change journalist and news frames in mainstream and alternative media

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Climate change frames in the media affect the political and public debate. However, focusing on the frames in texts, most framing research overlooks the factors which influence frame-building by reporters. However, this is crucial for a fuller understanding of the potential implications and meanings of frames. Besides, the existing frame-building research is exclusively engaged with mainstream media. Also, visual frame-building is under-researched. Therefore, we have conducted interviews with 26 climate journalists, photo editors, chiefs and opinion-makers, working for three mainstream and two progressive alternative outlets in northern Belgium. The findings were combined with the outcome of a deductive framing analysis of 114 climate articles. The results show a strong overlap among journalist frames and news frames. Anthropocentric Subframes prevail in the mainstream news articles and among the reporters. A mixture of Biocentric and Anthropocentric Subframes was found in the context of the alternative outlets. We explain this by presenting the studied mainstream newsrooms as machines and the (progressive) alternative newsrooms as organisms. We conclude that the mainstream journalists are guided towards Anthropocentric Subframes by various (internalised) pressures. The practices in the alternative media liberate reporters to introduce a broader variety of frames.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1331
Number of pages21
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number10
Early online date26 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2018


  • climate change
  • frame-building
  • ideology
  • journalist frames
  • news frames
  • news values
  • newsroom organisation


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