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The First Amendment as a
Frame: A Content Analysis of
Kennesaw State University
Blogs use frames
• Blogs have blurred the lines between
producers of news and its consumers
(Gillmor, “We the Media,” 2004)
• Conceived in this manner, blogs may be
expected to use several tools, such as
framing, that the mass media have
traditionally used to influence their
consumers' understanding of issues.
Are blogs news producers?
• News producers transform discrete bits of
news information into powerful, socially
meaningful narratives that contribute to
the social construction of reality and
identity. (Tuchman, Making News, 1978)
Media use frames
• Media coverage usually does not
objectively reflect the world, because the
media use frames to provide their
consumers with themes that organize
information and provide a context for
understanding its meaning. (McQuail,
Sociology of Mass Communications,
What are frames?
• Media frames are ‘‘organizing principles
that are socially shared and persistent
over time, that work symbolically to
meaningfully structure the social world.’’
They act as a tool to shape and
manipulate information and influence how
people understand issues and perceive
themselves. (Reese, Framing Public Life,
The community state
• If in 1966 McLuhan suggested that the printing
press was responsible for the rise of the nation
state, forty years later, it may be argued that
Weblogs, or simply blogs, are responsible for the
rise of the “community state.”
• By 2005, over ten million blogs will have been
created, which would dramatically impact ways
in which information is exchanged in a variety of
fields. (Henning, The Blogging Iceberg, 2002).
Top ten blogs
• The ten most popular blogs read by media elites in 2004
– the Daily Dish by Andew Sullivan,
– Instapundit by Glenn Reynolds,
– Kausfiles by Mickey Kaus,
– the Corner by National Review Online,
– Talking Points Memo by Josh Marshall,
– Media News by James Romenesko,
– Eschaton by Atrios,
– Daniel Drezner’s blog,
– the Volokh Conspiracy by Eugene Volokh et al.,
– Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow and
– the Bleat by James Lileks.
(Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell, The Power and Politics
of Blogs, 2004).
H1: The First Amendment is a predominant
frame in the presentation of news and
commentary by the top political blogs.
-- Study found clear evidence to support
• Content analysis (Babbie, 2000)
• This study is a close textual reading of the ten
most popular blogs, over a period of five weeks
starting January 1, 2005, to identify the
frequency of occurrence of a First Amendment
• Specifically, the study analyzed how often
bloggers use values such as "freedom of
speech," "freedom of expression" or other
democratic liberties, as talking points in their
commentaries or presentations of events.
• 1. First Amendment, or its five constituent
freedoms (of speech, of the press, of religion, of
assembly, and of petition against grievances),
were a dominant theme in bloggers’ postings.
• 2. More than a third of blog posts use First
– In all, 284 posts from the top ten blogs were coded in
this study – spanning five weeks in starting January 1,
2005. Of them, 102 posts, or 36 per cent, cited the
First Amendment or one of its component freedoms to
support an argument or to make a point.
• 3. Freedom of speech and freedom of
religion were the two top First Amendment
frames. The frequencies:
– Freedom of speech or “free speech” – 21
– Freedom of the press – 11
– Freedom of religion – 18
– Freedom of assembly or association – 10
– Freedom to redress grievances – 4
– “First Amendment” – 38
• 4. Across the board, the top blogs displayed
relatively vigorous argument.
– To quote Derrida (trans., 1996), “We can no more
imagine effective speech without there being self-
representation than we can imagine a representation
of speech without there being effective speech.”
– Or as Fish (1994) explains, free speech “is just the
name we give to verbal behavior that serves the
substantive agendas we wish to advance.”
• Freedom of expression and democracy
• Paradigmatic approach to freedom of