There are two very valuable deliverables that result from Strategic Frame Analysis™ research on any given issue. One is the descriptive understanding of what patterns of thinking you are up against. And the other is prescriptive, the redirective cues that are most likely to counter those patterns.
News is written along the grain of the dominant cultural models. Far from the much touted definition of news as “man bites dog,” most news follows the “dog bites man” approach that carefully screens out anomalies in favor of comforting confirmation of cultural scripts. At FrameWorks, we like to say that “the news writes itself,” once you know the patterns in mind that have been shaped and honed by the culture.
Put another way, there is a double meaning in the New York Times slogan “all the news that’s fit to print.” Fit – as in aligned – is part of the reinforcing role of news in culture.
What that should mean is that, if Strategic Frame Analysis™ is worth its salt, it should help us be able to “preflight” the way a news article will approach a given topic – what it will focus on, what models it will evoke, what conceptual mistakes it will repeat.
Knowing this is tantamount to having the game plan against which you must develop strategy. You may not yet know how to counter the dominant narratives – that comes in the prescriptive part of FrameWorks’ research – but you will be able to anticipate what will be done to you and to prepare a strategy for redirecting the narrative in better ways.
Try this experiment to see how you might use FrameWorks’ research on child mental health to anticipate what you might reasonably expect to be in the New York Times Magazine story.
- First, watch our very short flash presentation that summarizes the gap between expert and lay thinking on child mental health.
- Next, make a list of what you would expect to be part of the narrative of child mental health.
- Finally, read the article and compare it to your expectations.
Now ask yourself this question: if you were to be interviewed for this article, what might you have done to redirect, counter, or deepen public understanding because you know where the reporters are likely to go?
Of course, the complete answer to that strategic question comes when FrameWorks tests Values against specific policy solutions and Simplifying Models for their ability to sharpen understanding. But we bet you will be surprised by how much your strategy can be informed just by knowing the narrative that is about to write itself.
Susan Nall Bales