Distorted realities : The discursive construction of realities in digital news media
Abstract: This study is designed to gain an understanding of the reality creation process in digital news media. By looking into the case of the Trump-Ukraine scandal the way how the 2 major US online news platforms CNN and FoxNews discursively construct reality for their audiences is examined. Within this analysis a qualitative framework is used, by applying a multi-method approach, consisting of a multimodal-discourse analysis and a critical discourse analysis. In the increasingly polarized and fragmented US society, explanations are needed for why people are having fundamentally different understandings of the current political events. A quite reasonable amount of research has been conducted in this field. However, the media studies are currently lacking profound explanations in the field of digital news. This project offers relevant findings of how the analyzed publications construct the events around an important and controversial topic through their online news coverage. Interestingly, this project shows that the news coverage about the Trump-Ukraine scandal in both channels differs decisively in terms of its journalistic style and contextual meaning. FoxNews uses direct quotations to hand over the narration to the political actors involved in the political process. In that way, FoxNews functions as the opinion creation machine for conservative worldviews and presents a Trump-favorable version of the events. On the other hand, CNN injects its news coverage with emotionalizing elements and creates through that a very Trump-critical and partly prejudiced news reporting, focusing more on the sensational value of the story rather than on sole information. Important to mention is that this research offers limited explanations to the problematic nature of the issue since digital news embodies a decisive factor in the opinion creation process but is one factor out of many. Therefore, more research is needed to fully elaborate on the digital news environment and its impacts on society.
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