What Is NewsFrames, And How Can You Get Involved?

Over the past few months you’ve probably been hearing about NewsFrames, the GV project spearheaded by Connie Moon Sehat—who joined GV last September—and a team of researchers.

What is NewsFrames?

NewsFrames is the resource the NewsFrames team has been building to help the GV community work on data-driven stories related to framing and issues of representation in the media. We’ve just completed a preliminary version of the user interface, which is now ready to be used by an initial group of early adopters, whose input— and bug finding skills :) —will be very important as we continue to develop the software.

The NewsFrames platform includes a collaborative writing space (on the left) and media analysis tools like Media Cloud (on the right).

Our end goal is to offer GV editors and contributors access to NewsFrames in order to:

  • Explore and master stories around the framing of news coverage
  • Analyze how different voices are represented by the media using collaborative or data journalism processes.

The NewsFrames platform incorporates Media Cloud, an open-source research tool created by our friends at the MIT Media Lab for studying media framing, and also space to define best practices for collaborative- and data-driven journalism that we can use at Global Voices.

What do you mean by “framing” news coverage?

If you've ever taken a photograph, you already know something about framing: out of everything going on in your field of vision, there’s a particular portion of it you find worth capturing. And how do you direct attention to that area? By focusing on a particular object or point within your viewfinder.

Limiting the field of vision to focus on a particular subject to “frame” a story is also a part of news reporting—the actions of defining context, developing subject and the actual writing of the story.

This is important because the choices you make in creating your news story guide the way your story will be interpreted. Framing is connected to the theory of “agenda setting.” To put it another way: the media can not only tell us what to think about, they also tell us how to think about those things. We talk a lot more about framing here.

How does NewsFrames help us write better stories?

While it's often easy to intuitively perceive bias in reporting, it can be challenging to articulate exactly what that bias is.

NewsFrames, which is developing both tools and clearly-defined methods for investigating bias and other frames should help us produce stories that, when evidence really matters, can rely less on anecdotes. NewsFrames can help us address the questions we have around the kind of voices and perspectives they want to highlight in comparison to, for instance, “mainstream news”.

We’ll also be able to use Media Cloud to quantify exactly how the media is reporting on stories.

Some examples of NewsFrames stories?

Sure! For example, NewsFrames investigated the story of how a photo of a horrific accident in the Democratic Republic of Congo seven years ago took on a life of its own in the years that followed (WARNING: Contains violent images).

And to learn more about how Venezuela is being framed, the NewsFrames team conducted a high-level review of reporting from three global news outlets with significantly different world views—The Miami Herald, Al Jazeera in English, and Russia Today. Using Media Cloud’s open-source content media analysis capabilities we selected relevant articles cited in the Media Cloud server for close analysis of topic and meaning. You can read the story here.

How can I participate?

Right now we're working with a “regional editor testing” group to determine how NewsFrames will be integrated into the Global Voices Newsroom.

But if you're already a GV author or translator, you may be able to participate immediately as well. We hope in the next months you'll hear more about these new GV “researchers,” volunteers who are participating through the use of NewsFrames tools and methodologies to investigate how the media frame stories.

If you’re interested in any of these activities, please contact your regional editor, or Connie, Nevin or Sana at NewsFrames.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.