ST. PETERSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Global communication and international journalism
RAKITIANSKAIA Aglaia Alexeevna
A comparative analysis of news framing effects:
News coverage of MH-17 airplane crash
Research supervisor –
Doct.Sci. in Political Science,
Assoc.Prof. Bodrunova Svetlana S.
CHAPTER 1. Crash of MH-17 as framed media content: review of theory and
§1. Media framing theory and its application to coverage of airplane crashes………7
Framing as a media effect: a review of theory………………………………..7
Functions of various media frames…………………………………………14
Framing in airplane crash news stories before 2014………………………..15
§2. The crash of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17: the context for media
2.1. The timeline of the airplane crash and investigations around it………………18
2.2. Russia Today and BBC News as news providers…………………………….24
§3. Framing analysis: review of methods…………………………………………30
3.1. The method in general………………………………………………………..30
3.2. Research design………………………………………………………………43
3.3 The employed methodology…………………………………………………..44
CHAPTER 2. The MH-17 crash and its coverage: the ‘blame game’
by RT and BBC……………………………………………………………………46
§4. The frames in news coverage of the MH-17 crash…………………………….46
4.1. The mobilization frame and its role in the coverage of the MH-17 crash……47
4.2. Secondary frames: reconstruction for RT and BBC………………………….58
§5. Main themes in news coverage of the MH-17 crash………………………….64
This Master thesis is devoted to the research upon framing of the events
directly related and surrounding the crash of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 that
may be found in online news articles by Russia Today and BBC.
News media serve as an important source of information and influential
modes of communication. This power controls much of what people recognize as
events that happen around the world on an everyday basis. The way information is
delivered to the consumer comes through various forms of communication, but they
are all united by an inherent feature – most of what is communicated is framed to
meet the goals of those who speak, whatever clear and socially-oriented these goals
Much research has been devoted to determining how news media frame
information so that it affects our understanding and analysis of issues. For today, the
crash of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 is the largest airplane crash after
September 11, 2001. A range of articles have been devoted to the catastrophe and
attempts of the authors to understand who was involved in this negative event and
why it happened. «The crash of MH-17 is an awful event, a death toll is the same
huge, the tragedy has affected so many families. Certainly, it is very-very ambiguous
event with a set of the inconsistent moments, and it will remain to that a lot more
years» (BBC Conspiracy files).
Unfortunately, at the moment, we do not have enough scientific research
information on the matter, as not so many works are written on framing in crisis
situations, in particular on airplane crashes. Moreover, the crash of the MH-17 is
more than a catastrophe and more than a tragedy. It is a negative issue that goes
beyond crisis and war, splicing and polarizing media and political arenas. Therefore,
it is a unique chance to know how online media handled coverage within a crisis.
The particular interest of this paper lies in how online sources frame the content of
one negative events.
The relevance of the subject of this research thesis is caused by:
insufficient understanding of the issue; lack of scientific material on the
the requirement of investigating of mechanisms of allocation of frames
in connection with the context of the event;
need of exploration of the nature of the frames found in the texts and
also of their effect upon wider media content.
The novelty of our research is based on the distinction of positions that is built
on the level of secondary and supplementary frames. Thus, on the main frame’ level
both of investigated media sources are oriented to the qualitative journalism.
However, episodic frames in contrary to the dominant frames give us an opportunity
to judge about the position of an editorial office in the conflict.
The object of this research is news coverage of international crises in online
media discourse in comparative perspective. The aspect under scrutiny is the frames
that appear within such coverage, especially linked to audience orientation and
editorial goals. The exact subject of research is the frames of responsibility
attribution in comparative perspective.
The final goal of the research is to investigate news articles about the issue,
revealing the main frames in relation to the editorial goals and audience profile of
the news outlets. To succeed in achieving this goal, the following tasks were set:
1) to investigate and classify types of frames in modern media content;
2) to analyze the revealed frames within the wider context of the articles on
3) to define the main patterns of responsibility attribution in the two media
covering the same issue;
4) to compare the ways news sources frame similar news stories, as well as
these media’s use of media framing and suggest the effect(s) these frames have on
the representation of events to their readers.
Our chronological framework covers the period from the day when the
catastrophe actually happened until March 2016; but this period is considered
discrete, as we focus upon the most important days inside the general timeline on
this issue. The research focuses on how media frame the airplane crash of Malaysian
Airlines Boeing MH-17 immediately on the day of the tragedy (July 17, 2014) and
The tasks set above have defined application of the corresponding methods:
chronological description, textual analysis, and frame analysis. The research is based
on the qualitative analysis that has allowed us to investigate the textual data and
The methodological basis of this thesis includes academic works in the field
of the theory of communication, journalism and sociology (such as Entman R.M.,
Goffman E., Gamson W.A. and others), and literature on media framing. By
examining media framing theories and applying these to our case of the two different
media entities compared, we have established differences in coverage of the same
event emerging via framing.
Our dataset includes news articles and headlines of the news pieces of BBC
and Russia Today channels from their original websites www.bbc.com and
www.rt.com from July 17, 2014 till March 8, 2016.The choice of material (RT and
BBC news) is depending on the role that English language media plays in the global
news world. Moreover, in terms of a Ukrainian conflict the chosen online sources
are relevant and important. As the material for research have served BBC news and
Russia Today online news pieces. In total 100 news articles, published during the
chosen time period (17 Jul. 2014 – 8 March 2016) were analyzed.
Theoretical importance of the results of our research stems from the fact that
our research leads to a better understanding of what media frames are, what they are
composed of and how framing affects the way news is offered to its audience. By
exploring media framing theory and applying it to the two textual datasets in our
study, several conclusions are made; we have spotted several trends differentiating
BBC and Russia Today in terms of framed responsibility attribution. These trends,
we hope, may help judge how exactly news sources are able to influence public
perception of a polarizing issue. Also, as framing news is almost impossible to avoid,
we need to state that this is what permits further exploration.
This study was supported on December 4, 2015 by the Research paper
competition for young European and Russian scholars 2015 conducted by the
University of Bielefeld and Council for young scientists.
The research paper consists of introduction, 3 chapters with paragraphs,
conclusion and bibliography.
Crash of MH-17 as framed media content: review of theory and context
§1. Media framing theory and its application to coverage of airplane crashes
Framing as a media effect: a review of theory
Researchers have studied framing theory since the late 20th century (e. g.
Entman, 1991, 1993; Iyengar, 1991; Goffman, 1974; Graber, 1988; Edelman, 1993;
Gamson, 1992 and etc.) Though, seldom have the source and motive behind the
frame and its possible implications been questioned and studied. This study aims at
analyzing the different ways news sources frame similar news stories, their use of
media framing and the effect these have on the representation of events to its readers.
The term ‘framing’ doesn’t have any particular definition. All what have been
employed have similarity in understanding of news frame or framing. According to
Neuman, these are “conceptual tool which media and individuals rely on to convey,
interpret and evaluate information” (Neuman et al., 1992, p. 60). Frames establish
dimensions “in which citizens discuss public events” (Tuchman, 1978). These
parameters play a role of “persistent selection, emphasis and exclusion” (Giltin,
1980, p. 7). Framing as a tool is used to choose “some aspects of a perceived reality,
<…>, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal
interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation” (Entman, 1993,
p. 53). Frames also help to “narrow the available political alternatives” (Tuchman,
1978, p. 156).
The term "framing" is also understood as activation-oriented cognitive
schemes for managing of interpretation by the addressee of a situation either a
message, or preliminary creation of an actor "an advocacy frame" of a disputable
question (Tewksbury et al., 2000). It also can be a cognitive process of
comprehension of reality by the individual. In dependences on object and subject,
the activation establishes eight types of framing (Hallahan, 1999), in particular,
"framing of news" as the image of events with the use of special methods for the
installation of unplanned events to the smart interpreting package (Gamson, 1984).
Framing of news created by mass media at the second stage of mediations, after the
filtration of the events, situations and social subjects who correspond to media logic.
Estimated media texts, advancing by mass media, form cognitive structures which
are included to the audience’ world picture (Rogozina, 2003). Purposeful impact of
actors on journalists is designated by a term “framing through mass media” or
“media framing” (Van Gorp, 2007).
Media framing is a complex and multilayered area of research. More than a
decade's worth of investigations exposes three major processes: frame construction,
framing effects, and frame definition (D'Angelo, 2002). “Frame structure focuses
on the way that journalists cast the elements of news stories, especially the layouts
that they use, newsmakers' purposes and values, and the devices that journalists use
in their work. For example, research on frame construction might examine what
stories get reported, which sources are cited or not cited, and where a story appears
in the layout of the news” (Putnam & Schoemaker, 2007). Framing effects study
midpoints on the outcomes of news framing and the contact between the media and
Frame definition centers on the content of news stories that arise from how
the media contributes to defining the situation. This process focuses on the discourse
units that carry news frames. Therefore, the media concept specific views of reality
through limiting the choice of information, selecting sources tactically, and setting
parameters for policy debates.
The framing of the media agenda is one of the strategy of "news management"
(Gurevitch &Blumler, 1990) and is also generally applied as a discursive method in
political competition for public opinion. In implementation of a media agenda’ an
actor should orient both on its own advocacy frames, media logic, "entrance filters"
of public and political agendas, dominant cognitive schemes and sociocultural
scenarios. The important role in assessing this communication action plays the
actor’s chose of linguistic tools to build the convincing messages in one time
oriented to the journalists and auditory.
At the basis of the media text (mass media publication) is based a media frame
that activate at the auditory the cognitive schema of interpretation of the issue
(Entman, 1991). A media frame is a key idea of the “interpretive media package”
(Gamson, Modigliani 1989) that attribute to the topic of media text the specific
sociocultural meanings. At the same time the same topic as an amount of combined
questions can be described with a help of different frames and the same frame can
be used for highlighting different subjects. To the corresponding verbal and nonverbal symbolic markers usually include the headline, confirming examples,
references to sources, photos, schemes, schedules, drawings, collages, musical
fragments, case facts, linguistic metaphors (Pan & Kosicki 1993; Tankard et al.,
One of the important linguistic tool is a metaphor. It allows to use one
structured and accurately allocated concept for structuring other concept (Lakoff &
Johnson, 2008). In relation to events metaphor is considered as full or partial
projection of relational structure of event-source to event-goal. To an event-goal are
attributed causality, focus and consequences event-source. Actor with the choose of
metaphor model impose to the addressee the set of alternatives of problem situation’
solving (Baranov, 2003). The same "frame in thought" can be expressed in different
messages by different metaphors, and, on the contrary, in the same message within
one media frame can be used different metaphors (Chudinov, 2001). If conventional
metaphors are equivalent to steady cognitive schemes, new metaphors in addition
comprise emotional and expressional assessment of a phenomenon and are able to
activate non-standard cognitive schemes for the description of this phenomenon
Media framing is the way that information is offered to its audiences. Goffman
was the first to concentrate on framing as a form of communication and defined
“framing” as a “schemata of interpretation” that allows people to “locate, perceive,
identify and label” events or life experiences (Goffman, 1974). Robert Entman
modernized this definition by specifying that “to frame a communicating text or
message is to promote certain facets of a ‘perceived reality’ and make them more
salient in such a way that endorses a specific problem definition, causal
interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or a treatment recommendation” (Entman,
1993, p. 51).
The resoluteness of media framing is estimated by the change of definitions’
repertoire, causes, consequences, decisions and an assessment of a controversial
issue in the media agenda of a day or as the most extent influence of advocacy frame
on public opinion. Resource superiority allows some actors to transform own
advocacy frames to the dominant media frames and in that decisive way to influence
on public discourse.
There are some interconnected factors of involuntary news framing’ influence
and the factors of media framing’ efficiency as a purposeful communicative activity.
In both cases it is predicted that the auditory will actualize the special cognitive
schema of the dispute question and will establish the assessment of the schema’
suitability to reflect (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).
"Frames in communication" express in a natural language sociocultural
scenarios (Shenk &Abelson, l976). The functions of symbolical markers in the text
as a “communication frame” carry out language clichés and stock phrases, case
statements, case names and metaphors (Gudkov, 2003). These verbal markers are
associated with "frames in thought" and activate at addressee concrete cognitive
communication is one of aspects of discourse analysis.
Understanding mass communications through the idea of framing has become
increasingly common in the fields of onto psychology, sociology, or journalism and
media studies. The idea of ‘news frames’ refers to explanatory structures that
journalists use to set specific events within their wider context. News frames
establish main ideas, typical phrases, and iconic images to support certain common
ways of understanding developments.
The essence of framing is selection to prioritize some facts, images, or
developments over others, by this means automatically promoting one specific
interpretation of the issue. Where conventional news frames reflect broader norms
and values common within a particular society, dissident movements challenging
the mainstream news culture are likely to prove most critical of their use, providing
rival ways to frame and interpret events (Lemore, 1993). Frames serve multiple
functions for different actors. Political leaders can respond to events and
communicate policy priorities simply and effectively by adopting predominant
cultural frames to streamline and simplify their message.
Reporters can also 'tell it like it is’ within 60 seconds, or within brief
newspaper headlines, rapidly sorting key events from surrounding trivia, by drawing
on reservoirs of familiar stories to cue readers. And the public can use frames to sort
out and make sense of complex and unfamiliar events, peoples, and leaders (Lemore,
1993). According to McCombs and Shaw (1997), the most important effect of the
mass media was "its ability to mentally order and organize our world for us." The
news media "may not be successful in telling us what to think," the authors stated,
"but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about."
Although news framing is an important characteristic of political
communications, many puzzles remain about the reasons why one frame rather than
another becomes adopted and reinforced as the conventional interpretation of a
particular event, especially where competing or harsh interpretations are initially
offered by different actors in any political contest. We know still less about what
impact news frames have upon public opinion, especially in ‘two-sided’ conflicts
where there can be dissonance between the predominant frames offered by leaders
and the news media on different sides of any political conflict. In evenly separated
two-sided conflicts, strong emotional reactions to extreme acts of political violence
mean each society may offer different explanations of events and issues, sharing
almost nothing in common.
The news media serving each community may reflect and thereby reinforce
these cultural divisions, especially in cultures with strong linguistic cleavages, or
journalists and broadcasters may effort to link and overcome community differences
by sensibly balancing different viewpoints. The role of the international mass media
and international agencies enhances another layer of difficulty to this process, as this
can provide another perspective challenging any one-sided agreement operating
inside a society.
Today, media effects can be categorized as “social constructionism”
(Scheufele, 1999, p. 103). Mass media constructs social reality by “framing images
of reality . . . in a predicable and patterned way” (McQuail, 1994, p. 331). According
to Gamson and Modigliani (1989), “Media discourse is part of a process by which
individuals construct meaning, and public opinion is part of the process by which
journalists . . . develop and crystallize meaning in public discourse” (Gamson &
Framing effect is “one in which salient attributes of a message (its
organization, selection of content, or thematic structure) render particular thoughts
applicable, resulting in their activation and use in evaluations” (Price et al., 1997, p.
486). In other words, framing effects are “changes in judgement engendered by
subtle alterations in the definition of judgement of choice of problems” (Iyengar,
1987, p. 816).
In social theory, a ‘frame’ consists of a schema of clarification and
stereotypes that individuals rely on to understand and react on events. In
communication, framing defines how news media coverage can form mass opinion
by using these specific frameworks to help direct their reader to understand.
Journalists present information in ways that affect an audience’s understanding or
interpretation of issues, stories or events (Lowrey, p. 327). Framing is “the central
organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events
and weaves a connection among them” (Gamson, 1993, p.15). By choosing facts
from a nonstop flow of information, they have the ability to manipulate attitudes,
beliefs and behavior in a number of ways that include emphasizing specific issues
or events over others, determining the order of presentation, using duplication and
determining the nature of support for information.
By incorporating media framing with agenda setting, priming and bias,
Entman believes that readers can better understand how and why framing occurs in
the media. “Agenda setting serves as the first function of framing as it defines the
problems worthy of government attention.” Priming is “the goal, the intended effect,
of strategic actors’ framing activities” (Entman, 1993, p. 165). Agenda setting will
always occur, even if it is not pervasively biased. However, when paired, agenda
setting and priming have the ability to create widespread bias. Bias, as defined by
Entman, is “consistent patterns in the framing of mediated communication that
promote the influence of one side of conflicts over the use of government power”
(Entman, 1993, p. 166).
Consumer culture has entered the business of media through the use of
framing, agenda setting, priming and bias, which enables its commerce. According
to Budd, Craig and Steinmen (1999), “Media meet recommended or endorsed bias
at the most fundamental levels: consistent framing in favor of capitalism, patriarchy,
heterosexism, individualism, consumerism and White privilege, among other deeply
entrenched values that help allocate power in American society” (Budd, Craig &
A number of studies have focused on news content and how it is framed
(Entman, 1993; Fico et al., 2001; Iyengar, 1993; Nacos,1994; Norris, 1995; Pan et
al., 1993; Tewksbury et al., 2000; Ungar, 1998). Nacos analyzed the content of CBS
Evening News and The New York Times’ terrorism coverage of the Iranian hostage
crisis, the TWA hijacking, the Achille Lauro highjacking, the American air raids on
Libya, and the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 (1994). Ungar (1998), Herzog
(2000), Simon (1993), and Entman (1991) analyzed news stories about crises.
Network coverage of international news has also been studied extensively
(Gonzenbach et al., 1992; Larson, 1984; Norris, 1995; Entman, 1991). These studies
and others found that news themes and issues change over time; emphasis on a theme
or issues can be determined by number, length and story order, and that certain
common themes are used to frame the coverage of news (Norris, 1995, p. 361).
Fuglsang (2001) argues that journalists rely on “readily understood,
interpretive frames” found in “ritual, myth, and metaphor” in order to develop
frames (p. 185). Framing is also considered in term of storytelling (Christopher,
2007; Durham, 1998; Andsager, 1993; Pan & Kosicki, 1993; Bird, 1990). According
Van Gorp, who tried to combine cultural context and media frames, there is a special
“frame package”, with a help of which the frame can be created (2011) The structural
elements of a “frame package” are “the manifest framing devices” (lexica,
metaphors), “the manifest of latent reasoning” (argumentation of causes-related
chains), “implicit cultural phenomenon” (cultural values and archetypes)
Functions of various media frames
From the beginning of the century when the ethic of objectivity began to take
over news reportage, journalists have used the individual frame to dramatize a story.
The general belief was that personalized news stories were not only more easy to get
to and "newsworthy" but that this form of "muckraking" spurred governmental and
social service agencies to action by arousing public support on behalf of the
disadvantaged (Iyengar, 1993).
Frames represent “ideological” positions and “social narratives” through
which journalism “create meaning” (Durham 1998, p. 105). Stories with particularly
horrific content, such as plane crashes or terrorist attacks, need a frame through
which journalists can provide some type of meaning in order to aid their audience in
understanding and coping with the event. These frames provide a way to think and
talk about events and issues. Entman (1991, p. 52), for example, determines this
process as selecting “. . . some aspects of a perceived reality and [making] them more
salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem
definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation
for the item described.”
According to Iyengar (1993) viewers are "sensitive to contextual cues when
they reason about national affairs. Their explanations of issues like terrorism or
poverty are critically dependent upon the particular reference points furnished in
media presentations." The frames for a certain story are rarely carefully chosen but
represent as an alternative to the effort of the journalist or sponsor to carry a story in
a straight and meaningful way. As such, news frames are commonly drawn from,
and thoughtful of, shared cultural narratives and myths and vibrate with the larger
social themes to which journalists tend to be highly sensitive.
According to Berkowitz (2005), the more “unusual and unexpected” an event
is, the more journalists seek to explain it in a way that is “relatively familiar” (p.
608). According to Iyengar, the episodic frame, or presenting an individual, standalone news story, is more common than the use of thematic frame (1993). Entman
noted that key words, sources and sentences form thematic clusters develop
primarily at the site of the reporter-source relationship, where (eventual) agreement
on the nature of the story between the two is assumed (p. 6-27).
Nisbet, Brossard and Kroepsch examined frames which prevail in the text,
should be considered main (dominant/lead frames), and that are on the second plan,
– auxiliary (secondary/complementary frames) Anyway, is obvious that many of
these options of frames mean existence of a situation when one aspects of the
described phenomenon are mentioned, and others - No. Or on one attention it is
pointed, others thus, on the contrary, fall back into the shadow (2003). Entman
believes also comes to the same conclusion that the framing is not only how
something is presented in the press. Framing according to him, assumes as well
default about the separate parties of any event, the phenomenon or the personality.
Framing in airplane crash news stories before 2014
Framing has been applied to debates of airplane crashes before. In a 1996
article, Marks examines the news media’s effort to establish a frame to report the
crash of TWA Flight 800. Durham also discusses the unsuccessful efforts of news
media to cohesively frame the crash (Durham, 2005). In a separate and later incident,
Dettmer (2001) discusses how the news media attempted to frame the crash of
American Airlines Flight 587 as a terrorist attack as this fit with the current
audience’s understanding of plane crashes as this occurred closely after the 9/11
attack on the World Trade Center. When this proved wrong, Dettmer describes
television news commentators struggling to break from this frame (Dettmer 2001).
It is interesting to note that the news media struggled to find a frame for airplane
crashes prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but post-9/11 immediately adopted the
terrorist frame. After 9/11, a new ‘war on terrorism’ frame was fast adopted in the
White House as the main standard used to reinterpret and recognize ‘friends’ and
‘enemies’ around the world.
The use of the terrorism frame serves several functions, both cognitive by
connecting together unequal facts, events and leaders, and also evaluative by
identification committers, identifying victims, and attributing blame. It allows
political leaders to communicate a clear simple message to the public, while also
restructuring perceptions of ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’. In the words of President Bush:
"Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or
you are with the terrorists” (Iyengar, 1996).
“Yet just like scientific paradigms, at times long-established journalistic
frames can break down, producing confusing rivalry between alternative
interpretations of the most appropriate news narrative, or the displacement of one
conventional frame by a rival way of understanding events in the world” (Norris,
Kern & Just, 2003).
In polar contexts, like BBC and RT, awareness of challenging news frames
means that the procedure of political communications can become particularly
provocative, as both communities dispute the meaning and explanation of similar
The catastrophe of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 is definitely not a usual
case. Possibly the Malaysian Boeing Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 is the shotdown plane. Thus, the main dispute still remains not only the question about the
truth of this the put-forward conclusion about the reason of the catastrophe, but also
the question about who shot down the plane. Therefore, the main issue, inhering to
the framing is the question of who is actually responsible in this issue. This statement
exactly shows the position of an editorial office in general and can afford to estimate
objectivity of editorial office that is established in western media theory as a measure
of quality for qualitative journalism.
To understand this phenomenon, this study pursues to understand how the
process of political communications, particularly the role of the news media,
contributed towards the frames used for understanding a crisis, political conflict
inside international affairs and a tragedy. “Where conventional frames become
pervasive within a particular news culture, journalists may well believe themselves
to be reporting ‘just the facts’ in the tradition of objective and balanced reporting, as
they are unaware of the way that the broader frame shapes their story narratives”
(Norris, Kern & Just, 2003).
§2. The crash of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17: the context for
2.1. The timeline of the airplane crash and investigations around it
The catastrophe of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 in Donetsk region —
the crash of Malaysia Airlines aircraft which was performing planned flight from
Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, happened on July 17, 2014 in the east of Donetsk
region of Ukraine. Onboard there were 283 passengers and 15 crew members, all of
It was the second accident with Boeing numbering 777-200ER 9M-MRx of
this airline in five months (together with the disappearance of Boeing 777 in March,
2014), by number of the dead people it became the largest in the history of aircraft
since September 11, 2001 and entered the hugest ten air crashes in history.
According to Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, it is the largest plane crash of
the XXI century and in the former Soviet Union.
The governments of Ukraine and a number of the western countries claim,
that there are enough proofs that the plane was shot down by ZRK Buk which was
in hands of the pro-Russian rebels. The version about attack by the surface-to-air
rocket is the main (Yle Uutiset, 2014).
Crash of the passenger liner led to strengthening of the international pressure
upon Russia. The USA and their allies adhere to the version that the plane was shot
down by the rocket of the class "the earth — air" with use of the surface-to-air
missile system received from Russia. According to U.S. intelligence, after
destruction of the ZRK Malaysian plane it was taken out on the territory of the
Russian Federation. The only thing in what intelligence services dispersed — is a
question of the one who exactly shot down the plane — the Russian army or the proRussian rebels.
The government of Ukraine invited to participation in investigation of
representatives of the authorities of Malaysia and the Netherlands, European
Commission, the American company Boeing, International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO), the American National council on safety on transport (NTSB)
and the European organization for safety of air navigation (Eurocontrol). On 18 July
2014 New York Daily News reported what the Vice President Joe Bilden called the
plane disaster 'a grave situation’, “The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was
reportedly shot down on Ukrainian-Russian border, killing all 298 people aboard.
Ukrainian officials blamed Moscow while Russia blamed the Ukraine” (Walsh M.,
Mcshane L., 18 July 2014). Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called the tragedy
“an act of terrorism” (BBC 17 July 2014).
On 18 July 2014 Reuters named the tragedy of MH-17 “an alarming escalation
of the Ukraine conflict”, Kiev blames the pro-Russian “terrorists,” with Moscow
responsible for providing them with intelligence and weapons. The separatists deny
involvement and accuse Kiev of planning the attack, citing the Ukrainian military’s
accidental shooting of a Siberian Airlines flight in 2001. Moscow blames the
Ukrainian government for pushing the rebels into this violent situation — even if
Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped short of pinning the airliner attack on
Kiev. Despite the confusion, it’s clear what MH-17 means: dramatic escalation and
an even more combustible conflict (Ian Bremer, 18 July 2014).
On July 18 in Donetsk arrived 30 employees of special monitoring mission of
OSCE in Ukraine "to be engaged in collecting the facts and supervision over a
situation around crash" and "to provide the international presence before arrival of
aviation experts". In the evening observers got limited access to a crash place. As
the deputy press secretary of OSCE Natasha Radzhakovich reported, it is about quite
big zone with perimeter in tens kilometers (ITAR TASS, 2014 July).
On July 18 and 19 in a number of media there was information that search
works on the accident site are disturbed by the armed people who are responsible for
protection of the district. On July 19 observers of OSCE could get limited access to
fragments. By then 38 bodies brought (BBC, 19 July 2014) in a mortuary of Donetsk
controlled by insurgents. According to the Deputy Prime Minister of DPR Andrey
Purgin, insurgents didn't allow OSCE Representatives to plane fragments as it "lies
between two fronts".
As it is specified in the report of OSCE observation mission in Ukraine
published in Vienna on July 21 for the period till 18:00 on July 20 inclusive,
observers of OSCE got full access to a plane crash site, the crash zone is reliably
protected now. "On the twentieth of July full access to the main place of accident
which was for this purpose appropriately surrounded was provided to employees of
mission — it is told in the document. — Search of the dead proceeded" (ITAR
TASS, 17 July 2014). Observers noted that "on July 19 their access was still limited,
but to a lesser extent, than a day earlier; the perimeter of safety was protected
On July 21 the prime minister of DNR Alexander Boroday has reported that
on the place of the crash of Boeing MH-17 were founded remains of 282 dead
people: "Bodies are collected from the crash place with the greatest possible
accuracy from and shipped in five wagon-refrigerators. These wagons are at the
station in Thorez … We can send them somewhere only accompanied by the
international experts". According to the data of the air carrier, as a result of crash all
298 people have died. Among the victims were 193 citizens of the Netherlands, one
of them also had citizenship of the USA. In the list also named 43 citizens of
Malaysia, among whom there were 15 crew members, 27 citizens of Australia, 12
from Indonesia. Ten victims more were citizens of Great Britain, one of them had
dual citizenship— the Republic of South Africa. Among the dead there were four
Germans and four Belgians, three Filipinos, one citizen of Canada and one from
New Zealand (Interfax, 21 July 2014).
In the evening on July 21 the train with bodies of the victims of plane crash
went to Kharkiv. According to the prime minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte,
the Ukrainian authorities have agreed to that the process of an identification has been
organized in the Netherlands (TASS, 21 July 2014)
July 22 the prime minister of Great Britain David Cameron reported that at
the request of the Netherlands the British experts of Farnborough laboratory where
investigations of air incidents with planes of NATO in Europe are conducted will be
engaged in interpretation of black boxes (Lenta.ru, 22 July 2014)
July 22 the staff of Interpol group on investigation of incidents begun
procedure of a preliminary identification of bodies of the victims in Kharkiv (TASS,
22 July 2014).
The press service of DNR has reported on July 23 that 16 bodies more of the
dead are under the fuselage remains on the place of falling of the air liner and will
be evacuated "after carrying out necessary works" (TASS, 23 July 2014).
July 23 the first forty bodies have been transported by two military transport
planes to Eindhoven. After a funeral ceremony the procession with 40 catafalques
has gone to military base in Hilversum where procedure of identification of remains
had to be carried out (TASS, 23 July 2014).
July 24 bodies of 74 more victims of plane crash were delivered to the
Netherlands (TASS, 24 July 2014). In the same day the British officials declared that
they don’t want to make public the data received as a result of interpretation of flight
recorders and provided it to the Netherlands authorities (Novaya gazeta, 24 July
July 26, referring to the unnamed employee from Evrokontrol, the CBS TV
channel reported that data of recorders indicate the explosive decompression which
has arisen onboard the aircraft. On July 28 the representative of information center
of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine reported that the plane has
crashed owing to "numerous fragmental defeats from rocket explosion".
Representative of the Netherlands council for safety (NSB) Sara Verna reported that
for NSB the publication of the data became surprise as premature disclosure of
information in contrary to the interest of investigation. “Council didn't transfer
interpretation from flight recorders of the broken "Boeing" to Ukraine” (CBS, 26
July 28, 2014 with the participation of Eurojust investigators of 12 countries
the negotiations about cooperation in criminal investigation has begun (The Hague,
28 July 2014)
August 7 the State commission on a crash investigation reported that the group
of the international experts finished the first phase of searching the plane fragments
and dead bodies due to the life threat of the members of group working at the
accident site. According to the commission, "unexplored are less than three
territorial zones where there are fragments". Before making decision on extension
of searches the most part of experts will leave Ukraine, except for small group for
implementation of communication and coordination (TASS, 7 August 2014).
August 7, 2014 according to the rules of the Integrated was organized the
investigation team Europol (Joint investigation team — JIT) making criminal and
legal investigation which representatives of the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia,
Ukraine, Malaysia and Eurojust. The speaker of the State Office of Public Prosecutor
of Ukraine Yury Boychenko declared that Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and
Australia have signed on August 8, 2014 the agreement in which they established a
ban of disclosure of information on the course and results of criminal investigation
of accident of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 made by the joint group of
investigators (JIT). According to this, results of investigation will be published after
its end and at a consent of the parties which signed the agreement (Lévesque, 2014)
September 9, 2014 the Netherlands Council for safety (DSB) published the
first preliminary report of the international commission on investigation of plane
crash. The plane at a departure was completely technically serviceable.
November 18, 2014 appeared the statement of the ambassador of Malaysia in
the Netherlands Datuk Fauziah Mohd Taib that "Malaysia still hasn't received the
official invitation for participation in the Integrated team of investigators (English
Joint Investigation Team — JIT) headed by the Netherlands which carries out
criminal investigation". Till this time representatives of Malaysia were included only
into the group of technical specialists (Razak Ahmad, 18 November 2014).
To the March 27, 2015 296 dead bodies were identified. The latest search
works on the place of crash have taken place from April 18 to April 28, 2015,
according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of DNR 2,5 thousand fragments
of the bodies of the crash victims have been collected, the remains of 7 people have
been brought to the Netherlands on May 2.
March 30, 2015 the Integrated investigation team JIT reported that it looks
for the eyewitnesses seeing the Beech surface-to-air missile system. Then the
investigation team published on the Internet the address in several languages,
including Russian and Ukrainian to contact them by telephone number or by e-mail
(BBC, 30 March 2015)
August 11, 2015 the group declared that investigates objects, perhaps that are
the part of the BUK surface-to-air missile system. According to the Netherlands
NOS edition, it is about the splinters of the rocket founded in fragments of the plane
and in bodies of the dead passengers of the flight MH-17. As stated the edition, the
analysis has allowed to claim that the plane was shot down by the rocket of the BUK
surface-to-air missile system (BBC, 11 August 2015)
October 13, 2015 Council for safety of the Netherlands (DSB) published the
final version of the report of technical investigation. DSB hasn't found signs of
technical breakdown of the plane or an error of crew. Proceeding from indications
of flight recorders and data of land dispatching services, the Dutch experts note that
the flight MH-17 was performed in the regular mode to 5:20:03 PM Moscow time
when the flight was interrupted.
At a summit in Minsk on 11 February 2015, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia,
France, and Germany agreed to a set of measures to alleviate the ongoing war in the
Donbass region of Ukraine. The negotiations that led to the deal, overseen by the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), were organized in
response to the collapse of the Minsk Protocol ceasefire in January–February 2015.
The new package of measures is proposed to recover the Protocol, which had been
agreed to on 5 September 2014.
Succeeding efforts to resolve the ongoing war in the Donbass region of
Ukraine had seen no outcome by the start of February 2015 (The Guardian, 12
February, 2015). While the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014 did significantly
reduce fighting in the conflict zone for many months, minor fights continued. At the
start of January 2015, the separatist forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)
and Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) began a new offensive on Ukrainiancontrolled areas, resulting in the complete collapse of the Minsk Protocol ceasefire.
Above-mentioned dates turn out as the basic and most important. Our research
is based on these dates and our empirical base is investigated according to this
timeline: July 17, 2014 – September 2014; October 13, 2015; November 18, 2014;
January, 2015; February 2015; March 27, 2015; March 30, 2015; August 11, 2015;
2.2. Russia Today and BBC News as news providers
Andrew Arno and Wimal Dissanayake (1984) propose four basic principles
of an international code of media ethics: prevention of war and promotion of peace;
respect for culture, tradition and values; promotion of human rights and dignity; and
preserve human association in the context of the home, family and community. (p.
34-35) The promotion of peace principles suggests the media increase the amount
of information available on peaceful solutions, break down dehumanizing
stereotypes, be aware of hidden biases while covering controversies, and help create
a public mood conducive to the spirit of reconciliation. Wolfsfeld, Rami Khouri, and
Yoram Peri (2002) state that challenges to peace journalism include the media's
fixations with conflict and war as a self-sustaining drama and news about enemies
tending to be fundamentally ethnocentric. (p. 190-191) They also argue "the greater
the number of sources and institutions promoting the same interpretive frame, the
more that frame will tend to dominate media discourse.” (p. 199) After studying
coverage of the Israeli-Jordanian peace process, the researchers conclude "the news
media are much better suited for the conduct of war than the pursuit of peace.'' (p.
Today, media giants, such as BBC and Russia Today, dictate what the public
reads, watches and ultimately perceives as the truth. By comparing the manner that
opposite mainstream mass media sources portray the negative events, it is easy to
see the difference in the way each structures its news. While both have agendas, the
difference lies in the motive of profit.
The agenda setting theory states that the news media have a huge effect on
audiences. News companies and journalists have the ability to dictate what stories
are considered newsworthy and how much importance and space they are allocated.
Connecting this theory with that of framing, researchers have been able to study the
effect of mass media in the creation of public opinion. With an understanding of
these theories, it becomes apparent that media sources with economic support and
influence could have an effect on the opinions of their readers. The formation of
words used in a news article creates a vehicle for persuasion that has the opportunity
to form stereotypes and simplifications among the minds of its readers.
According to the differences between chosen media, the diversity in covering
of events is predicted.
RT, originally Russia Today, is a Russian government-funded television
network that runs cable and satellite television channels heading for worldwide to
audiences outside Russia as well as providing Internet content in numerous
languages, including Russian.
RT International is based in Moscow, Russia, presents 24-hours news reports,
documentaries, talk shows, debates, sports news, and cultural programs about
Russia. RT works as a multilingual service with conventional channels in three
languages: the original English language channel was launched in 2005, the Arabic
language channel in 2007, and the Spanish language channel in 2009. RT America
(since 2010) and RT UK (since 2014) offer some locally based content for those
countries ((Nikolaus von Twickel, 2010).
RT is a product of "TV-Novosti", an "autonomous non-profit organization",
founded by the Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, on April 6, 2005
(Shepovalnikov, 2010). During the economic crisis in December 2008, the Russian
Government, included ANO "TV-Novosti" in the list of core organizations of
strategic importance of the coutry.
RT network now consists of three global news channels broadcasting in
English, Spanish and Arabic, RT America broadcasting from a Washington, DC
studio, RT UK airing from London, and a documentary channel RTDoc – in English
and Russian. Today RT has a global reach of over 700 million people in 100+
In Russia, Andrey Illarionov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, called the
channel "the best Russian propaganda machine targeted at the outside world"
(Stephen Heyman, 2008). Media analyst Vasily Gatov wrote in 2014 in Moscow
Times about sharp ethical and reporting skills which are not required for Russian
media employees, including RT (Gatov Vasily, 2014). Cliff Kincaid, the director of
Accuracy in Media's Center for Investigative Journalism, called RT "the well-known
disinformation outlet for Russian propaganda". The United Kingdom media
regulator, Ofcom, has repeatedly found RT to have breached rules on impartiality,
and of broadcasting "materially misleading" content. RT itself states that it offers a
Russian perspective on global events (Benjamin Bidder, 2013).
Some experts consider Russia Today TV to be the equal to American
propaganda channel Voice of America. However, the directors of the channel
compare the RT to BBC and CNN rather than to Voice of America. Differences in
perception of RTTV reproduce doubt about the character of this TV channel. “After
the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia has kept its distance from intervening in
world affairs so it had a lot of time to watch what was going on. And what is going
on is not a pretty sight. It found that EU and US have turned the world into their own
playground with wars, bombing and financial collapses” (Arbolito, 2013).
The Russia Today TV channel has good examples of international television
to keep an eye on. Like BBC, the Russian English-speaking channel can be
supported by the government in order to broadcast cultural and educational programs
which do not provide income. Like CNN, Russia Today can give independent
reporting to its subscribers and gain profits from advertisement.
BBC is The British Broadcasting Corporation British broadcasting
corporation. Since 1922 BBC works by the principle of public broadcasting (it
means financial independence for corporation and, as a result — independence of
editorial policy). Legally the BBC carries out the activity according to the Charter
(the charter under which there is the British tele broadcasting corporation). The BBC
charter with defined tasks, a role and structure of corporation came into force in
1927. It updates every 10 years. BBC is a statutory corporation that doesn't have
The stable budget of BBC forms a special tax which is paid by all residents of
Great Britain who has TVs and also any devices like mobile phone which allow to
look through video signal in real time. Total number of all listeners entering into the
World service of departments exceeds 150 million people. In Great Britain the BBC
has more than 20 various TV channels, including also full-time news channel - BBC
Some reporters did not distinguish between the Voice of America and BBC,
which are supported by American and British governments and CNN, which is a
commercial project. The difference between the Voice of America and BBC was
evidently defined by Thomas L. McPhail (2002): “A noticeable distinction between
the VOA and the BBC is that the former emphasizes a U.S. orientation and a White
House viewpoint, whereas the latter focuses on world news and global trends, with
minimum attention to solely British news or to the prime minister’s agenda.
Internationally, the VOA is viewed as a propaganda arm of the U.S. government,
whereas BBC programming is perceived as independent, objective, and more
The public purposes of BBC are set out by the Royal Charter and
Agreement, the constitutional basis for the BBC. The mission of BBC is to enrich
people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. The
vision of the channel is to be the most creative organisation in the world.
The values of BBC are:
Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and
Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.
We take pride in delivering quality and value for money.
Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation.
We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can
give their best.
We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together.
The BBC provides high-quality news, current affairs and factual programming
to engage its viewers, listeners and users in important current and political issues
(BBC official web site)
Encouraging interest, engagement and participation in cultural, creative
and sporting activities across the UK. BBC viewers, listeners and users can rely on
the BBC to reflect the many communities that exist in the UK.
The BBC will build a global understanding of international issues and
broaden UK audiences' experience of different cultures.
Assisting UK residents to get the best out of emerging media
technologies now and in the future.
To sum up, it is expected that established frame of the conflict will be occurred
in RT news pieces and BBC in equal volume. Contrary, we also expect from BBC
to be objective and present the idea of humanism. RT is funded by the Russian state
and presents a Russian view of events. BBC is, likewise, financed by the UK state
(via a tax) and offers a British window on the world. “The difference may reside on
the fact that Russia Today not only gives the news but also gives an alternative
explanation to the causes and consequences of war and peace” (Arbolito, 2013).
Moreover, BBC lunches on 21st of May 2016 the special program Conspiracy
files “Who shot down MH-17?” and we believe that this documentary is objective
and unbiased. “When Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 was shot down over Ukraine,
killing all 298 passengers and crew, a storm of conspiracy theories was unleashed
across social media. While the official inquiries have pointed the finger of blame at
separatist fighters and their Russian backers, a host of different theories claim the
Ukrainian government, and even the CIA, were to blame”. With revealing
eyewitness testimonies, satellite photographs, wire taps, clandestine videos and
expert evidence, Conspiracy Files tries to sort the fact from the fiction. In a world
where the information war fought online can be just as significant as battles on the
ground, this film also analyses the role of the Kremlin in the search for the truth
about who shot down MH-17. (Conspiracy files, 2016).
§3. Framing analysis: review of methods
3.1. The method in general
Framing analysis usually has three approaches: the effect of journalistic
norms, values, or organizational structures; actual news content; and the effects of
news frames on the public’s understanding of issues or events (Norris, p. 360). This
study is interested in exploring the second of these approaches by investigating
frames of news articles.
Comparative textual analysis is a method of research defined, in brief, as
“the systematic assignment of communication content to categorize according to
rules, and the analysis of relationships involving those categories using statistical
methods (Riffe, Lacy & Fico, 2005, p. 3). Under the consideration of framing theory,
researchers are able to conduct content analysis by measuring clusters of messages
also known as frames to see how these are then incorporated into their audiences’
schemata (Entman, 1993). Content analysis is essential to finding patterns, based on
which scholars and researchers can methodically evaluate news media and its use of
framing. In turn, this allows for the comparison of possible agenda setters’ bias of
Content analysis is a method of research defined, in brief, as “the systematic
assignment of communication content to categorize according to rules, and the
analysis of relationships involving those categories using statistical methods (Riffe,
Lacy & Fico, 2005, p. 3). Under the consideration of framing theory, researchers are
able to conduct content analysis by measuring clusters of messages also known as
frames to see how these are then incorporated into their audiences’ schemata
(Entman, 1993). Content analysis is important to finding outlines, based on which
scholars and researchers can methodically evaluate news media and its use of
framing. In turn, this allows for the comparison of possible agenda setters’ bias of
For nowadays we have two possible methods to content news analysis –
inductive and deductive. The inductive approach includes examining a news piece
with an exposed vision to effort to disclose the collection of potential frames
(Gamson, 1992). This particular method can identify the amount of possible ways in
which an event can be framed. Although this approach is laborious and usually is
based on minor samples. It also can be difficult to repeat.
This study aims to use a deductive method which assumes predefining
particular frames as textual analytical variables to confirm how these trends appear
in the news pieces. This method can be replicated easily and also can manage with
large samples. Deductive method can easily establish differences in framing between
different media outlets. Follow this approach, it is important to have clear established
ideas of types of frames not to overlook the frames which are not defined.
Discourses have a greater diversity of idea elements, more conflict, and more
inconsistencies than frames (Ferree and Merrill 2000). Ideologies, on the other hand,
are usually conceptualized as complex systems of belief. They are more
encompassing and elaborated than frames and are explicitly normative (Oliver and
Johnston 2000; Westby 2002; Ferree and Merrill 2000; Zald 1996). Frames are
derived from ideologies, but they are also oriented to the strategic demands of
making claims effectively (Westby 2002). So, Oliver and Johnston (2000) note that
pro-life and pro-choice activists subscribe to very different ideologies but have used
an identical frame of individual rights in promoting their opposing positions. Finally,
collective identity is the subjective perception of a collective bond. Some minimal
level of collective identity is usually necessary for the emergence of movements but
once underway, movements devote considerable work to affirming, transforming,
and securing recognition for collective identities (Taylor and Whittier 1992; Polletta
and Jasper 2001).
The content analysis is a technique of objective high-quality and systematic
studying of maintenance of means of communication (D. Jeri, J. Jeri).
The qualitative content analysis is aimed at profound substantial studying of
text material, including, from the point of view of a context in which the allocated
categories are presented. The final conclusions are formulated taking into account
interrelations of substantial elements and their relative importance (rank) here in
structure of the text. Thus, to compare the relation of different actors to a problem
of peaceful settlement, the researcher has to seek not just to allocate the
corresponding concept, but also to define whether his/her perspective is main in
system of the declared positions, options of the connotation, extent of specification,
emotional coloring, etc. Depending on established research problems the qualitative
content analysis can be added with some elements of the comparative content
Contrasting to a quantitative (frequency) type of the content analysis, the
qualitative analysis technique type is focused not on the direct quantitative
measurement of elements of the information’ massif, but on the accounting of a
combination of the quality and quantitative indices characteristic of these elements
(degree of a openness of a statement of a subject, a rank of a certain political concept
at the mention, etc.). The qualitative content analysis is most effective in cases when
definition of the subject purposes of political activity expressed in an obvious or
latent form if it is necessary.
In this regard the researcher should solve a number of problems concerning
development of categories of the analysis, allocation of units of the analysis and
establishment of tallies of the allocated units. Analysis unit — semantic and
qualitative — is that part of contents which is allocated as the element brought under
this or that category. Usually the political (foreign policy) idea, a significant subject
in the international or intra country plan, acts as such unit. It can be expressed in the
text in a word or some steady combination of words. So, for example, when studying
the international problems semantic units internal and external political events can
be included, the persons who were the initiators, estimated judgments of events ("for
— against", "it is favorable — it is unprofitable", etc.) purposes of activity of the
states, parties, leaders, objects of purposeful political activity, ways of achievement
of the purpose (military actions, economic pressure, political influence) and some
other key concepts from the sphere of political life.
When carrying out the directed qualitative content analysis procedure of
methodical justification of criteria of allocation of sampling units, is carried out
rather carefully and in many respects supported with rules from the field of
linguistics. In case of not directed technique option to the forefront in this process
there are rules of logic and the level of subject qualification of the expert who is
carrying out decomposition of the text massif in "manual" or "machine" execution.
Process of the qualitative content analysis consists of three main stages:
1. Data of a large number of text information to final number of the integrated
text blocks – units of value which puts in compliance a code for further processing.
The main units of value are categories, sequences and subjects.
2. Reconstruction of subjective components of a text stream – opinions, views
and proofs of each source of the text. Search of communications between the value
units characterizing a source and conditions of creation of the text by him is for this
3. Formation of conclusions and generalizations by comparison of systems of
To one of examples of the qualitative content analysis can serve carrying out
the research procedure relying on graphic transformation of the text and hierarchical
fixing of elements of maintenance of the text massif. Specifics of its application are
also in allocation of units of the analysis, ways of their classification and that the
role of preliminary hypotheses is minimized, and the analysis is carried out with
opened, i.e. with the unknown result in advance.
At a formulation of analytical conclusions, the combination to traditional
methods of research can take place. Additional opportunities of application of the
content analysis are opened by use of linguistic and psycholinguistic methods.
Thus, the technique of the content analysis allows to expand ideas of real
political processes. The choice of quantitative or qualitative and quantitative option
of its application depends on character of the specific project and qualification of the
researchers. At the same time, it is necessary to consider that qualitative and
quantitative approach demands higher professional qualification and is rather more
In general, it is possible to tell that the content analysis of mass media is a
process of studying and tracking of information coming to mass media;
transformation of the received quantitative material to a qualitative form by means
of classification of messages. This tool defines how key messages, subjects in which
distribution the organization is interested have really gained distribution to mass
media as a result of communication management. Main objective of this method:
studying of documentary information for the purpose of identification of a social
context of the message.
The possibilities of a content analysis method has a wide range of positive
characteristics and advantages: definition of a way of supply of material and the
analysis of the directions prevailing in mass media; definition of emotional coloring,
tone of publications; definition of a rating of leaders, the organizations, trademarks
on mention frequency; definition of the attitude of mass media towards leaders,
organizations, events; concentration of attention of the researcher on those signs of
the text which directly or indirectly testify to a position, a state or intentions of the
The research stages during the content analysis are:
1. preparation of the program of the document analysis
2. selection formation development of a technique of this concrete analysis
3. test (pilotage) of a technique, check of its reliability
4. collecting primary information
5. quantitative processing of collected data
6. interpretation of the received results, conclusions
Method advantage is in an opportunity to avoid influence of the researcher on
the studied object, highly completeness and reliability of the obtained data (materials
are convenient for recheck), and also in a possibility of research of the social and
psychological phenomena in a temporary continuum.
A tendency to view frames as emergent, that is, as constructed in and through
movement work, has been valuable in capturing the dynamic quality of frames but
has discouraged attention to the environmental conditions for frames’ plausibility
and impact. Where scholars have sought to identify influential aspects of the
environment in which framing takes place, they have concentrated more on political
factors than on specifically cultural ones. Certainly, culture is notoriously difficult
to study systematically. But the neglect extends also to how frames are shaped in
interaction with other cultural forms, such as ideology, discourse, and institutional
logics of action.
Most studies are focused on the presence in news of established within the
study frame and its consequences for the auditory’ opinion. The conflict frame, for
example, has been the discussed many times (Capella & Jameson, 1997; Patterson,
1993). The frame of responsibility attribution is also the main point of scientific
discussions (Iyengar, 1991). According to Neuman, Just and Crieger (1992) there
are more established frames in the investigation of U.S. news coverage such as
economic theme, human impact and moral appeal frame.
Majority of recent researchers have recognized the significance of certain
frames in the news by concentrating on their values for the audiences’ interpretation
of events (Capella & Jamieson, 1997; Graber, 1988, 1993; Iyengar, 1987, 1991;
Iyengar & Kinder, 1987; Neuman et al., 1992; Norris, 1995; Patterson, 1993).
According to Pan & Kosicki, framing analyses “expand beyond agenda-setting
research into what people talk or think about examining how they think and talk
about issues in the news” (1993, p. 70). Even though these studies have provided
essential information about the framing effects, there is no established standard set
for content analysis. The consistent set of content analytic indicators is essential to
study news’ development and to compare news, according their different coverage
of political and other topics globally and nationally.
In effective frames, the diagnostic, prognostic, and motivational components
are clearly specified, richly developed, and well-integrated (Snow and Benford
1988; Stoecker 1995). Effective frames also make a compelling case for the
"injustice" of a targeted condition and the likely effectiveness of collective "agency"
in changing that condition. They make clear the "identities" of the contenders,
distinguishing "us" from "them" and depicting antagonists as human decision
makers rather than impersonal forces such as industrialization or the demands of the
market (Gamson 1988; 1992; also, Hunt and Benford 1994; Hunt et al. 1994;
Klandermans 1997). Along with those formal features, finally, frames’ resonance
with their audiences is crucial to their success. Effective frames accord with
available evidence, with people’s experiences, and with familiar stories, values, and
belief systems (Gamson 1988). That is, they are at once empirically credible,
experientially commensurable, and narratively faithful (Snow and Benford 1988;
The research seems to indicate that four issue frames are more common
than others: the conflict frame, the responsibility frame, the tragedy frame (humaninterest frame) and the economic frame (Valkenburg et al, 551). These
complimentary frames will be viewed as a part of the main mobilizing frame. “Thus,
textual analysis interrogates content in its social and cultural context. What is of
interest is the relation of media content to the overall dominant ideology. A textual
analysis answers the question of how ideology is negotiated in the content: in what
ways does the content maintain, reinforce, question, or even defy dominant
ideology” (Fürsich, 2014).
On the different bases allocate different classes of media frames: episodic and
thematic frames (Iyengar, 1991), concrete problematic and patrimonial (De Vreese
et al., 2001), valuable, material, problematic and strategic frames (Lee et al., 2008),
equivalent and emphatically frames (Druckman, 2004). If through episodic supply
the social problems are illustrated in mass media by concrete events, the thematic
context has extremely generalized view. Figuratively speaking, the episodic frame
represents a portrait and thematic frame – a wide panorama. These frames provoke
different attributions. In particular, there is an inevitable consequence of dominant
episodic frames – the weakening of the personal responsibility’ feeling of addressee
for social problems: they willingly attribute this responsibility to heroes of news
even if those are obviously innocent (Iyengar, Kinder, 1987).
Concrete and problem frames “realized” the concrete events and issues, and
patrimonial frames are widely applied to the range themes for a long time and in
different cultural contexts (de Vreese & Elenbaas, 2008, p. 300). According to
Semetko and Valkenburg, in media discourse prevail patrimonial frames of a
"conflict", "human interest" and "economic consequences" (Semetko & Valkenburg,
2000). The first describe situations as a collision of interests of individuals, groups
or social institutes, the second do the accent at the life stories and emotions, and the
third are focused on material benefits or social subjects.
Valuable frames represent events as collision of the moral principles or the
basic values of a subjects, material frames emphasize economic consequences,
problematic frames give rational explanation to the alternatives and strategic frames
make an accent on the egoism of subjects who do not solve social problems and
compete with each other. It is emphasized that in time of political campaigns the
advance of strategic frames promotes an increase of public cynicism concerning
policy (Cappella & Jamieson, 1997).
Our study provides a wider context of frames’ types. It is an extension of
Neuman et al. (1992) and Entman (1991) researches. We also included in our study
the model of Iyengar (1991) who explored how public framed who was responsible
for several social complications after they were presented to “episodic” type of news
(specific events) and “thematic” news (analytical, contextual coverage). According
to this method, news frames can be classified as predominantly “episodic” or
“thematic” (Iyengar, 1993, p. 369). Thematic frames focus on the big picture, for
instance, by providing statistics, expert analysis or other information to help the
public view the event in a broader context.
At the same time same topic as a set of the connected questions can be
described with application of different frames, and the same frame can be used for
lighting different subjects. In number of corresponding verbal and nonverbal
symbolical markers usually include headline, proving examples, references to
sources, photos, schemes, schedules, drawings, collages, musical fragments, case
facts and linguistic metaphors (Pan, Kosicki, 1993; Tankard et al., 1991).
According to Iyengar (1993), "Episodic framing depicts concrete events that
illustrate issues, while thematic framing presents collective or general evidence."
Iyengar found that themes shown episodic reports were less likely to consider society
responsible for the event, and subjects shown thematic reports were less likely to
consider people responsible. In one of the strongest demonstrations of this
phenomenon, persons who viewed stories about poverty that featured homeless or
unemployed people (episodic framing) were much more likely to blame poverty on
individual faults, such as laziness or low education, than were those who instead
viewed stories about high national rates of unemployment or poverty (thematic
framing). Viewers of the thematic frames were more likely to attribute the causes
and solutions to governmental policies and other factors beyond the victim's control.
The great number of episodic frames in television news coverage provides a
one-sided picture of "recurring issues as unrelated events," according to Iyengar.
This "prevents the public from cumulating the evidence toward any logical, ultimate
consequence." Furthermore, the practice makes simpler "complex issues to the level
of anecdotal evidence" and "encourages reasoning by resemblance — people settle
upon causes and treatments that 'fit' the observed problems."
So, in this way, the crash of Malaysian Boeing MH-17 could be named as a
“thematic” frame, because on the moment of the research the investigation still
continues and the number of facts around the topic still grows.
A supplementary analysis of literature about the news’ environment of the
U.S. and Europe (van Dijk, 1998; Semetko, Scammell & Nossiter, 1994; Brants &
Neijens, 1998; emetko, Blumer, Gurevitch & Weaver, 1991) established that all
mentioned frames could be find in the news pieces. The literature proposes us the
chance to use a deductive method to understand the prevalence of news frames. In
detail, we researched the following news frames that have been established in recent
studies: Conflict frame, tragedy frame, responsibility frame.
The frame of a conflict highlights the conflict between groups, individuals or
institutions with a meaning of catching of audience interest. According to Neuman
et al. (1992, pp. 61-62), media shows lots of other issues around one established
frame and that the frame of the conflict was the most common in the minority of
frames in U.S. news they recognized. There are also other reaches that aw attention
to the discussion in the news between political groups which often falls from the
debate to the conflict. Presidential election campaign is often proposed to the
audiences as a type of a conflict (Patterson, 1993). In this study we investigate how
the conflict frame relates to other established frame and what thematic frames are
inside of it.
Conflict and the media is an important topic, as the world grows more
interconnected and international communication has been dramatically affected by
the Internet, satellite dishes and other technological developments. Governments
debate how much freedom the media should have and limits media access,
particularly during a major military conflict. Opposing sides have learned how to
manipulate their image and use the media to gain international support and spur
action, such as military and humanitarian aid.
Conflict is not a new field in media studies. For the most cases, the media
have an assigned interest in conflict. Various models of news production cast
diverse roles for the media in covering conflict issues. Some of these roles include
treating the press as an unbiased contributor that neither protects nor attacks the
status quo. The media also serve as gatekeepers to process information, act as
watchdogs to protect the community, and function as mediators to build agreement
and manage community pressures. Even though the type of role that the media plays
depends on specific disagreements, reporters and editors are active agents who aid
in classifying stakeholders, forming the issues in particular ways, and defining social
Karlberg argues that emotion has a place, but conflicting ideas, values and
interests should be presented in a way that allows for clear and critical examination.
That would better allow opposing groups to learn about and better understand each
other’s outlooks, possibly leading to a solution or peaceful resolution. “Journalists
would do well to focus less on the surface expressions of conflicts and more on their
underlying causes.” (p. 24)
Conflict is also a type of media framing that is employed in the production of
news. Framing refers to the ways that newsmakers cast stories, highlight what is
figure and ground, and impute meaning and motives. "Figure" is what takes center
stage in how one sees a situation, while elements that form "ground" fall to the
background or the periphery of a situation. Aspects of a story that become figure
often effect how newsmakers cast the definition of an issue, problem, or event.
News organizations, driven by competition and time and space constraints,
may be on the “lookout for colorful and punchy verbal and visual material with
which to enliven a story.”(Nelson, Clawson and Oxley, 1997, p. 568) In a conflict,
one group may allow more access, provide better quotes or deliver information in a
more organized, accurate and timely fashion.
Framing a situation as a conflict highlights incompatibilities, disagreements,
or oppositional tensions between individuals, groups, and institutions. In the U.S.,
conflict is one of the most commonly used media frames in coverage of politics and
crime, second to a responsibility frame.3 A responsibility frame focuses on what or
who was responsible for the problem, who should alleviate it, and what type of action
is needed to address it.
Wolfsfeld (1997) says "the media serve as public interpreters of events and as
symbolic arenas for ideological struggle between antagonists" (p. 54) and it uses
certain routine frames to cover political conflicts, based on its definition of what
makes a good story. He argues three major elements contribute to the construction
of media frames of conflict: the nature of the information and events being
processed; the need to create a good news story; and the need to create a story
resonating politically within a particular culture. (p. 41) According to Wolfsfeld,
"the construction of media frames of conflict is an interactive process in which the
press attempts to find a narrative fit between incoming information and existing
media frames.’’ (p. 54)
The responsibility frame presents an event in a way to attribute responsibility
to the government or to the group or to a person. In terms of a conflict the
responsibility frame is necessary frame. It shapes the public understanding of who
is responsible for the causing and solving of an issue (Iyengar, 1987). Since electoral
responsibility is the basis of representative democracy, the community must be able
to establish who is responsible for social issues, Iyengar argues: “yet the news media
systematically filter the issues and deflect blame from the establishment by framing
the news as "only a passing parade of specific events, a 'context of no context"
During the first stage of crisis, when the catastrophe strikes, journalists,
officials and other actors rush to the scene (Graber, 1980, p. 229). Since media is the
prime source, not only for the general public, but also for the public officials
concerned with the crisis, its key roles are to describe what has been happened and
to help coordinate the relief work. Its peak priority is to get accurate and unbiased
information, which, even if it is bad news, relieves doubt and calms people. If the
news shows people the sense that authorities cope correctly with the disaster, this is
reassuring (p. 233-234).
For example, scenes of plane crashes become less terrifying if police,
firefighters, or other government officials are on the scene. In the second stage,
media coverage of events focuses on making sense out of the situation. Plans are
formulated and implemented to address the needs of the victims and to repair the
damage. Graber suggested that the third stage overlaps with the first two.
In an effort to provide context, the role of media is to place the crisis in a
larger, longer-term perception. A major mission is to avoid panic, to support people,
to stay calm, and to give direction for proper actions. In addition, Ungar’s research
indicates that media can shift framing strategies from presenting frightening
information to a containment or calming approach when “dread-inspiring events are
developing in unpredictable and potentially threatening ways” (Ungar, 1998, p.36).
Our research is an exploratory investigation of MH-17 media coverage. In
this study we tried to establish one main frame for the whole issue. Making a start
from Entman (1993) and Gamson (1991) theories in our first research for the
competition of research articles ZDES (see p. 6), we came to the understanding that
for Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 catastrophe the main role plays mobilizing
frame. As for those event we investigated only the most intensive period after the
crash of MH-17 (17 July – 20 July 2014), it is important to check our hypothesis in
comparing other articles on the issue. For instance, we predicted that the mobilizing
frame still will be the dominant frame, the sub frames will be a frame of a conflict
and a frame of a tragedy. According to the theory about mobilizing frames, we
propose that inside of the stories with this leading frame we will find the moral
attribution, human factor and the whole story will be built around the topic of a
political conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In other type of the news stories (if
there will be such stories), we predict to find technical, economical and moral sub
frames. What is need to be said also is that these sub frames are usually also accrued
when the main topic is the conflict. So, for instance, our research questions are
proved and we will investigate the articles according to their frame types: conflict
or tragedy with all the consequences for each frames and their dominant frames.
To support our theory, according to Ryan, if an authority is acting in a
usual, unexceptionable manner, the original legitimating frame is taken for granted.
But frames are vulnerable. Sometimes actions or events occur that break the
hegemony of the legitimating frame. If people are going to resist authority, they need
to adopt an alternative mobilizing frame as a context for what is happenings
redefinition that questions observance. “A mobilizing frame pushes audiences to see
problems not as individual but as collective. The definition of the issue stresses its
social character, responsibility for dealing with the issue is collective; and the
solution happens on a structural level” (Ryan, 1991). Note that a demobilizing frame
does the reverse, making problems ever more individual (McAdam 1982: 52).
Mobilizing frames typically have three characteristics (Ryan 1991: 70).
Collective defining of the issue, the responsibility and the solution.
Conflict-oriented. The oppositions ‘us’ and ‘them’ are defined properly.
The moral appeal is seen clear: the situation is controversial to the social
norms and is unfair.
Exploring the blaming frame inside the mobilizing frame, it is important to
sea who does its media attribute responsibility for this negative issue and what are
the proposed solutions during the time of catastrophe’ investigation.
We are looking for responsibility framing in the idea “Russia blames U.S.”
and “U.S. blames Russia” frame as well as mentioning specific people/institutions
and their actions or lack of them. A historical institutional approach serves as a
contextualizing tool to locate all of these discursive struggles and specific discursive
opportunities for different actors-speakers.
The media uses different frames in its effort to affect change. In crisis
reporting, the attribution of responsibility is logical in trying to understand the issues
at play and how to solve the issues being covered. “The two principal types of
attributions correspond to causal and treatment responsibility. Causal responsibility
concerns the origin of a problem, while treatment responsibility focuses on who or
what has the ability to alleviate the problem” (Iyengar, 1996). Thus, we present a
research, based on attribution theory, of responsibility judgment for negative events.
An analysis of the thematic context of responsibility in two opposite online
newspapers BBC and RT is important to explain the necessity of a comparative
approach to the issue of responsibility attribution in the two media systems and in
3.2. Research design
Our theoretical interest was to compare the news frames from different
sources and to consider the important differences between them in news coverage
on the one issue. Thus, one of our research questions was:
RQ1: Who blaming whom?
The second aim of this study was to establish main frames and to look at by
what thematic frames dominant frames are supported, and to consider the tone of the
news pieces. Our second research question was:
RQ2: How do media frame an airplane crash – as a tragedy or as a conflict?
To see whether the main mobilizing frame is dominant during the whole
investigated period it is necessary to answer our third research question:
RQ3: Does the main mobilizing frame changes during the period from 17 July
2014 till 8 March 2016?
Based on the literature and previous researches, the hypothesis proposed are
H1: The Malaysian airplane crash is seen by RT as a conflict and by BBC as
H2: RT is blaming Ukraine, BBC is objective.
H3: Mobilizing frame is supported by RT through the whole period of
coverage, BBC changes its main frame from mobilizing to the tragedy.
The employed methodology
As a material of research the English-language texts of electronic articles
published during the period from 17 July 2014 till 8 March 2016 served BBC Today
and the Russian international multilingual information TV company RT (earlier –
Russia Today) were selected. The 2 years’ timeslot was chosen because of the broad
period of investigation and the actuality of the issue. The days from 17 July 2014 till
20 July are suggested the main period to explore as the period of the most intensive
covering of an event and active promotion of versions about the causes of accident.
Also the three days’ coverage was chosen because on July 20 the OSCE commission
was allowed to start the investigation (see p. 4). Selection of the data is limited
because the days of publication in BBC and RT do not always coincide. For today 8
March 2016 is the last day of publication about the issue in RT. In this research paper
we tried to compare the most important data published during the days according
our timeline (p. 5). We establish the special structure, according the most important
days in investigation of an issue and also the days of summits one and second in
Minsk. The news articles were analyzed gradually, from 17th July till 8th March.
Firstly were examined news stories from RT, then from BBC.
During research were analyzed 100 articles. We examined gradually headline,
lead paragraph and the article itself in every case. Due to time constraints, this study
was limited to only looking at this amount of articles and due to the different amount
of published news pieces in RT and BBC. If given more time, the researcher would
have analyzed more stories with a broader time frame and more news sources. The
purpose of this data collection is to answer our research questions. Data is taken
from BBC news official web site and RT official web site. Articles were categorized
by length — small (0-400 words); medium (401-800 words); long (801- 1,200
words) — tone (positive, negative or neutral), and dominant frames, which varied
depending on source of media.
It is known that after falling of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 two
versions of an event were put forward practically at one time: the Ukrainian part and
some western countries accused of an air crash of rebels of Donbas and indirectly
Russia, them supporting; which, in turn, assumed that the Ukrainian military are
guilty (see p. 3). For research problems it was represented necessary to compare
options of covering of the same event in the editions arguing the polar points of
The purpose of this paper is to analyze news articles according to its predicted
mobilized frame. The tone, dominant frames and themes represented will be also
analyzed. These three categories were grouped together because they all overlap and
show a relationship. The categorization of frames came directly from the literature
review and were supported by news stories.
The main points of our analysis were finding a source of attribution in articles
from leading English-language online publication and establish main frames within
the episodic frames in the articles. The analysis will be the use of negative words in
responsibility attribution/type of responsibility attribution using a deductive
approach by defining who is attributing responsibility, who is the responsibility
attributed and is the language (positive or negative) in online news sources.
The MH-17 crash and its coverage: the ‘blame game’ by RT and BBC
§4. The frames in news coverage of the MH-17 crash
To achieve in our research a result it is necessary to follow the stages of the
article’ investigation. Firstly, we will collect the data from both sources gradually
and according to our timeline (p. 24). Secondly, we will analyze the articles one by
one regarding the establishment of the main mobilizing frame and its predicted
change through the stories. Thirdly, we will reveal the conflict and tragedy frames
to look at how different online sources are framing the crash of Malaysian Airlines
Boeing MH-17. Fourthly, we will see what episodic frames support the dominant
frame of a conflict to make a final decision about the main theme of the articles,
according our research theory, after all if there is a dominant frame of a conflict,
there should be episodic technical and economical frames. Talking about a frame of
a tragedy we will establish another episodic frames – human interest frame and
morality frame. Finally, we will answer on our research question on the attribution
of responsibility and will define who blames whom according to BBC news and
Our main conclusions are stated below. During the investigation of chosen
articles were established two main frames – the frame of a conflict and the frame of
a tragedy. The frame of a conflict highlighted the main mobilizing frame with all the
consequences for this type of framing. So, for instance, reading the articles about
airplane crash highlighted several different support frames for the conflict frame:
“the economy”, “the technology”. In terms of mobilizing frame, the attribution of
responsibility is seen by media as a very important topic. The frame of a tragedy can
play a role of a support frame to a conflict frame but not as a dominant frame.
The main frame which was established for most of the articles is a mobilizing
frame as it was predicted. Secondary / Complementary frames are: responsibility,
moral appeal, crisis. After determining these, the key words, phrases and concepts
that show how these themes were framed, were established. This process was
repeated for every news article. As Levin (2005) wrote, “The reason themes are
taken as a measure of the presence of frames is the difficulty of finding a completely
developed frame in a single press release. Frames are built across a series of news
media articles, and not all elements are present in any single article” (p. 89)
4.1. The mobilization frame and its role in the coverage of the MH-17 crash
To start to talk about the mobilizing frame we need to establish a context and
a perspective of the both media sources, accordingly their views on the issue. So,
how do media call the crash of Malaysian Boeing MH-17 we can see in the Table
The cited version are unique, not-cited are repetitive. Categories with
ideological-political components – “terrorist attack” appeared several times. Tone
of BBC is mostly menacing, but in articles about victims – neutral. Tone of RT:
sarcastic, reproaching, haughty, blaming.
“shooting down the plane with a
a “provocation by the Ukrainian missile”
“this terrible tragedy”
"act of terrorism"
"looks like it may be a terrible
“loss of almost 300 people”
“evidence of how the conflict in
the tragic accident
First of all let us say that from the fist research step in establishing of the
names of the issue the frame of a tragedy doesn’t matter anymore. We predicted that
BBC will cover the issue with more morality in the stories, being balanced and
human-being. However, our predictions now can be fall into Russia Today
The mobilizing frame is practically the same in news pieces of both sources.
This frame doesn’t give an opportunity to look at the position of editorial office.
However, this is the frame that talk about universal values and also allows these
media to keep orientation to the qualitative journalism.
According to the theory about mobilizing frames, we propose that inside of
the stories with this leading frame we will find the moral attribution, human factor
and the whole story will be built around the topic of a political conflict between
Ukraine and Russia.
Mobilizing frames typically have three characteristics (Ryan 1991: 70).
Collective defining of the issue, the responsibility and the solution.
Conflict-oriented. The oppositions ‘us’ and ‘them’ are defined properly.
The moral appeal is seen clear: the situation is controversial to the social
norms and is unfair.
It seems that the understanding of RT that this issue was a tragedy came after
a year after the crash.
The conflict frame is the great dominant frame during the whole period of
publishing articles about the issue. However, the destinations of the conflict were
somehow reoriented during years. For the first three months it was just the political
conflict between Ukraine and Russia. After that some articles about victims started
to appear. And then after the official investigation has been started, Russia Today
started a new type of a covered conflict between “us” and “them” again, but in
another perspective. It was a conflict between Russia and its abilities as a powerful
country to lead an investigation, and others who were doing the exact investigation.
After the commission told the results of investigation, Russia Today started to blame
the commission on the basis of incorrected results and speculation. If Russia Today
spoke about victims, there also was an information that Russia would have made a
lot for answering questions and other countries are ting wrong and do not think about
victims and their families.
Russia Today tries to pose clear facts and be stable but with these phrases such
“These official statements and media coverage come as no surprise to us. However,
let’s face the facts” it loses the balance.
According to the conflict around the investigation process, we can see all of
the parts of mobilizing frame, including blame attribution and ‘them’ and ‘us’
perspective. The Russian Foreign Ministry challenged the results of the Dutch
report, claiming that the investigation team “did not answer” the Russian invitation
to come to Russia and study the evidence that the Russian side was offering into the
causes of the crash.
It was stated that “progress towards justice must be seen”. So far, have seen
nothing. Our partners preferred to conduct a vote that is impossible to explain by
any other motive than seeking a fresh pretext for pointing a finger at Russia. It is
only to be regretted that the unity and authority of the Security Council has once
again become hostage to political ambitions having nothing to do with either justice
or a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine in its entirety. For its part, Russia
will continue to seek both.
According to Russia Today, Russia was the first state to demand a full and
independent investigation of this abhorrent crime. ‘We’ did everything to ensure the
early adoption of Security Council Resolution 2166 that not only insisted on a proper
investigation, but also, at Russia’s initiative, provided for an immediate ceasefire at
the crash site. The Russian Defense Ministry has been the ‘only one’ among its
counterparts to publish its satellite data relevant for establishing the truth.
On March 2016 Robert van Heyningen who lost his brother, sister-in-law, and
a nephew overnight in the catastrophe, told RT about his frustration over the
investigation and its slow pace. In this article it seems that Russia supports Dutch
people like they are the ones who can make it. Robert tells: “They should operate
more quickly and the time that has passed since the plane went down… it’s a long
time, it is too long and I would be more satisfied if the investigation team had
published their conclusions,” he said, lamenting the lack of publicly available details
about the crash, which have not even been shared with the victims’ families.“For
me, and for my wife as well, the main goal is to know the truth about what
happened,” van Heyningen stressed.
So, in the articles of Russia Today everybody is waiting for the truth and RT
itself also. Talking about victims, RT chose the good way to introduce the whole
country in words of one person, Jules Dresme, a local pastor who knows all of the
relatives of the victims from Hilversum, told RT that many already do not believe
they will ever learn the truth:“Everybody has a conviction, that it is really… perhaps
impossible to find out what the truth it. We don’t hear very much. We hear it in the
paper, we see it on television but what is really going on at the highest level…we
wait, we have no idea,” said the pastor.
The whole process of news framing the airplane crash Malaysian Airlines
Boeing MH-17 in RT could be named by one sentence of the ministry of defense:
“If Russia is behind MH17 crash, where’s the evidence?”
The downing of MH-17 on July 17, 2014 was one of the lowest points of the
armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which claimed sovereignty after an armed coup
in Kiev. “Rebel forces there have been fighting Ukrainian forces that were sent to
the region as part of a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” by the new Kiev
authorities. Immediately following the tragic event, several Western countries
claimed to have irrefutable evidence of Russia’s complicity in downing the plane.
However, no evidence of Russian involvement has so far been published”. In these
words, Russia Today is like waiting for the time when somebody will find
provocative findings about the country.
On August 1, 2015 RT is again the one who can save the world. “After the
failure of the hastily arranged UN Security Council vote on a resolution that hadn’t
been properly debated, Russia is once again being accused of creating obstacles to
justice for the victims of the MH-17 disaster”.
It looks also like Russia Today is a political actor in this crisis situation who
acts and thinks as a person: “We have been calling upon the Security Council to
remain actively involved in the investigation by, for instance, inviting the SecretaryGeneral to appoint a special envoy for MH-17 and providing the Council with wideranging proposals as to how it could help the investigation in the most effective way.
Finally, we introduced an alternative draft resolution that would encourage the
comprehensively, rather than politicize the matter further by creating an
unprecedented tribunal that would have to operate under immense political
On 27 October 2014 Russia Today writes very objective and unbiased. The
article looks just an ordinary news piece without blaming attribution, conflict tone
and judgements. “Three months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was brought
down over Ukraine, there are still no definitive answers about what caused the
tragedy. Civil conflict in the area prevented international experts from conducting a
full and thorough investigation. The wreckage should have been collected and
scrupulously re-assembled to identify all the damage, but this standard investigative
procedure was never carried out. Until that’s done, evidence can only be gleaned
from pictures of the debris, the flight recorders (black boxes) and eye-witnesses
testimonies. This may be enough to help build a picture of what really happened to
the aircraft, whether a rocket fired from the ground or a military jet fired on the
19 January RT that was being biased practically all the time before it wrote a
headline “‘Biased, low quality, full of omissions’: Russia launches fresh attack on
Dutch MH-17 report”. In this article a senior Russian aviation official has presented
new criticisms of the Dutch Safety Board’s (DSB) handling of the MH-17
investigation and “low quality of its “vague” final report on the crash in Ukrainian
skies, which killed 298 people in July 2014”. This statement looks very controversial
if to talk about the tone, not sorry at all, putting in a frase about victims the phrase
about low quality. The frame of morality, by the way, is absent in this online news
It is interesting that the word ‘bias’ appear second time instead of blaming
somebody. It could be seen as a new method of blaming attribution or the whole
denial of Russian involvement in the causes of an issue“Russia would again like to
draw attention to the bias of the DSB, the insufficient quality of the final report, and
the omissions of important facts about the investigation by the Dutch side,” wrote
the deputy head of the Russian aviation agency Rosavia, Oleg Storchevoy, in a
column that appeared in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant on Tuesday.
Although the report, presented in October 2015, did not have the remit to
apportion blame, it did conclude that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 was
brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile, and in public statements the DSB
president Tjibbe Joustra has suggested it was fired from territories controlled by the
anti-Kiev rebels. Moscow has rejected these claims, while the Buk manufacturer
Almaz-Antey has unveiled an alternative report and results of full-scale experiment,
which showed that an outdated model of one of its rockets, used by Kiev’s forces,
was likely to blame.
On 15 Oct 2015 RT stated that “using tragic MH-17 crash as ‘political
football’ is shameful”. And then we came again to the not blaming but shaming
frame: “There are only a few things in our world capable of uniting humanity
regardless of national, political, religious, or ideological differences. One of them is
a sense of grief over the downing of a passenger aircraft over a conflict zone and the
loss of all 298 passengers and crew on board. The mere thought of the terror involved
in such a scenario leaves every person with a beating heart stricken with sorrow,
which, for the families and relatives of the victims is undoubtedly magnified many
It is true that this crash “has been turned into a geopolitical football by
politicians in the West and certain voices within the Western media, asserting the
right to put Russia in the dock on the prior assumption that one country of 144
million people is the fount of all evil in the world” but it is also true that RT was also
involved in this process.
To finalize we can use the words from RT story “This is worse than derisory;
it is beneath contempt”.
A lot of controversial headlines talks from themselves, establishing one main
idea that Russia is not in charge: ‘A year without truth’: MH-17 relatives,
independent investigators want ‘facts not propaganda’,“We want the facts, we don’t
want propaganda,” acting “not a biased country like the Netherlands.”
In the news articles of BBC information is practically the same as in RT. Both
sides in Ukraine's civil conflict accused each other of shooting down the plane with
a missile. In BBC news coverage it seems that US and Ukraine come together to
blame: “US and Ukrainian officials said they believed the plane had been brought
down by a missile”. Besides, “Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukraine
government for restarting military operations in the area, where it is trying to regain
control from pro-Russian rebels.”
In BBC news article “The Ukrainian authorities seem in no doubt as to what
has happened” there is information about the cause of an incident, supported with a
citation of Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin “had intercepted phone conversations
that proved the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists”. Ukraine has also
accused the rebels of trying to destroy evidence of "international crimes" at the crash
To sum up, “The two sides in Ukraine's civil conflict which broke out earlier
this year have accused each other of shooting down the jet with a missile. Ukraine
accuses Russia of aiding and arming rebels seeking closer ties to Moscow”.
The dominant conflict frame in Russia Today accordingly to the investigated
articles is, of course, the most important and talked theme: “So far no official
explanation has been given as to the unusual flight path. But a conflict between
Russia and Ukraine over the airspace above Crimea may have played a role”. So, in
reporting there are several conflicts: between US-Russia, Ukraine-Russia, KievDonbass.
The zone of Donetsk Republic is named “unsafe”, “conflict-gripped
neighboring country”, the place which “should be avoided by International airlines
including Lufthansa, Aeroflot, Transaero, Virgin, and Turkish Airlines”, “the scene
of heavy fighting between government troops and the forces of the opposition”.
Also in terms of conflict there is a very high level of mistrust between actors
included in the conflict: “Boroday, the PM of Donetsk Republic said that the found
items “cannot be given” to Kiev representatives since in that case they could possibly
damage them to “falsify the results [of the recordings].” / “Ukrainian Deputy Prime
Minister Vladimir Groysman said that Kiev had suspected that the boxes were in
rebels’ hands for several days”.
In BBC news the theme of a conflict is highlighted in BBC by threats: “If it
does turn out that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 was shot down by the
separatists - with weaponry supplied by Moscow - then it could significantly alter
the terms of the whole debate surrounding the Ukraine crisis”,”But if Russia in any
way had a hand in this tragedy then the pressure - especially on the Europeans - for
much tougher sanctions will only grow”, “But equally Russian President Vladimir
Putin seems to have no clear game-plan as to what the end-state should be”, “UK
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the "world's eyes" were now on Russia to
make sure it delivered for the victims”, "The world's eyes will be on Russia to see if
she delivers on her obligations in the next couple of hours.", “Britain, along with
other EU countries and the US, is coordinating a massive campaign of diplomatic
pressure on Moscow to persuade President Putin to assist with the recovery of bodies
and evidence from the site”.
In news stories “the result of a crash” turns into “the crisis in Ukraine”: The
British government has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council
to discuss the crisis in Ukraine as a result of the crash.
Second sign to the “terrorism” serve a citation from the head of the Russian
Air Traffic Controllers' Union, Sergei Kovalyov "In order to bring down an airplane
from an altitude of 10,000m, you need to have very serious weapons…. missiles,"
he said. "It's either a mistake or a terrorist act." BBC reported also that “other airlines
have announced they are now avoiding eastern Ukraine”.
On 18th “The crash of Malaysian airliner MH17 in eastern Ukraine has raised
questions about which conflict zones commercial jets will fly over”. On 20th “the
BBC looks at previous incidents involving passenger planes.
In BBC it is more common to name a situation not a ‘situation’ but a
‘conflict’: ”Both sides in Ukraine's civil conflict accused each other of shooting
down the plane with a missile. It is still not clear why the plane came down”. And
the first article about the crash is named “Malaysia jet crashes in east Ukraine
Moral appeal, the secondary frame to the mobilizing frame is more common
for BBC, not for Russia Today articles.
The first governmental source who is cited is Ukranian President Poroshenko
who told: ““We don’t rule out that this plane was shot down and stress that Ukrainian
forces did not fulfill any actions targeting in the air”. Sorry and support from
Ukrainian site is absent.
From Russian site there is more blame than condolence; Mr. Putin told:
“This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace on this land, if military
action in the southeast of Ukraine had not been resumed,” “We must do everything
in our power that an objective picture of what happened goes public in our
community, in Ukraine and all over the world,” Putin said as he expressed his
condolences to the families of victims” – in seems that Putin here is like a person
who is responsible for everything and will ‘save’ the whole world. The collective
defining of the issue is obvious here. The ‘tragedy’ itself is said to be a ‘cause’ of
“the urgent need for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Ukraine”.
Journalists from the UK and the USA (and other NATO-aligned
countries) regularly accuse the Russian press of being a propaganda tool for the
Kremlin the scene of intensive battles between Ukrainian troops and local militias
defying Kiev’s rule. As a mediator in this difficult situation China and Argentina
go ahead in the text: they warned against a “blame game” and called for prudence
until the international investigation is completed. China has also called on world
leaders not to jump to conclusions, saying that it will only “increase regional tensions
and will not contribute to the search for the truth".
The crash “underscores that it is time for peace and security to be restored
in Ukraine,” Obama said in a statement on Friday. “This should snap everybody’s
head to attention and make sure we don’t have time for propaganda and we don’t
have time for games.”
It is also obvious that there was nobody in the area of a tragedy who could
support and help. Only on 19th July the first viewer’s opinion came. “I’ve been
working in this coalmine for 40 years. And now I just want to help, that's all. Our
own government is bombing us”. It seems that the little and poor viewer came to the
very terrific arena to help, because nobody except him could support his country.
Other local residents were among those sharing the shock and burden of having to
deal with the bodies, and many adorned the site of the crash with flowers only on
Saturday: “Representatives of Donetsk People's Republic have headed to the scene
of the plane search.”
According to BBC, the “moral” theme appear only once when “Malaysian
Prime Minister Najib Razak said "no stone will be left unturned" in the investigation
into what happened”. He said: "Today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in
Honestly, there are a lot of articles on a tragedy theme in BBC. However, all
of them turns to a conflict or blaming attribution frame inside of human stories or
interviews. For example, “Some feel as though their children are being used as
propaganda tools in Russian President Vladimir Putin's conflict”. This statement
sign how the catastrophically this issue is covered and is brought to the audiences.
This statement is the direct responsibility attribution and looks like a personal
conflict of Mr. Putin.
Thus, on the main mobilizing frame’ level both of investigated media sources
are oriented to the qualitative journalism. However, episodic frames in contrary to
the dominant frames give us an opportunity to judge about the position of an editorial
office in the conflict.
Journalists use framing as a way to organize a lot of information into a
coherent story. Research has also found that the way a conflict is framed can
influence the public opinion of readers. Journalists are constantly making choices
about what they include and omit from a story in terms of source and language used.
Using “peace journalism” ways of framing stories may help solve, deescalate or at
least not further inflame a conflict.
If reporters can have an influence on public opinion and foreign policy, then
perhaps they have even more of a responsibility to the public to provide the best and
most complete coverage they can. Of course, they may need to balance this with the
tough realities of working in a foreign war zone. Still, journalists can often go
beyond traditional journalistic practices and look at implementing alternative ideas
and frames, including those related to theories of peace journalism and conflict
War reporting has changed radically in the past century and it is important for
journalists to examine their role and effect on a conflict. Most people don’t
personally witness the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 catastrophe in Donetsk
nor have the entire historical and cultural context they need to fully understand the
situation there, so journalists serve as their eyes and ears.
However, if the media could play a constructive role in conflict, without
abandoning traditional notions of fairness, independence, balance and accuracy, it
could be a positive thing for Russia and the world. There are some journalists who
believe that the media can be a powerful force in fostering understanding between
people and assisting in conflict resolution in their coverage without sacrificing
journalistic principles and ethics. If there is a clear way to practice peace journalism
and some journalists are indeed doing it, perhaps their techniques can be shared with
4.2. Secondary frames: reconstruction for RT and BBC
Responsibility attribution frame for RT
The Responsibility attribution frame in Russia Today in the articles looks like
“hot potato”, when nobody wants to talk about a tragedy – but telling that it is
responsibility of no one. Nobody wants to be responsible for the incident: “both Kiev
and the opposition deny involvement”, “No one has claimed responsibility for the
act”, “it is unclear who fired the missile or where it was fired from”. The part of
responsibility attribution is the main part of mobilizing frame.
In time when groups that are fighting Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine have
rejected any involvement in the incident, Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed
that according to its information Ukraine had deployed several Buk systems with at
least 27 missile launchers in the Donetsk region. The Donetsk People’s Republic
claims its self-defense forces simply don’t have such military equipment: “We have
only MANPADs” – is the leading justification from the Ukrainian side, “We stress
that the armed forces of Ukraine did not carry out any action to destroy targets in the
Russia’s military also says none of its military planes have been flying close
to the Russia and according to this President of Russia told: “Ukraine should bear
responsibility for Malaysian airliner tragedy”.
According to experts’ citations, “Chances are high that the Malaysian plane
was really downed by the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense”. Pilot and aviation expert
Yury Karash told RT: “Let us recall how a Ukrainian missile downed a Russian TU154 aircraft ten years ago. I can’t completely exclude the possibility the Boeing-777
was also hit by a missile.” The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAN), a
UN watchdog, considers the airspace over the region part of Ukraine’s national
traffic control responsibility: “the carrier could have been advised by Ukrainian
traffic control to divert the flight further north”. “As we see it, it is necessary to
investigate not only the crash itself but also how Ukraine's aviation authorities
performed their professional duties,” Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly
Churkin, Russia’s envoy said ensuring the security of civilian aviation in a state's
airspace is the responsibility of the state.
The claims were denied by the representatives of the Donetsk People’s
Republic, saying that it’s the Ukrainian military, which destroyed the aircraft.
Despite no clear understanding of what happened in the sky over eastern Ukraine
yet, Kiev and Washington rushed to blame anti-Kiev militias. Kiev officials and
opposition fighting in the region blamed the incident on each other.
One of the responsibilities’ version is that “the US-made aircraft disappeared
off the radars”. So it could be read as it is US fault that they made such an aircraft.
Also an interesting point is that it seems that Putin should be responsible for
an ‘incident’: “Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling almost the same route
as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 298”.
Both Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian self-defense forces deny responsibility
and are trading blame. Only people from Donetsk ask for someone who will be
responsible: “We are interested in the most comprehensive and objective
investigation,” the PM of Republic Aleksandr Boroday said. “But we don't feel like
there is enthusiasm among the international community and experts. Several dozen
experts are currently in Kiev. Can they please come here faster? We are surprised
and frankly angered that we have to keep the area untouched while we are waiting
for them for so long”.
A very intensive coverage in Russia Today of the issue was in the period from
the day of a tragedy till September 2014 (The first Minsk negotiations).
During several months the tone of Russia Today was sarcastic, blaming, rude
and after September 2014 it becomes very intimate, sorry and praying. After the
Second Minsk negotiations, Russia Today have started the campaign about another
Boeing MH 370 that was disappeared in March 2014: “Anti-Russia propaganda over
Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 was bad enough. Now one CNN aviation analyst is
blaming Russia for the missing MH370 plane as well – and the Western press is
eating it up.”. Russia Today blames itself in a sarcastic way as a true ‘victim’ of the
issue: “Russia has so far been the only nation to release evidence related to the MH17
When asked about evidence of these charges, the West offered none. And after
the Russian military released its own findings about MH-17, Western coverage of
the shoot down abruptly fell silent. News that the Kiev government actually signed
a non-disclosure agreement with the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia in early
August, reserving the right to gag any revelations in the MH-17 investigation, did
not fit the “blame Russia” narrative – so it was ignored.
The attribution of responsibility is very clear in all of the Russia Today news
pieces. It is very stable and is going from the first article and till the end. Russia
Today is confident that U.S. should be responsible for the catastrophe and for the
outgoing investigation. Also U.S. should be responsible for the Ukrainian crisis.
Russia Today acts like an observer and the judge. RT also once tried to blame Israel
in one of the article dated 16 July 2015, talking about Israeli-made air-to-air missile
may have downed MH-17 – report.
Also RT tries to impute the blame on Germans on 27 April 2015: “The
German authorities were aware of the risks of flying over war-torn eastern Ukraine
before Malaysian flight MH-17 was shot down last July, but failed to inform local
air carriers of the danger, media reports claim”.
The West and the Ukrainian government in Kiev had already claimed that anti
Kiev rebel forces and Russia were responsible before the smoke from the wreckage
had cleared, eager to apportion blame from the outset rather than await any
investigation or attempt to get to the truth of the matter. However, for example, BUK
manufacturer says “Russian-made air defenses ‘absolutely’ not involved in MH17
This is an interesting fact that BBC, in contrary to Russia Today, attributes
the responsibility very personally, direct to the Russian President: "Thanks a lot, Mr
Putin, rebels and leaders of the Ukrainian government, for killing my sweet and only
child. Suddenly she is not there any more. Shot out of the sky in a strange country
where a war is going on." Despite the fact that on 18 August, 2014 BBC stopped
short of blaming the group in control of parts of eastern Ukraine. “Russia may,
however, avoid the blame. And if it does, then the onus for the crime, and the
responsibility, will be on others. And Vladimir Putin will have dodged that bullet,
too”. It is challenging that BBC blames very directly, without arguing. Being biased
like a RT they just don’t give a chance to the independent investigation inside the
stories. The strategy of BBC from the one side looks very neutral, official and
independent but from the other side – childish, comic and very biased.
Table 2. Whom to blame?
a professional military force
the state Ukraine
Ukraine’s national traffic control
Tragedy frame for BBC
Exploring the tragedy frame, we can argue that this is not the main separate
frame but it is the support frame inside of a conflict frame.
In the first article for the topic there is nothing more than “There were
reportedly 283 people and 15 crew members on board the Boeing- MH-17 plane,
who reportedly all died in the crash”.
On 18th July the first reason and the last one about a tragedy came: “The
majority of the passengers of the ill-fated flight, which was apparently shot down
over the war zone in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, were from the Netherlands”.
On 19th BBC firstly reported about victims: “passengers that have been
identified”, “All 10 British victims believed to have been on board have now been
identified”. On other days the stories of victims appear.
As a part of ‘support’ BBC is telling about investigation process: “Six UK
air accident investigators have been sent to the region and experts from the
Metropolitan Police are due to arrive in Ukraine on Sunday to assist with identifying
and recovering the bodies of those killed.”, “Dutch investigators have arrived in
Torez in Ukraine, where the remains of victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash
are being stored”.
The first who is cited in RT saying something about victims is Sergey
Kavtaradze, special representative for the prime minister of the Donetsk People’s
Republic: “Kavtaradze also expressed condolences to the relatives of all of those
who lost their lives in the tragedy”. So, it could be said that in times of a conflict
there is a lack of support from governmental officials, neither from Ukraine, nor
from Russia. Besides, secondly on 18th July Russian president Putin made a
statement, “… came after he contacted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to express
condolences over the deaths of his fellow citizens in the disaster”. At the same time
he also confirmed that at least one American, Quinn Lucas Shanzmen, was killed on
board the plane.
On 19 July the first article about viewers appeared. Witnesses of MH-17
crash tell their stories in several sentences. It is interesting that the focus of this
article is how citizens of Donetsk live after a tragedy and how this event influenced
on their lives: “Marina says that now she is very afraid to go outside and since the
accident she “didn't step away from her courtyard." There is nothing about victims,
this article talks only about inconvenienced way of live in such a conflicted region.
Only on 20th July when the territory of crash became accessible to the
investigation, the first information about victims appear. However, nothing about
people who died – only about “body collection”: “What we see here is that there is
certain security as you witnessed yourself at the perimeter, and that there is now also
work being done on the bodies, they are being collected, being brought to the road,”
Alexander Hug, Deputy Head of OSCE mission told RT”.
What is more, in the investigated news coverage there is no information
about tragedy’s echo: no relatives’ statements, no friends: “This is different to the
situation in March when the other Malaysian airlines jet went missing – relatives of
those on board were literally besieging the Malaysian airlines offices,” said RT’s
Aleksey Yaroshevsky from Kuala Lumpur International Airport”. On Saturday
only, four days after disaster, appeared information: “… however a group of some
30 people lit candles and set placards in a vigil for the families of those in the
To sum up, there is a total lack of information about victims, their relatives
and a lack of governmental support. ‘Tragedy’ in the RT news coverage of
Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 is definitely not a frame, it could be named a subtopic, but the main topic is still, of course, a crisis.
So, this way the lack of tragedy’s coverage turns to a moral question.
Everything what is stated about Malaysian support is that Malaysian PM Najib
Razak is “…shocked by reports than an MH (Malaysian Airlines) plane crashed”.
The problem is that when a PM of a suffering country is shocked, relatives of victims
want to see facts and investigation should go. With this “shock” the PM abuse of
taking the responsibility also.
About the final report of investigation there were also a lot of talks. Except
the ‘proofs’ of the “politically-motivated investigation from the start “ there were
also such statements as “…the final report “unfairly distributes responsibility” for
Kiev’s failure to secure airspace above the conflict zone “shifting it away from
Ukraine, and onto international carriers, and regulatory bodies.”
§5. Main themes in news coverage of the MH-17 crash
To prove our predictions about the main mobilizing frame we need to establish
the important topics which usually support this type of a frame. These sub frames
demonstrate that all of them are supporting the conflict frame anyway. In both news
sources economy episodic frame and technical frame support the main mobilizing
Economy sub frame goes through the conflict topic, according to the theory
about mobilizing frame. In RT economical background is not so important as in BBC
news. It could be adopted to the ‘blame’ side, as in RT is stated: “Despite an
international search effort costing tens of millions of dollars, the plane, the reasons
for whose disappearance have still not been definitively established, has not yet been
It is interesting that at a meeting on economic issues the head of the Russian
state told “Ukraine should bear responsibility for Malaysian airliner tragedy” and
the meeting started with a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the disaster.
Also the economic problems are raised in the opinion piece about blaming
again and about UK and US propagandistic articles blaming Russia. The author
expresses his opinion about UK magazines and newspapers with a sarcastic tone,
remembering a lot of magazines faults and saying that UK newspapers and
journalists are biased: “The problem is that most British people don't read 'quality'
newspapers and that the tabloids outsell them by a huge margin. The Sun, the top
seller, flogs 2.2 million copies daily. This is massively down from their 2011 figure
of 3 million but that is due to a number of factors in recent years”.
The crash came one day after the US imposed new sanctions on Russia,
targeting Russian banking and energy sectors. Obama used his remarks to drive
home the need for a diplomatic solution to the situation, and accused Russia of
“continued violations of Ukrainian sovereignty,” he said, because “Russia has
refused to take the concrete steps necessary to de-escalate the situation
In BBC the main theme which stands near “the conflict” is “economy”. BBC
reported that in response, the United States has strengthened its economic sanctions
against Moscow: “Everything will now depend upon obtaining accurate and
verifiable data on the aircraft's last moments and on what brought it down”, “But if
Russia in any way had a hand in this tragedy then the pressure - especially on the
Europeans - for much tougher sanctions will only grow”.
Also BBC reported about economic impact of a Malaysian crash: “The
uncertainty surrounding the circumstances of the crash - combined with news of an
Israeli ground operation into Gaza - led investors to flee to so-called safe haven
assets like gold and US Treasury bonds”; "I can't remember a time when there were
more geopolitical skirmishes going on, all of which are creating uncertainty," said
Michael Mullaney, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Co in Boston, who
also said the market was "trading on eggshells".
One of articles’ where technical sub frame supports the conflict frame topic is
related to technical issue: it is reported about technical characteristics, which are
posed not in the best way: “The Boeing-777, whose maiden commercial flight was
almost exactly two decades ago, had previously suffered ten serious incidents”. On
the contrary, BBC reported more neutral: “It is the second disaster suffered by
Malaysia Airlines this year”.
And, the second talk is about anti-craft weapons: “We assess Malaysia
Airlines flight MH-17 carrying these 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur
was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, a SA-11 operated from a separatistheld location in eastern Ukraine,” US envoy Samantha Power told the UN Security
Council in New York. She ruled out that “shorter range” systems, which self-defense
forces possess - manpads, SA-8, SA-13 systems - could have been used to down the
plane”. This statement about a usage of weapons lead to another ‘cause’ of the
airplane crash: “Power’s statement echoes Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko,
who earlier blamed “terrorists” for the incident and that he called “a terrorist act.”
Talking about Buk, in Russia Today in October 2015 is stated: “we have
declassified certain technical documentation related to the Buk missiles and
provided the Netherlands with a thorough analysis of possible Buk involvement in
the downing of the aircraft performed by experts from the Almaz-Antey
Corporation, the missiles’ manufacturer”. It looks like a double game but
nevertheless, the technical frame here plays a role of a supporter for the
On 17th BBC reported only one thing considering ‘technology’ theme - about
The Buk, “also known by its Nato codename of Sa-11 Gadfly, is a Russian-made,
medium-range surface-to-air missile system designed to defend against highperformance aircraft and cruise missiles”.
After a year of a tragedy Russia Today started to use ttechnical sub frame
which now seen as a part of investigation, so we can consider it as a part of conflict
and mobilizing frames.
Calls for the investigation to shed light on the murky details have been
becoming more vocal. While rules of secrecy may apply to criminal investigations,
details from a technical investigation, such as the one into the MH-17 crash, should
be more transparent, argues Harry van Bommel, a Dutch MP from the Socialist
“Criminal investigation is never fully open because we do not want to inform
the possible people that are involved in downing of MH17 of how far the
investigation is going and who we are looking at. So I understand we cannot get all
the details of a criminal investigation yet. Technical investigation is another thing,”
van Bommel told RT.
“If we want to look at satellite or radar information, then I think the
government should do more to give transparency to the Dutch audience, relatives,
and also to Dutch parliament,” he added.
In our study we succeed our goal and investigated how media frame the
airplane crash of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 immediately on the day of a
tragedy 17 of July 2014 and years after. We also performed tasks:
1) to investigate and classify types of frames in modern media content;
2) to analyze the revealed frames within the wider context of the articles on
3) to define the main patterns of responsibility attribution in the two media
covering the same issue;
4) to compare the ways news sources frame similar news stories, as well as
these media’s use of media framing and suggest the effect(s) these frames have on
the representation of events to their readers.
The tasks set in research were performed with the corresponding methods:
methods of the description and comparison and the textual analysis. The research
was done with the qualitative analysis that has allowed us to investigate data and
describe it in examples and comparisons.
To sum up, the researched material showed that RT and BBC news see the
crash of Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH-17 as a conflict, not as a tragedy. The
hypothesizes which were established in the beginning were proved. All the research
questions were answered. The main frame is a mobilizing frame, because all
necessary parts of it are included in the news articles: responsibility attribution,
conflict and moral appeal complimentary frames. The other topics are: economy,
technology and tragedy.
Our results showed that, the attribution of responsibility frame was most
commonly used in the news, followed by the conflict and morality. RT more often
uses the responsibility attribution and conflict frames in the presenting of news.
Surprisingly, BBC news uses more human interest with blaming attribution. The one
dominant frame for two news sources is the mobilizing frame.
The in-depth analysis of articles lighting plane crash of the Boeing MH-17,
representing two polar points of view on the happened tragedy allows to notice that
they totally different in the interpretation of an event, i.e. that image of an event
which journalists try to impose to mass audience, and at the disposal of the
manipulators wishing to create a certain public opinion, there is a wide arsenal of
themes used, tools and strategies of text-performance.
Through content analysis and research, it has been determined that there is a
difference between the way opposite media present news information. It is
speculated that the cause in difference could be due to the financial backing behind
different media sources and the motives that drive them. Further research needs to
be done to determine the strength of the relationship behind funding and media
frames used. However, the characteristic differences between RT and BBC media
sources beg to question about relationship between funding and effects of frames.
Through textual analysis and research, it has been determined that there is a
difference between the way RT and BBC present news information. It is speculated
that the cause in difference could be due to the politics backing behind different
media sources and the motives that drive them. Further research needs to be done to
determine the strength of the relationship behind frames effects. The future research
of framing as a way of reality construction, the describing of a situation in a
particular manner, needs to be done. The task of a researcher is to look on how
different news texts offer themes and frames.
The novelty of our research is based on the distinction of positions that is built
on the level of secondary and supplementary frames. Thus, on the main frame’ level
both of investigated media sources are oriented to the qualitative journalism.
However, episodic frames in contrary to the dominant frames give us an opportunity
to judge about the position of an editorial office in the conflict.
News media serve as an effective source of information and powerful model
of communication. In order to communicate efficiently, journalists use media frames
to streamline information flow to their readers. Framing is, on the most major level,
the combination of words that form a sentence, phrase or story that consequently
provides a message to the auditory. This message provided by mass media, is being
framed in some way.
Framing works in conjunction with agenda setting, priming and bias. But who
is it that decides the framework of each story or agenda of each news source?
Furthermore, what are the specific implications of such decisions, and how do these
affect how news is portrayed to its readers? These are questions yet to be answered.
In the period of crises and sharp changes, in a difficult political situation
raises purposeful use of mass media as an instrument of impact on mass
consciousness and the language role as a resource for manipulation increases. In the
conditions of intensive interstate and international contacts, on the one hand, and
media globalization, on another, – more and more obvious are cases of abuse of a
freedom of speech and cases of distortion of reality in the mass media texts in
interests of power structures.
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