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Thursday, March 27, 2003

Focus on the frame.

"Why do conservatives seem to communicate better than liberals?" asks Chris Mooney in the liberal American Prospect. "One reason for the liberal left's chronic difficulty is a tendency to overintellectualize issues. Liberals bombard the media and the public with figures and statistics that prove their case. But again and again the data glance off without making any impression, and the issues don't go anywhere." Conservatives focus a lot on the frame — the basic storyline — while liberals are preoccupied with the big picture. But it's the story that people find compelling. How can liberals reframe the public debate?

On his own blog, Mooney argues that Michael Moore's Oscar rant — fairly complete transcript in Newsweek and in the socialist In These Times — is a perfect example of how "It hurts us all when ineffectual liberals put out the wrong messages."

Matthew Yglesias adds that frames aren't simply a matter of spin: "Reliance on frames and paradigms and whatnot is not some kind of failure to be sufficiently open-minded, itís a precondition of any sort of attempt to understand the world... Thereís simply no way to make sense of the constant flux of information — scientific data, personal observations, stuff you read, things you hear on TV — unless you assume that the vast majority of the things you believe are true. Otherwise you would need to consider every possible way that a new piece of information could be assimilated into your belief-set and you would discover that this problem is totally intractable." Which is why I wish my friend Bjorn well in his attempt to "practice the news."

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 27 March 2003 at 2:12 PM

Previous: Where are the conscientious objectors?
Next: Focus on the pictures.

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