Consider these two newspaper headings;
Both these headings are based on the same report, but offer two differing interpretations of it’s findings. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report, entitled, Welfare Targeting and Work Incentives has been produced as part of a presentation at a budget perspectives conference.
This type of information used by governments to create policies is referred to as expert knowledge. It is knowledge that comes from experts at the top and trickles down through channels into the democratic system.
However, as we have seen in our example above, expert knowledge can be framed in many ways to suit certain, dominant agendas. Recently the approach taken by government politicians has been to demonise job seekers;
The first headline challenges the governments’ previously held attitude to job seekers (it will probably alter after their disastrous results in the local elections).
It could be argued that the second newspaper headline frames the research in such a way that it reinforces the governments’ negative attitude towards job seekers (headline number 3).
The two contrasting examples above of how evidence may be framed in the media is not only a rare insight into editorial agendas of certain newspapers.But it also sheds light, here in Ireland, on how a picture created by unbiased, expert knowledge can be framed, and how that knowledge is defined by the way in which it is framed.