Analyzing News Stories Using the Concepts of Framing
Two recently published articles that essentially discussed the same story are The New York Times’ “North Korean Launch Was a Failure, Experts Say” and China Daily’s “DPKR says successfully launches satellite.” Both articles were published on April 5, 2009 and both tackled North Korea’s launching of a rocket over Japan and into outer space. On one side, it is believed that the launch was a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which suspended all of North Korea’s ballistic missile activities. On the other hand, North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPKR) claimed that the missile launch was simply a communications satellite and not a nuclear missile that many countries believed it to be. While the central issue or main topic here is North Korea’s launching of a missile, it is very notable that both the New York Times and China Daily’s articles on the said event framed and crafted their respective stories very differently.
In the New York Times article, “North Korean Launch Was a Failure, Experts Say,” it is very clear that North Korea’s missile launch was cast on a negative light. From the title itself, the article generally deemed the launch a failure. The article mainly based its claim on findings of the United States Northern Command in Colorado Springs, which reported that the missile, a Taepodong Type-2, in its first stage fell into the Sea of Japan, and then its payload landed in the Pacific Ocean. The report further stated that no object went into orbit following the missile’s launch. Furthermore, in order to substantiate the points in the article, its writer, William J. Broad, sought the opinion and comments of professionals whose expertise lie on the missiles and people, such as astronomers, who generally have wide knowledge on the missile launches similar to that of North Korea. Each of these experts and personnel provided their own take on the missile launch but it is evident that they all declared that it was a failure. For example, one of the resources persons that the writer sought for comment for his article was Geoffrey Forden, a missile expert of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said that the satellite that North Korea launched did not fly into orbit. Another resource person in the article, David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists from Massachusetts asserted that the rocket might throw a 2,200-pound warhead at a distance of 3,700 miles, which is far enough to reach certain parts of Alaska in the U.S. Moreover, the article also cited past failed attempts of North Korea to launch a missile in 1998 and 2006. It also stated that the while these failures can be a learning experience for North Korea in missiles, it can also indicate that the country’s missile programs have serious quality control problems.
In short, the New York Times article, aside from showing that the missile launch was a failure, was more or less biased against North Korea. From start to finish, the article did not state the side of anyone from the North Korean government and mainly focused on illustrating the missile launch as a failure based on the views of American missile experts. It also contained an underlying message that more or less meant that nuclear program of the country is inefficient and does not pose a short-term serious threat to national security.
On the other hand, China Daily’s article, “DPKR says successfully launches satellite” was a relatively more balanced news story as compared its New York Times counterpart. It presented two sides of the story—one tjat condemned the launching of the North Korea missile launch due its alleged nuclear capabilities and one that reassured the world that it was purely a communications satellite. The used the press release of Central News Agency, North Korea’s official media organization, which stated that the launch of the satellite was successful and was crucial to the advancement of space exploration capabilities of the country. It also presented the United States’ belief that the rocket was in fact a ballistic missile and posed a threat to global security. In addition, the article also highlighted the reaction of the United Nations Security Council, which held an emergency meeting to discuss the ways to resolve the issue in a peaceful manner.
However, as seen in the article’s title, it is evident that its main focus is to show that the successful launch of the missile and unlike The New York Times article, it did not present the comments and views of missile experts. The main thrust of the article was to show when and where the launch took place and how it affected nearby regions. It also stated that China and Russia called for restraint in dealing with the said issue. In short, as opposed to The New York Times article, China Daily’s article cast North Korea’s missile launch in a positive light and did not focus too much on its technical side.
It can then be surmised that the two articles presented dramatically contrasting content and framing of the North Korean missile launch last April. The New York Times claim that the launch was a failure indicated that it was against the launch and other forms of nuclear activities. The reason behind this framing can be traced to the fact that the publication is based in the United States, a country which has strongly opposed nuclear activities not only in North Korea but in other parts of the world as well. But the framing of the article published in China Daily is not surprising either. Historically, it is well-known that while China condemns nuclear armaments, it is a communist country like North Korea to which it also sends aid to. In other words, these two articles provide an a very discreet overview of the perception of the U.S. and China toward the launch.
Broad, William J. “North Korean Launch Was a Failure, Experts Say.” 5 April 2009. The New York Times. 20 April 2009 < http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/world/asia/06korea.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hp>.
“DPKR says successfully launches satellite.” 5 April 2009. China Daily. 20 April 2009 < http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-04/05/content_7650320.htm>.
“Framing the News.” 13 July 1998. Journalism.org. 20 April 2009 <http://www.journalism.org/node/445>.