Terrorism Made Simpler: A Framing Analysis of Three Canadian Newspapers, 2006-2013

Srdjan Vucetic, Janelle Malo, Valérie Ouellette


How do mainstream Canadian newspapers portray contemporary terrorism? The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the ensuing “war on terror” has deeply impacted media coverage of terrorism and terrorism-related events around the world. Canada is no exception and scholars have begun examining various aspects of terrorism coverage in the Canadian media system. Inspired by framing theory, the following study adds to this growing literature by developing a model for understanding and evaluating media coverage of terrorism according to “degrees of simplification.” The model is applied to a sample of articles drawn from three Canadian newspapers in two periods of time—June 2006-June 2007 and June 2012-June 2013. Three main findings are discussed. First, both The National Post and La Presse tended to present terrorism-related news and analysis using simpler frames than The Globe and Mail. Second, the coverage of domestic terrorism was far less simplistic than the coverage of international terrorism in all three newspapers. Third, while simplifying frames were more frequent in 2006-7 than in 2012-3, the study finds weak evidence that mainstream framing practices employed by the Canadian newspapers radically changed between these two time periods.


Media, Terrorism, Framing, Canadian newspapers

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125