Contesting the Future: Media Convergence and Contentious Stakeholder Frames on Net Neutrality
Smith, Casey A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Fine Arts and Communication
MetadataShow full item record
The proliferation of the internet as an innovative communication technology has brought into question several assumptions of traditional media theory. This thesis critically evaluated the assumptions of the cascading activation model of framing through application of the theory to the debate surrounding the issue of net neutrality. A mixed method approach which combined manual frame analysis and computer-assisted frame mapping enabled a multi-stage analysis of the messages conveyed by elite stakeholders, news media, and members of the public. Analysis of these messages resulted in the identification of two main framing groups, Team Internet and Team ISP, which each conveyed distinctive frames. Differences in power, strategy, motivation, and cultural congruence were important in determining the outcomes of the frame contest between Team Internet and Team ISP. Team Internet was motivated by a desire to protect the public good and conveyed more culturally congruent frames by utilizing superior strategy despite possessing less power than Team ISP. Team ISP, motivated by financial self-interest, enacted poor strategy which left a power vacuum which was able to be filled by Team Internet. The analysis of the framing process in the case of net neutrality suggested a need for changes in the theoretical assumptions regarding the role of the news media as well as the assumed stratification among elite stakeholders, news media, and members of the public.