Forgotten Frames: Proposing the Concept of “Digressive Framing” Using Left-Out Frames in Chinese Media Coverage of Left-Behind Children
Framing is described as being like a picture that includes some elements but leaves out others, with scholars declaring that what is left out is just as important as what is emphasized; however, few studies specifically examine left-out frames. This study uses a content analysis of Chinese media coverage of China’s left-behind children to investigate omitted or repressed frames. It finds that the frames most associated with the root cause of the problem were the least used, and proposes the theoretical concept of “digressive framing,” which distracts from the main issue and diverts attention from the real source of problems. This type of framing is about more than simply not providing a frame of reference for understanding or providing a conflicting frame; it is about not providing the frame at the root of the problem. If media do not frame issues in ways that get at causality, long-term solutions will be unlikely.
Keywords: Framing, media frames, Chinese media, content analysis, China’s left-behind children