In my News Reporting lecture last week, one of the professors/editors brought to light the importance of framing and how it can affect a story. He gave two opposing examples on the same subject matter: oil.
The two articles, one written from the perspective that oil is a grand treasure that provides economic benefits, while the other shares the non-monetary cost of fracking, but the health concerns caused by the emitted gases.
The first article I read, entitled “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” was published in Texas Monthly. The frame of this story was obviously written to show the benefits of oil drilling in Texas, specifically its positive impact on the economy. The photos within this story are all beautiful blue skies or majestic sunsets illuminating the machinery used to remove the natural oil. All the photos made of people are framed to give the view the idea that they are doing well, making money, looking important, etc. Aside from the photographs, the story if filled with advertisements specifically catering to an audience that either makes money from the oil industry or are a part of that field. (The Bank of Texas ad literally has a photo of men drilling and uses the quote “When Others Lost The Energy To Loan, We Kept On Producing,” making a direct reference to the economic benefits of the industry.
The opposing article, “Big Oil, Bad Air,” takes a completely different approach. This article shares how harmful fracking in Texas is. One statistic said that three facilities are allowed to release 142 tons of nitrogen oxides, 95 tons of carbon monoxide, 19 tons of sulfur dioxide, 8 tons of particulate matter and 0.31 tons of hydrogen sulfide PER YEAR. As a reader, that is the opposite of what I want to know. The photographs in this article also highlight the fact that this is not a good thing. Lynn Buehring wears an oxygen mask to breathe in her home town, flames show gas escaping into the atmosphere, and landscapes don’t demonstrate the same healthy glow from the previous article. The framing of this piece is entirely different.
Both articles address fracking, but where one encourages it, the other attacks it.