Framing practices in crisis coverage in Dutch written media and the role of the Dutch written media as agenda setters of the Dutch public opinion are fields within the metajournalistic discourse which has received too little attention. Framing is the practice of using salience to highlight certain aspects of communication, thereby influencing the receiver of the information. Using the case of the Groningen Earthquake crisis, this research aims to identify differences in framing between six different Dutch newspapers by answering the following question: How do the Dutch mainstream written media differ in their coverage of the Groningen Earthquake crisis? The newspapers selected form a diverse group with roots on both sides of the political spectrum, while still maintaining more than half of the market share. It includes ‘sensational newspapers’ AD and the Telegraaf’, which were expected to use a lot of framing and use a more extreme tone to influence their public, regional newspaper ‘Dagblad van het Noorden’, which is a newspaper only distributed in the provinces surrounding the crisis site, ‘qualitative newspapers’ NRC and the Volkskrant, which were expected to be nuanced in their writing and therefore withhold from using a lot of framing, and Trouw, a historically conservative newspaper which has moved more to the political middle during the last twenty years. To expose the differences in framing practices, an evenly distributed pool of 60 articles were taken from the selected newspapers, which were analysed using a qualitative content analysis. The articles were manually scanned for pieces of code that would fit into created subcategories, inductively analysing the articles. All these subcategories would fit into the main categories, which were five generic frames that were taken from the discourse surrounding framing. Thus, a codebook was created from the 60 articles on which numerical analysis could be performed. The results show that the suspected bias from ‘sensational newspapers’ like AD and the Telegraaf are less frequent than expected, while the ‘qualitative newspapers’ NRC and Volkskrant were the most frequent users of framing. The expected results were therefore largely contradicted. Since the crisis deals with a lot of human interaction and friction between actors, it was expected that the newspapers would focus their framing practices of the human aspect of the crisis. This was confirmed by the data. A striking omission from the articles was a discussion of the morality surrounding the choices made by the different actors involved in the crisis.

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Sergül Nguyen
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Timo Mundt. (2023, February 28). Covering the Groningen Earthquake Crisis Framing Practices in Dutch Newspapers. Media & Business. Retrieved from