1st Edition

Media Inequality News Framing and Media Power

By Victoria Fielding Copyright 2025
    264 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    News media notionally underpins a vibrant and diverse democracy by representing political, industrial and social conflict to mass audiences. Yet, few studies measure how equitably journalists frame public contestation. Despite framing theory’s extensive use in media and communication scholarship, little is known about how frames are created and disseminated - how frames are built - to explain how and why journalists frame news the way they do.

    Media Inequality proposes that frame building occurs through a two-step process of frame adoption and replication. This two-step frame building process is explored by identifying the newspaper master narratives used in five historical industrial dispute case studies. These master narratives are then mapped to public narratives used by unionised firefighters and their employer in the Australian case of the 2016 Victorian Country Fire Authority industrial dispute. By theorising about the causes of journalists’ inequitable framing of contested narratives, Media Inequality tells the story of unconscious structural media bias, interrogates the power of news media to reinforce dominant frames, offers valuable theoretical perspectives about the influence of media power on the accumulation of power in society, and provides lessons for groups communicating in competitive contexts.

    Media Inequality is thus valuable to scholars, academics and research students in the fields of journalism, communication, and media, particularly scholars interested in how journalists represent political, industrial, and social contestation.

    1. Introduction – industrial relations and the media marketplace of ideas  Chapter 2. Introducing narrative frame building  3. Historical industrial disputes: master narratives of empathy and authority  4. An authority story: the 2016 Country Fire Authority dispute  5. Step one of media inequality in frame building: frame adoption  6. Step two of media inequality in frame building: frame replication  7. Media inequality - Frame building bias and media power


    Victoria Fielding researches the influence of contested public narratives on media narratives and the influence of journalism on democracy. Dr Fielding is a lecturer in Strategic Communication at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. She has also worked in professional marketing and communications for 18 years. Dr Fielding has a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing and Management) from the University of Adelaide, a First Class Honours degree in Arts (Communication and Media) and a PhD from the University of South Australia.