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Media templates: patterns of association and the (re)construction of meaning over time

Kitzinger, Jenny ORCID: 2000. Media templates: patterns of association and the (re)construction of meaning over time. Media, Culture & Society 22 (1) , pp. 61-84. 10.1177/016344300022001004

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This article introduces, and attempts to define, the concept of 'media templates'. Drawing on focus groups discussions, content analysis and interviews with media personnel I demonstrate how template events help to shape news narratives and guide thinking not only about the past, but also of the present and the future. The argument is illustrated by examining the position of 'the Cleveland scandal' (and the subsequent 'Orkney crisis') in discussions of child sexual abuse. The discussion explores how templates such as 'Cleveland' are established and maintained by source strategies, social power relations and journalistic/audience reception processes, I also examine how templates operate in relation to existing theories around key events, framing and news icons. The article concludes by outlining the implications of templates for media production practice, media studies theory and audience reception research. Media templates are, I argue, a crucial site of media power, acting to provide context for new events, serving as foci for demands for policy change and helping to shape the ways in which we make sense of the world. The paradigmatic examples and associations which surround any particular issue can come to seem natural and inevitable. It is the task of media theorists, practitioners, policy makers and audiences to question how such accounts and links are constructed, to examine the conditions under which they are produced and reproduced, and to ask how they might be different.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Uncontrolled Keywords: audience reception; child sexual abuse; focus groups; framing; media power; narratives; production; public understandings
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 0163-4437
Funders: ESRC
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 11:52

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