Fun with framing (and fracking)

Scott gave you two stories to read last week about the fracking boom. One, ” Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” was published in Texas Monthly in October 2014. The other, “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,”   was published by Inside Climate News in February 2014.

Here’s what he asked you to do: Look at both these stories and respond in the comments below this post with your observations about the different frames these two stories adopt. Scott says: “The difference between the primary frames — fracking is good vs. fracking is bad — is pretty obvious. But there also nuances within those primary frames that can be analyzed and discussed. What sources do each of the authors use, and how are they treated? Who does the author believe are the stakeholders that have a place in the story, and how prominent are each of those stakeholders? How are the pros and the cons of fracking discussed, if at all? How do the photographs contribute to the frames? In the Texas Monthly example, you might even notice that advertising contributes to the frame.”


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26 Responses to Fun with framing (and fracking)

  1. It goes without saying that the two articles are largely different. The first frames the fracking industry as beneficial, showing how it helped the Texas economy and how it led to prosperity. One way I noticed the framing was through the photography. The photos portray bright, blue skies that show no signs of pollution. These brights colors can be associated with positivity, which further frames a “fracking is good” narrative. The sources in this story happen to be people benefiting from the industry who become wealthy as a result.

    On the other hand, the second article shows its detrimental effects on health and the everyday resident. It associates fracking with the wealthy and powerful and places them in a negative light. For example, it uses a Texas representative as a source, who says that Texans are “anti-Texas” if they’re against the fracking industry. The journalist also talks to people who are directly affected by fracking. It even leads with an anecdote of a source who has severe asthma and faces the consequences of the industry.

  2. The first article, “Y’all Smell That…” is heavily influenced upon its positive light of fracking. The editor did a really great job at putting this article together to promote what the article’s focused frame is about. The reporter went out and asked people who were directly linked to the oil frackers about how it has benefitted them both financially and socially. Like asking Richard Dockery, whom this article was focused on, about his daddy and how he resorted to using land for fracking and now how he’s adopted the pastime. Also, the photographer for this story didn’t show any of the negative effects from the pollution left behind by fracking. No, a majority of the pictures shown show gorgeous landscapes with a Texas sunset or blue sky being lined with workers or oil rigs in their unnatural beauty. The photos and advertisements in this piece really did its job by presenting fracking in Texas in a positive light. Even by being such a dauntingly long article, the editor placing advertisements in the piece and placing the positive-looking photos around them, it made this fracking look like such a happy and well-to-do industry.

    The other article does the exact opposite and it does really well at that. Other than the eye-opening photo about the woman and her oxygen mask at the beginning, this article relies on colorful and insightful diagrams and charts to show us the negative effects of fracking and what it means for Texas. The article even includes maps showing where the areas worst affected are. The interviews conducted by the reporter are more framed towards the negative aspects of oil emissions in the air and get people to discuss how they have poorly affected them. The article also includes inserted bullet points to draw attention to facts involving the flaws in the oil refineries and the laws they’re breaking with minimal punishment for the acts they’re committing. The article concludes with a quote saying, “There is no end in sight.” This article is just straight-up, by the people, for the people. It helps the little guys whose voices weren’t heard in the gigantic magazine-spread article. It effectively tells the other side of the story that the other article din’t focus on too much.

    Overall, the two are both effective frames for telling the two sides to the oil fracking story. They are both successful in their claims and it proves that there’s always another perspective and a different side to a story.

  3. First off, I enjoyed reading the first article more. The second article was heavier on the facts, which are important but less interesting to read. While reading the “fracking good” article, at first I was thinking, “Wow, new fancy schools, decreased unemployment, great.” But once I read about the family living in a tent all the positive things I had read slipped out of my mind. All I could think about was that one family. Meanwhile, in the “fracking bad” article when I got to the part at the end when there’s a source who thinks that the good outweighs the bad, that dissenting opinion didn’t linger with me, the negative things I read before still stuck with me. Is this some sort of negativity bias? Where the negative aspects of a story stick me with more than the positive? Or do I just feel really bad for the people who are dealing with all these ignored problems that come along with the fracking boom?

    The first article was entertaining, and the photos putting faces to names were nice and really humanized/personalized things. I liked how the article was framed around the journalist’s personal experience of living in that environment while she was reporting. I thought it gave the article a natural kind of flow.

    However, the quotes from sources in the second article stood out to me the most, probably because they were so shocking- the family whose dogs randomly died, the family who had stuff start showing up on their skin from the air pollution, kids learning to drive having panic attacks on the highway…yikes.

    The first article does have a source that talks about how they want to move because of the pollution and that they’ve filed a lawsuit, but it stops at that. In the second article, the reporter really shows how filing a lawsuit might not do any good, that the fracking money and allegiance runs deeper than just the companies and their employees.

    Both were interesting reads that had sources from both sides, but the first was obviously heavy on the pro-fracking opinions and the second on negative opinions.

  4. mlhhw3 says:

    Copy/pasted from my blog:

    Today in lecture, Scott gave a presentation on framing. I know what framing is, I’ve known about it for a while. That said, it is not something that I have been actively thinking about when writing articles and stories.

    The pieces presented to us in class today had to do with fracking. One article, “Do y’all smell that?” is about the joys of fracking and the unbelievable wealth it has brought to Texas oil men. “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions,” however, presents a much different viewpoint. Both dealing with fracking, it is clear that the two are written with different frames. “Do y’all smell that” focuses on the oil barons and land owners in Texas. Their lavish lifestyles are well documented and it is clear that they have no qualms with the industry. In the other article, however, the people interviewed are people who have been negatively effected by fracking. Scientists and doctors fill the interviews in this article. Both articles would be improved by crossing more fault lines. It would provide a clearer image of the fracking issue: one side disproportionately hurt by fracking while the other profits immensely. Photography-wise, the “Do y’all smell that?” article deals in very simple photos that highlight the interview subjects. In “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions,” the photos pull the reader in by using emotion and infographics to understand how much fracking is hurting the environment and nearby residents.

  5. nwadioko says:

    Nwadi Oko

    The first story “Y’all Smell That…” is framed in a good light. The pictures are all of a beautiful sky and perfect white clouds, even though it’s not about the scenery in Texas. The author is a source in the story, so it already is framed in a way to highlight the good about fracking because the author comes from a family that is rich from oil. Almost all of his sources are people who have benefitted greatly (monetarily) from fracking. The other source was a woman who was forced from her home due to the increase in price because the property value increased. However, she is photographed with a beautiful sky and does not show where she lives or her with her children. It almost glazes over her hardships by choosing this photograph of her.The stakeholders are the main people mentioned in the story, almost all of them are heavily involved in the oil business. The pros are explained greatly in the story, but the cons are lacking. The photographs, as mentioned before, paint the picture is such a nice light. All the photos have blue skies and do not show any fracking, probably because it’s not that pretty.

    The other story, “fracking boom..” has an intense headline. It already frames fracking negatively and sets the reader up for a story about how horrible fracking is. The first source is someone who has upper respiratory problems because of how terrible the chemicals and air is on her way home. This humanizes the story and alerts the reader of possible injustice; the ability to breath clean air is a right and not a privilege. The stakeholders in this story are the people who have suffered from the fracking increase. People’s livelihoods have been altered because of the noises and smells from the fracking. The story mainly focused on the cons: people in the area are inhaling chemicals that could kill them. Areas that were family friendly and relaxed have now become unsafe. The photos included are infographics showing where the shales and wells are. These photos were more relevant and helpful than the pictures used in the other article. Without advertising, the story seems more serious and doesn’t feel like they have an ulterior motive.

  6. mariacallejon says:

    The article “Do y’all smell that?” has a favorable view of the boom in the fracking industry. To support that point of view it mainly quoted sources who have personally benefitted from fracking. Also, bear in mind that the journalist who wrote the article is the son of a former oil tycoon. The support of the industry holds up mainly because the article is made from stories of success and personal experiences regarding the oil boom in Eagle Ford Shale, Texas. The main characters of the articles are men, parents, who risked their stability to pursue a better lifestyle by following the oil boom. The article purposely over-humanizes them. All sources quoted are in favor of fracking. The only somewhat scientific source is geologist Jena Beeson, who works for Halcon Resources, an energy company from Texas. The article even goes as far as to present the oil boom as a panacea for the problems of Cotulla town, which had faced impoverishment before the industry bloomed. It is on page 21—out of 26— that “losers” are mentioned for the first time and just to make reference to the increase in rent prices near drilling sites. One of its most compelling arguments to favor fracking is that the industry hold-up after the 2008 financial crisis. The layout of the article also looks to give a possitive image. Colorful pictures, nature-focused, no sign of pollution nor toxic emissions. Even the advertising included in the article supports the oil industry and shows how beneficial it is for the community.
    On the other hand, Inside Climate News focuses entirely on toxic emissions generated from the fracking boom and their effects on the community. Given the fact that the medium for which it is written publishes pieces regarding clean energy, the environment, etc., I am not bothered by the specific focus they gave to this issue. The sources in this piece are varied and are all recognized organizations and government departments, which increases its credibility. The article also includes various sources who have been affected by the toxic emissions from the drilling sites, human stories that support their argument. It also criticizes the lack of regulation. However, it does recognize the importance of the fracking industry in both the creation of jobs and the generation of energy. This is definitively a more balanced and informative piece that has present the needs of the people, not the industry.

  7. shaunayates1 says:

    There are two different types of framing in these stories. In the article, “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” it is very much so a story of “rags to riches”. It’s your typical story about a family who got up and moved to a city where money could be made, not realizing that money would be flowing in that fast. In the article, “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” it is quite the opposite. The frame in this story is centered around the fact that a couple lives too close to oil wells and is releasing toxins into the air causing health problems. So, we have two completely different stories.

    The stakeholders for these two articles are quite different as well. In the first article, the stakeholders are basically just the family. It is based on their upbringing and background story. In the second article, the stakeholders would be all the residents in the area that are affected by the toxins. The pictures do help a lot in telling any kind of story, so personally that’s always my favorite aspect of stories visually. They really allow you to imagine where the story takes place, what the people look like, what might be coming up next, etc. For the fracking stories however, the second article wasn’t that visually appealing to me and had a lot of advertisements that were quite distracting.

  8. knhardison says:

    The Texas Monthly article is framed in a way that favors the oil industry and glorifies fracking. In this article, the writer focuses on families that have become rich from their hand in the oil industry, including his own family. The stakeholders are people living in Texas and people interested in business opportunities. Because the author includes so many success stories, the entire article feels like an advertisement for a job opportunity. The data glorifies fracking, and shows how much money is in the oil industry, which the business stakeholders would be very interested in. The advertisements were overkill, but a magazine has to be funded somehow, right? The ads were promoting the big lifestyle as described by the families of successful oil tycoons. With the jewelry, house, golf and vodka ads, how could you not want to enter into the oil industry? The photographs also contribute to the framing by making the practice of fracking look majestic and beautiful with the puffy white clouds and the bright colors.

    In both stories, the authors do a good job at humanizing the issue, whether positive or negative.

    In the Inside Climate News article, it’s clear that the frame of the story is to show the reader how bad fracking is for your health and for the environment. This is shown through the story of the woman who suffers health problems that are worsened by fracking and has to carry an inhaler. The data and information cited also focuses on how harmful fracking can be to the environment, and more specifically, the air emission levels. It’s clear that this is an informative piece because there are six graphs that help the reader visualize the effects of fracking and why legislative action should be made. The main stakeholders in this article are the people whose health could be affected by fracking and people concerned with the environment. Another stakeholder is a state representative, or someone who helps regulate social problems. I think this is also an example of watchdog journalism, because the data and investigative reporting unveil the social problems and try to hold the Texas State Legislature accountable. The photography in this article also reflect the dangerous, unhealthy, eery vibe that the article has towards fracking.

  9. The visuals that accompany this story show how much visuals alone can add to a story’s frame before you even read the words themselves. The first piece has an abundance of visuals, which first of all draws readers in more than the text-heavy second. I don’t know if this necessarily counts as a frame, but it likely makes the first piece seem more accessible to readers, even though it is quite long.
    The biggest takeaway of the photographs in the first piece is how much it romanticizes fracking. These photos alone present a pro-fracking frame. Beautiful skies, open highways, romantic silhouettes — these bring to mind ideas of the American dream, and of a romanticized capitalism. Any of the negative effects of fracking are largely absent in these photos. In fact, these photos almost feel like advertisements because of their focus on the sky and artsy aesthetic more than actual photojournalism of capturing the action. The portraits are all triumphant — even, and especially, Tanya Mendez, the woman who had to live with her family in a tent because of the cost of living near the center of the fracking boom. Why the photo team did not appear to try to get pictures of her in the tent itself is beyond me — it’s an image the reader conjures in their head while reading, and one that I would like to see. The complete tone difference between the photo and her story is disorienting. When it comes to the ads, I find it unethical to put ads for or against the topic of your story on the same page as it. It can influence how the reader perceives your work, and you are knowingly allowing that to happen — If nothing else, it brings the appearance of a conflict of interest.
    The second story also starts out with a strong image that sets a reader’s mindset before they start reading the story, this time one that is strikingly negative, even scary. This is, however, the only photograph attached to this story. The rest of the visuals are graphics. While the graphics help explain some concepts, they are not super reader-friendly. They are text heavy, include some jargon and lack easy-to-understand keys. The story, similarly, is pretty research based. This frame seems to emphasize to the reader that their stance is supported by facts and research, even if it isn’t necessarily made accessible. However, the human interest parts of this story are what make it actually hit home, and they are not as represented in the visuals of the story.

  10. The first story, “Y’all smell that?” emphasizes how one family went from being poor to rich in a short period of time. This story had personal anecdotes in it because the writer was the son of a former oil tycoon, which shows that it is mostly one-sided. The writer mentions hard times, but also highlights many achievements his family had within the oil business. Framing is also highlighted by the use of pictures. Most of the pictures show clear skies and people who seem happy and invested in what they are doing in the oil business. This shows the readers that the oil business is more prosperous than destitute. The stakeholders in this article are the family of the writer and various employees of the oil business. The objective of this article was to show that people’s lives have changed when they start working for the oil business.

    The second story, “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” focuses on how bad the oil business is for the environment. This also shows numerous statistics to support the authors’s claim on how and why fracking is bad. The stakeholders are the people who were affected by the air emissions. The journalist’s also highlight what has happened to these people regarding their health and what not.

    These articles showcase both sides of the oil business: the good and the bad. I felt as if the first article was more enjoyable to read because of the success stories, but the second article has information that is needed to show the harm that the emissions have on people.

  11. For the majority of the “Y’all smell that?” article, the author does a solid job convincing you that fracking is an all-around wonderful thing for southern Texans. The primary rags-to-riches family frame, in which the author was the son, is extremely effective. Family is universal. We all care about our families, and who doesn’t love a little boy finally getting to watch his cartoons in color for the first time?

    Another family, the Robertson family, is introduced in a similar manner later in article. So, essentially, this article is intent on bringing you into this world where people were barely eking out a life in the struggling, dusty old towns of southern Texas until the oil boom came to make everything better. The author even says, “For the past five years, the vast and mangy Brush Country – with its poor, hard-luck towns forever cursed by drought and flood – has been home to one of the hottest oil booms on the planet.”

    The author also presents this romantic idea of these guys being pioneers out there exploring the open range; the author’s father hit the oil boom early, and Gregg Robertson was the first one to really drill into the chalk and make lots of money doing it. Even the photos contribute to the pioneer frame – there are these big, beautiful skies only interrupted by the drilling equipment standing seemingly on its own on the unexplored plains.

    The article does mention some people who have been negatively impacted by the boom, but only toward the end, and no photos are included to demonstrate the vast disparity between those who have benefitted from the boom and those who are suffering greatly because of it.

    On the other hand, the “Fracking boom spews toxic air emissions” article focuses solely on suffering at the hands of big oil. It opens with an individual who has been experiencing health issues caused, apparently, by the toxics released into the air from these drilling sites. Then it goes on to lay out an extensive number of facts pointing to just how bad oil drilling is for southern Texans.

    The facts seem to be the primary frame of this article, though they are punctuated throughout by stories of individual suffering. While I do think this article seems to be more well-rounded in terms of sourcing – there are government people, people from the oil companies, people from regulating agencies, people from activist groups, and individuals who speak to the reality of living in this environment – it feels a lot more clinical than the “Y’all smell that?” article. It’s a much more informative but much less personal approach to examining the oil boom.

    Additionally, while there are sources from oil companies included that counter some of the negative information, the positive side of the oil boom isn’t actually really given space, whereas in the first article, both sides are given space, even if it’s in totally disproportionate amounts.

  12. Ashley Craft says:

    In the beginning the Do Y’all Smell That article paints a picture of a family living the American dream, with riches and a comfortable life style. The way the author paints the picture of their lavish lifestyle, it’s as though you begin to feel sorry for the author’s family getting out of the risky oil business, even though they did not endure great hardships like the individuals in the second article. This quote on page 118 is where I’m specifically talking:

    “But like all dreams, a boom can end in an instant. By 1983, Grady had managed to burn through most of his wife’s inheritance, along with every dollar Cunningham Oil had made.”
    The Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents starts out framing the story as sad and serious, unlike the previous article. The Fracking Boom article explains the toxic side of the oil business, once again unlike the previous article.

    You begin to notice the tone in the Do Y’all Smell That article is more sympathetic to the oil business where as The Fracking Boom article explains that the fracking business came out of greed and the oil industry took advantage of the communities who may have needed the money. My comparison quotes are listed below:

    “Energy companies, cheered on by state officials, envision thousands more wells scattered across the plains. It is, an industry spokesman says, an “absolute game-changer” for a long-depressed region of about 1.1 million people, some of whom suddenly find themselves with enough money to ensure their grandchildren’s future.” As stated in the Fracking Boom article


    “Like all booms, it began innocently enough. The Eagle Ford sits directly underneath the Austin Chalk, a formation that stretches from the Texas-Mexico border all the way to Mississippi and perplexed and hog-tied oilmen for decades. Its secrets were finally unlocked in 1975, in part by Roland “Rock” Robertson, a Corpus Christi–based geologist who was instrumental in helping develop the Giddings Field, near College Station, one of the most significant oil plays of the past century.”

  13. alexadhodges says:

    I think a primary difference between both articles in terms of framing is sourcing. In Bryan Mealer’s ” Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” the sources are people ,close to the author, who have benefitted from the oil boom. There’s a period where the family loses their business, but eventually the father finds himself going back and the overall tone is one of positivity. In the Inside Climate News piece on the other hand, the three authors choose to lead with someone who has been affected negatively by the boom. The article is also very statistic and number heavy, which is often a signifier that a topic is serious and of worth to the reader. The instances of numbers in Mealer’s piece is much fewer and uses numbers in a positive but uplifting manner to indicate the exorbitant amount of money made by the industry.

    I thought that it was interesting how these stories both cover the same area of Texas with entirely different frames.

    Prominent stakeholders in Mealer’s story would be the families in the article who have made great gains in the industry while prominent stakeholders in the second article would be members of the community that have been negatively impacted. I think pros/cons are presented in Mealer’s story but in a way that the pros heavily outweigh the cons unlike The Inside Climate News article that is shy of pros if any. It has a very negative outlook and for good reason, money has been made but at the expense of the people who have to live in these towns.

    The imagery used in Mealer’s piece present vast skies that have a connotation of the openness of opportunity in the oil industry. I think it can be inferred that the skies are a symbol that the opportunities for success are endless, limitless, etc.,etc., The imagery provided in the other article is intended to inform the reader and provides information with graphics that show the negative impact of the oil boom.

  14. The first article, called “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” does its best to frame fracking in a very good light. The author’s family was in the oil business, and it seems as though his own personal bias may be in this article. He brings in many ideas to put fracking into a positive light, including pictures of bright skies and happy people, and even a feel-good story of his family persevering through hard times to make it back up the ladder. His story pulls at readers’ emotions and definitely works to show fracking as a positive. The main sources as well as the stakeholders are the main people in the story who are almost all in the oil business. The only source who could have put this story in a bad light was the woman who lost her home, but she was photographed in front of the beautiful sky and bright background, almost trying to make her still seem happy even though she’s not. A lot of pros are introduced but not so many cons, and that’s why I think the author tried to put this story in as great a light as possible while still giving facts.

    The other article, called “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” definitely frames fracking differently. It is written like a simple, informational article rather than a story like the first one. However, it talks about the bad side of the oil drilling business. One source is a person whose health has been affected by the toxins released in the air, and the article offers important information to the readers about why fracking is not such a good thing. The sources are spread out, and they all give valuable information and stories about fracking. This article does not try to give the facts in a story like the first article; it is all about the facts. The personal touch is not apparent in this article, which is a complete difference from the first article.

    Both articles offer information about the fracking business, but the first argues the good side, while the second argues the bad. While the first one may be a better read, the second provides information that people should know that readers wouldn’t get from just reading the first article. Both articles, however, could’ve done a much better job of giving some space to the other side. Only then would both articles have looked past their bias to give a full account to the readers.

  15. kylelahucikargentina says:

    These two stories are framed in vastly different ways. The Texas Monthly one is told through the lens of a journalist who is the son of a former oil mogul (that’s what he made him sound like), and the Inside Climate News one starts with telling the story of a woman who is affected by drilling rigs, crude oil storage tanks and other facets of the oil industry. The Texas Monthly one is almost written in a selfish, pity me type way because the journalist tells of how his father backed out of the industry right before bankruptcy and looks at the financial impacts, rather than the environmental ones.

    Texas Monthly has multiple ads throughout the piece, yet the Inside Climate News doesn’t appear to have any. And the ads aren’t just random ads — they’re related to the oil industry. Even an ad for Clear Fork Royalty has an oil rig in their picture.

    In terms of photographs, the Texas Monthly version of the fracking story focuses heavily on profile shots, rather than on oil rigs or other common features of the oil industry. In Inside Climate News, there are no photographs, except for a feature image of an inhaler. Rather, they use infographics to depict statistics and convey information.

  16. dannyr2 says:

    Bryan Mealer, who wrote “Chasing the Boom in South Texas,” focuses on the son of a man who found success by working for a petroleum company. He presents this story as a rag to riches story of a hard working man took a big risk by quitting his job and going into the oil business and it actually working out for him. The stakeholders in this article are people who may be thinking about going into the oil business and they are very prominent. In this article, the pros of fracking are that it can provide a successful for someone so that they can provide for themselves and their family. The photographs are very detailed. They make you feel as though you are living through this person’s life along side him.

    Lisa Song, who wrote “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” focuses on a San Antonio woman whose health has been affected by nearby fracking. The story shows how the uptick in fracking has increased the toxins put into the air and how that has had adverse affects on the residents who live nearby. The story also talks about how legislators seem to be on the side of the fracking industry and not the people being negatively affected by the fracking. The stakeholders are people who may live near oil rigs and fracking sights who also may have had their health affected by fracking and they are featured very prominently. Song presents the cons of fracking as people developing health issues due to the toxic chemicals that are put into the air. The photographs make the reader feel as though they are living near an oil rig, as though the are the ones who are breathing in those toxic chemicals.

  17. JoeSiess says:

    The first article, “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” is your typical pro-fossil fuel industry propaganda piece that seeks to legitimize ruthless pursuit of prophet in the name of fleeting economic prosperity at the expense of both the environment and human health.

    The piece unfolds upon a down-home anecdote about the author’s father who struck it big in Texas, and then was able to provide a superior lifestyle for his family. The rags-to-riches theme is the framework in which the peace is built.

    The framing of the text glorifies the wobbly ethos of the American Dream, and it succeeds in appealing to the basic human desires for family, stability and economic security. However, while the article successfully appeals to these desires, it neglects to sufficiently weigh the consequences of relative prosperity within the context of the Texas fracking boom.

    The photos included in this piece tell very much the same story. Sleek towers rise along the dusty range. The photos seem to proclaim: ‘The sky is the limit in Texas and we’ve got the smiling young families to prove it.”

    The photo of Cody Wyatt in his ten gallon hat embracing his young pregnant wife Glori standing in front of their brand spanking new cookie cutter house out in some kind of sweltering Texan piss-puddle-oil-boom suburb pretty much sums it all up here. This picture depicts the modern fun-house conception of the American Dream.

    The new house behind the happy young family might portray prosperity and financial stability thanks to the black gold flowing beneath the earth, but the grim reality of the situation is that their prosperity was rabidly clawed from the dying land. The madness in all of this is baked into its glorification.

    The second article, “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” in my opinion, is far more tethered to reality than the previous one. The piece is framed in such a way that acknowledges “Oil money is so thoroughly ingrained in the Texas culture and economy that there is little interest in or sympathy for those who have become collateral damage in the drive for riches.”

    The stakeholders highlighted in this piece are the people in the direct line of fire.The use of statistics provides a logical approach to a topic that requires a critical lens. The article highlights the systematic negligence of both the fracking industry and the Texas government, mentioning that, “Texas officials tasked with overseeing the industry are often the strongest defenders”.

    The piece portrays a toxic fracking industry in bed with corrupt officials who all seem to benefit while people breath the noisome fumes.

    Finally, in the first piece, while it focused primarily on the pros generated by the fracking industry, it also touched upon the cons. In contrast, the second piece only focused on the cons.

  18. In the first story, the writer uses a lot of his family’s experiences and his own. He also mostly talks to people that work for the fracking companies. They are mostly treated like they are every day workers trying to make their way in tough times.
    In the second story, the writer talked with citizens and also used info from politicians, the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News, The Weather Channel, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Most statements were checked against other sources to verify validity.

    Pretty much both stories stick to their frames. The first one does not really examine the negatives of fracking itself, only potential economic issues of the boom. The second one only looks at the problems with fracking, not often giving potential positives. The first’s photos are all polished, staged and brightly colored. There is not really any variety. The second has one photo, and it is harrowing and ominous. Both story’s photo clearly reflect the intent of their respective frames.

  19. Ben Borst says:

    “Do Y’all Smell That?” clearly frames fracking as a positive but suffers from a fairly biased approach. The way it positively portrays fracking and neglects to really point out how bad it is for the environment is just one way the bias is overwhelming in pro fossil fuels favor. The pictures taken in the piece also emphasize the positive framing of fracking. Credit where it’s due, the photographer snapped some uplifting and positive photos. It made the piece lighter overall and totally reinforced the positive frame. It seems pretty clear that the family as well as the employees were the stakeholders of the story since it revolved around them. We saw how great things were with the family when working for the oil business and we saw them go through rough times. It definitely appeals to the reader’s emotions since this is a real story about real people. This also can be seen as the piece’s biggest downfall because the facts and statistics presented are promote more of the positives than exploiting negatives.

    On the other hand, “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents” neglects to appeal to the emotions and develop an opinion through an example and instead hits you with all of the negative facts about oil drilling. The only notable correlation in terms of personalizing the story is when the article includes a source that has been negatively impacted by the toxins released from oil drilling. Aside from that, the article uses a variety of sources that tell you a lot about fracking and the issues with it. The stakeholders present in this piece are residents that live close to fracking areas who have negative relationship with the oil drilling industry. Finally, the pictures in the piece are very graphic-based and show tons of statistics. The featured image of the piece is the only one that differs. It appeals to the senses and does a great job captivating the reader and pointing out immediately the dangers of the fracking industry.

  20. ginnyward says:

    In “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” the author uses data from different national institutes and commissions to support different figures, whether they be dollar amounts or percentages. In “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” sources include many personal accounts by employees of the fracking industry or studies that showcase the economic benefits the industry has on the region.

    In “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” the stakeholders are residents in Texas counties affected by toxic air. In “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” the oil industry and its employees are the stakeholders.

    In “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” the cons of fracking are health-related. In “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” the pros of fracking relate to the economic benefits.

    In “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents,” infographics are used to display the health problems produced by fracking. A photo of a medicine mask shows just how much damage the toxic has done on individuals. In “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money,” individuals are pictured as proud and confident. Yet, the woman on pg. 125 lives in a tent and struggles to take care of her family. Advertisements are also scattered throughout the article that promote fracking.

  21. The two articles Scott assigned in class could not be more different in their descriptions of the Fracking Industry. Even before reading the pieces, readers can basically deduct that the article headlined “Fracking Boom spews toxic air emissions on Texas residents,” probably isn’t going to describe the industry in a positive light. “Y’all smell that?” by Bryan Mealer, a long-form magazine piece about the industry, is a lot more approving of fracking. Mealer frames his piece through several different techniques. His use of large, vibrant photos of blue skies and powerful businessmen give the reader a sense that the oil industry is important to the state of Texas. While making his arguments for the industry, Mealer uses several narratives and anecdotes about families moving to Texas to make their own fortune in oil. The writer plays on the readers’ heartstrings by comparing the fracking industry to the “American dream.” Mealer is successful in the way he frames his article. Readers want to read about everyday people and their stories and he uses this to his advantage.

    The second article differs greatly from Mealer’s piece. Instead of using a lot of long, personal narratives, the writers of this piece use data to back up their arguments. Although this use of concrete data and factual studies certainly makes the article more believable, the piece fails to pull the reader in the way the first piece did. The authors had a great story idea and fantastic data to back up their arguments, but the framing relied too heavily on numbers and data and not enough on the people affected.

  22. Like Scott Swafford said, the difference of frames between these two stories on fracking is pretty obvious.

    Texas Monthly’s article is mainly told from the author’s point of view, an author whose family has been heavily involved in the fracking business. It focuses on the financial prosperity as a result of the business, instead of discussing any of the environmental factors that refute the pro-fossil fuel argument.
    The author begins with his own story about his father’s and grandfather’s long-time involvement in the oil industry. He appeals to the idea that this boom in Texas led to an American Dream ideal, even mentioning how it helped his grandfather bounce back from the Great Depression. This immediately forms a bias throughout the story, knowing that this is a subject the author takes a lot of pride in. He continues this familial theme throughout the article, telling the stories of other families and employees that have prospered from the industry. The stakeholders in this story are only people that benefit from the fracking business, and it neglects to mention the people it negatively effects.
    The Texas Monthly article features large pictures of oil towers with a vast, clear sky behind them and many positive oil industry advertisements throughout. The author’s support for the prosperous business is not subtle and works to emphasize the positive results, and he only slightly touches on the negative.

    On the other hand, the Inside Climate News’ story starts with a personal anecdote that conveys the negative effects that fracking has on the air. The article describes how the oil industry will stop at nothing to continue prospering, even if that means harming Texas residents. It writes, “The health issues faced by people who live in drilling areas—not just in Texas but throughout the United States—simply don’t carry enough weight to counterbalance the financial benefits derived from oil and gas development, said Robert Forbis Jr., an assistant professor of political science at Texas Tech University.”
    It uses statistics and experts to highlight the cons involved in the toxic fracking process. The article focuses on the people directly affected by the unclean air; these are the stakeholders. It frames the topic in a bad light, basically summarizing that the powerful continue to benefit and prosper from the industry, while the residents continue to breathe toxic air. This article directly emphasizes only the cons and does not shed light on the pros.

  23. Oooh… these articles… shine a pretty bright light on the potency of framing. These could be stories about two completely different places.

    I tackled “Do Y’all Smell That” first. Full disclosure, I was extremely cynical and skeptical even before I read the first paragraph. The whole thing just reeked of corporate interests, institutional framing and total disregard for the environment… in an attempt to placate myself, I command + F’d and searched the article for any mentions of ‘pollution’ (0 mentions) ‘EPA’ (0 mentions) ‘environment’ (2, exceedingly empty and boilerplate-y mentions). Now I’d gone from dismissive to angrily dismissive.

    Granted – the article was well written and well researched, structured solidly and overall a sound, deep piece of reporting. But the author struck me as inextricably rooted in his view of development as holy and the way money had magically transformed oil-boom country as trumping all other narratives. The sourcing is telling – interview a few more oilmen and politicians who have benefited from the boom, why don’t ya, Bryan Mealy?

    In any piece of reporting about fracking – albeit a 26 page dissertation – there should be mention of the practice’s effects on the environment. That’s not to say that the way families are being enriched and communities are being strengthened isn’t a worthwhile thing to report on. But context is key. This guy writes like he’s getting a commission from ExxonMobil, and if he isn’t, he should be. Take off your rose-colored glasses, Bryan.

    Shifting now to the inside climate article. My reaction, summed succinctly: “Hell yeah, stick it to ’em!”

    The most important reporting won’t always be pretty, nor will it be easy to comprehend. The most important reporting makes us uncomfortable and angry. The most important reporting is distrustful of power, makes it hard to turn away and makes our stomachs turn. This piece did that.

    The tenacity and relentlessness with which the authors lay out the facts, and the structuring layout they use, with which they juxtapose climate data and assertions of wrongdoing against the maneuverings of government and oil officials, is damning. Fracking sucks!

  24. kimyehyun79 says:

    The two stories frame fracking in a very different way.
    The story titled “Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money” sheds lights on the oil industry more positively. Photographs, sources and even advertisements contribute to describing fracking as something that brings jobs and makes the American dream still viable. Almost every photo includes blue skies and shiny sunshine, and the subjects have a confident posture with their shoulders wide open. Robertson, who made a fortune by finding a well, is described as a hero who fulfilled an American dream with his own hunch and adventurous spirit. Although the downsides of the booming industry in Texas, such as drugs and prostitution at the oil site, are mentioned, they are minimized shortly, by saying as follows: “But I never encountered the stereotypical coke-snorting roughneck who lived out of his pickup—that stock character from the West Texas of my childhood.” Instead of of focusing on the problems of fracking, the merits are more highlighted throughout the story. For instance, the increasing tax revenues, improving public facilities as a result and the growth of service industries for on-site workers took up a larger part of the article. Even advertisements in the story play a role in bolstering the argument. All of the advertisements in the article have positive messages. One says “Texas oils producers work together to keep domestic energy strong,” implying that the industry is in the public interest.

    The second article titled “Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents” makes an effective use of sources and graphics to explain health issues related to fracking. Whereas the storyteller in the first story is a family member of people in the oil industry, the storyteller in the second story is an investigating journalist. This encourages readers to judge on the issue more objectively. Additionally, main sources in the second article are public health experts and residents near drilling areas who are worried about or suffer from health issues in relation to oil drilling. Opening the story with a woman who uses an inhaler due to asthma emphasizes health impacts as well. Infographics of drilling locations and complaints explain the severity of the health issue instead of emphasizing positive sides of fracking with photos.

  25. It is obvious that the two articles contain opposing perspectives and arguments, which is apparent through the stories’ angles and photographs. While “Y’all Smell That…” clearly presents the glory associated with the oil industry, “Fracking Booms Spews…” acknowledges the environmental and health problems caused by the oil and gas industries.

    While the angles of these two stories are entirely polarized, this is largely because of the sources and their personal stories. Both articles analyze two distinct families that come from different sides of the oil industry; “Y’all Smell That…” features the perspective of a wealthy oil tycoon’s son, while “Fracking Boom Spews…” includes the story of a woman who relies on a respirator because of the fumes from the oil and gas industries. The son in “Y’all Smell That…” creates an “American Dream” visual in which a Texan family obtains economic prosperity through investing in a prosperous industry. The article mentions the family living in extreme wealth—they drive Rolls-Royces and the father is able to buy a semi-pro football team. However, this is not the case in the second article. In “Fracking Boom Spews…” they tell a concerning story of Texan residents not being able to enjoy the outdoors because of harmful fumes, as well as present research on how the oil and gas industries are polluting the environment.

    Aside from the stories’ angles, the photographs used in both also present opposing viewpoints. “Y’all Smell That…” features colorful photos, highlighting pure clouds and large machinery. These photos attempt to influence feelings of appreciation and awe towards the industry. However, “Fracking Booms Spews…” contains scientific diagrams and interactive maps that explain Fracking and its harmful emissions to a non-expert audience, as well as where Fracking in Karnes County, Texas occurs.

    Thus, the two articles have entirely different goals—one aims to glorify the oil industry and its prosperity, while the other aims to educate and inform a general audience of its negative influence on the environment and health.

  26. One of the biggest framing difference is the larger cultural narrative that each story plugs into. (And this goes beyond a simple ‘fracking is good / fracking is bad’ binary). Bryan Mealer — “Y’all Smell That?” — taps into this idea that the boom/bust cycle of the oil industry is Texas’s own version of the American Dream: “the dream flourishes in every boom, or at least a feverish version of it.” It’s this idea that the fracking phenomenon is, in a fundamental way, democratic. If you’re smart enough or quick enough or forward thinking enough — or just lucky enough — you can grab a piece of the action. You can MAKE something of yourself in the rush.

    The Inside Climate News (ICN) piece draws on a different democratic frame: that ordinary people who aren’t interested in the allure of fracking riches are having their lives “disrupted.” That’s what all the charts of emissions and data on lethal chemicals builds towards — the idea that there’s a fundamental conflict between what these oil and gas companies are doing and the citizens’ right to live their own healthy lives.

    Each of these ‘big picture’ frames is built out of smaller choices. The sources each author(s) spoke to are good examples.

    In Mealer’s article, people like Richard Dockery (the real estate broker) who have profited from the fracking boom are given very prominent places. Dockery is, for Mealer, practically an embodiment of the Dream: “To me, Richard captured the relentless opportunism of the oil patch. He wasn’t a big player, but he possessed a keen instinct for the small- and medium-sized deals that abound in any boom.” Mealer also devotes space to exploring the labor force — those who live in the “man camps.” I don’t think he intentionally glorifies their work, but he does at least try to give them a sense of dignity. They buying into the Dream too.

    ICN tries to talk to a lot of institutional actors, but those officials generally refuse to comment. In their absence, it’s the voices of the people harmed who are elevated. The article opens with Lynn Buehring’s story of being physically affected by nearby fracking. It dwells on her pain: “Sometimes Buehring’s eyes burn, her chest tightens and pain stabs at her temples. On those days, she touches her inhaler for reassurance.”

    Yet, there’s a bit of nuance in both cases — each narrative seems to bleed into the other, when you compare them side by side.

    Mealer talks to Tanya Mendez, the woman who’s family can’t afford to live in their community anymore. She is someone who isn’t included in the Dream precisely because she’s not striving to enrich herself from the fracking boom: “‘I’ll see something for rent and call immediately,’ [Mendez] said. ‘But the first thing out of their mouth is ‘Are y’all crew members?’ When I tell them no, they basically hang up the phone.’” In the end, though, Mealer choses to close with Dockery’s success and his own father’s philosophical resignation: “’Yessir, that’s the oil business.’”

    Likewise, ICN speaks with the Jonas family who have prospered from the boom. Theirs is a story that would fit right into Mealer’s frame: husband and wife worked very hard for many years, had a lot of bad years, and made a fortune when the boom happened. They held onto their land and it payed them back manyfold. Unlike Mealer’s article, though, ICN choses to end on this perspective of prosperity. It feels more open ended, even in the central narrative is one of people’s oppression.

    It’s not ‘balance’ in either case, I don’t think. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment of competing narratives, even if the authors don’t want to deviate completely from their own. ICN is maybe a little more willing than Mealer to do that.

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