Framing Deservingness in Canadian News Media

Framing Deservingness in Canadian News Media

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  12:30 - 2 p.m.
  223 Moses Hall
Rebecca Wallace

Research on the framing of social assistance in Canadian print media suggests that news coverage is “race-coded”, whereby Indigenous and immigrant recipients of welfare are frequently portrayed as more or less deserving than non-Indigenous, native-born Canadians across a number of deservingness criteria. Although this research uncovers important findings regarding the media’s use of race or country or origin as a marker of difference in conveying assumptions about one’s deservingness, critical questions remain about the effects of such news coverage on Canadian public opinion. Indeed, what are the effects of these deservingness frames on attitudes toward social assistance recipients and support for redistribution more generally? And, perhaps more importantly, how do these frame effects potentially differ based on the recipients’ assumed race or country of origin?

This presentation reports on the results of a custom-designed framing experiment that aims to understand how two prominent news frames come to affect attitudes toward Indigenous and immigrant recipients of welfare. The findings of this experiment indicate that the frames can have a significant impact on perceptions of recipients’ deservingness and attitudes toward redistribution more generally. These effects, however, are conditioned by the beneficiaries’ identity as an Indigenous or immigrant recipient. Results, implications, and future research will be discussed.