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TAIWAN ONLINE NEWSPAPER COVERAGE:
THE FRAMING OF THE 2004 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This thesis is dedicated to my parents and two brothers,
whom I love and support throughout my life.
I thank God, who has sent me so many messengers to fulfill my graduate school
career in this foreign country.
I am grateful to the chair of my supervisory committee, Dr. Marilyn Roberts, for
her kind patience, guidance, and encouragement on my thesis research. Her thorough
editing and interpretation of the language in my thesis were absolutely invaluable. I also
thank my lovely committee members, Dr. Leonard Tipton and Dr. Johanna Cleary, for
their constant assistance and support for this thesis and my other classes.
I thank my close Christian friends, Donna Miller, Therese McGee, Linda Sorrel,
and Marg Humphries, who helped soothe my tense spirit and go through the cultural
shock. I also thank the countless American, Taiwanese and Chinese friends who never
hesitated in helping my endless needs. Without their support, I would not have had
enough courage to complete this thesis.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
LIST OF TABLES ........ .......................................... .................. .... .. vii
A B S T R A C T .......................................... .................................................. v iii
1 IN TRODU CTION ................................................. ...... .................
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ......................................................... ..............4
F ram in g ........................................................................................ . 4
Second-Level A genda Setting .............................................................. ...............5
R research Q uestions............ ................................................................ .. ......... . .
3 M E TH O D O L O G Y ..................................................................... .......................... 9
N ew paper Selection ....................................................... 9
China Times .............................. ...... ... ................ 10
U united D aily N ew s ................................................. .......... .............. 11
L ib erty T im es ...............................................................12
C ontent A analysis D esign .................................................. .............................. 13
N ew spaper Sam ple M ethods ...................................... ........................................ 13
C o d in g D e sig n ............................................................................................... 14
4 R E S U L T S ........................................................................................................1 6
Story O rig in s....................................................... 16
S election n o f S o u rce s ............................................................................................. 18
F ra m in g ................................................................................................................. 2 1
H deadline Fram es .............................................................................. 23
D eb ate fram e ............................................................2 3
C am p aig n fram e ..................................................................................... 2 6
B u sh fra m e ............................................................................................. 3 2
K erry fram e .............................................................34
Foreign-policy frame ....................................................... 36
Tension fram e ..................................... ............. ...... ................. 42
L ead F ram es ................................................................4 4
D eb ate fram e ............................................................44
C am paign fram e ............................................... .. .............. .............48
B u sh fra m e .............................................................................................. 5 1
K erry fram e .............................................................52
Foreign-policy frame......... ......... ......... ........................ 54
Tension frame ..... ......... ......... .......... .........59
5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ............................................... ............... 61
D eb ate F ram e .............. ................................................................................62
C am paign F ram e ........................ ...... ...................... .. .... ........ ........63
F foreign P policy Fram e ........................ .................... ......................... 64
T en sion F ram e ................................................................6 5
L im station s of the Stu dy ...................................................................... ..................67
Suggestions for Future Study .............. ..................................... 68
A C O D IN G SH EE T ...................... .......................... ....... ... ....... ..69
B C O D IN G G U ID E L IN E S ............................................. ..........................................7 1
L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ......... ................. ........................................ .......................... 74
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................77
LIST OF TABLES
3-1 The sampling dates for research analysis...................................... ............... 14
4-1 Story origins of China Times by frames..................... ..................... ................ 16
4-2 Story origins of United Daily News by frames ..................................................... 17
4-3 Story origins ofLiberty Times by frames............................................................18
4-4 Selection of sources in China Times frames .................................... ............... 19
4-5 Selection of sources in United Daily News frame..................................................20
4-6 Selection of sources in Liberty Times fram e...................................................... 21
4-7 Numbers of articles coded and framed ....................................... ...............21
4-8 Frames and frequency of articles categorized by frames in China Times, United
D aily N ew s, and Liberty Tim es ........................................... ......................... 22
4-9 Numbers of campaign coverage in October and November by themes in Liberty
T im es ...............................................................................5 0
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
TAIWAN ONLINE NEWSPAPER COVERAGE :
THE FRAMING OF THE 2004 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Chair: Marilyn S. Roberts
Major Department: Journalism and Communications
Many nations watched with curiosity and much international news coverage
focused on the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. One country that was particularly
interested in the out of the election was the island of Taiwan. The heated campaign
battle's outcome between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry for the next
President of the United States had implications for future foreign policy directions.
Taiwan along with other countries' media covered issues of particular concern. This
study examined news coverage from the three most popular and influential online
versions of newspapers in Taiwan-China Times, United Daily News and Liberty
Times-during the period of September 2 through November 15, 2004, which included
post-election coverage. The research focused on three major research questions. First,
how did Taiwan online newspapers frame news about the 2004 U.S. presidential
campaign? Second, how did these online newspapers frame news about the Republican
candidate President Bush and Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry in terms of
favorable or unfavorable coverage? Third, what were the differences in election coverage
among the three online newspapers? Analyses revealed that the three news media shared
three common frames. These were "the debate frame," "the campaign frame," and "the
foreign policy frame." An additional frame, referred to as "the campaign tension frame,"
was used by the United Daily New; the paper also divided "the campaign frame" into
separate and distinguishable "Bush" and "Kerry" frames. In particular, findings suggest
that United Daily News and Liberty Times were two distinct newspapers that appeared to
favor different candidates. United Daily News appeared to contain more favorable
coverage of Democratic candidate Kerry, while the Liberty Times' coverage appeared to
be more favorable toward President Bush. Both papers may have attempted to frame their
coverage in order to demonstrate their preference to their specific readers. In contrast, the
China Times appeared to show no specific preference toward either Bush or Kerry.
Instead, the China Times appeared to use objective framing in its election coverage of the
campaign. The research also discussed its limitations and suggestions for future research.
In this increasingly globalized world, the government elected in the United States
and its foreign policies have an increasingly powerful impact on people in other
countries. Also, the attitudes of people around the world toward the U.S. government and
its foreign policies have greater implications for U.S. affairs, due to the increasing
political and economic engagement. The election of the U.S. president is certainly one of
the most significant global events that may have extraordinary impact on the lives of
people in the world, and the global reactions to this event are likely to have significant
consequences for the U.S as well. Therefore, how people around the world receive their
information and shape their impressions toward the U.S. president and U.S. political
parties is becoming more important. Examining the global media coverage of the U.S.
presidential campaign can provide a clearer understanding of what stories get reported in
the media and shape the global audience or readers' opinions over time.
In the 2004 U.S. presidential election campaign, the candidates' foreign policy
positions toward East Asia were of high concern among Chinese. The security in this
region will be determined by the attitudes of the newly elected president, particularly on
the issue of Taiwan's independence from mainland China. The Republic of China
(Taiwan) and People's Republic of China (mainland China) have dealt with the
differences in the interpretation of the "One China" policy for more than 50 years. No
doubt, the status of Taiwan is one of the most delicate issues in relations between
mainland China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan. The United States has vowed to
defend democracy against any mainland Chinese attack. China's ballistic missile force is
a destabilizing factor in the trilateral relationship among the United States, China, and
Taiwan. While these missiles not only directly threaten Taiwan, they also threaten U.S.
forces deployed in East Asia, when they are tied down in the Middle East. An important
part of the U.S. commitment to security in the Asia-Pacific region is its role in helping
Taiwan to build and maintain its self-defense capability.
The Bush Administration is the most "pro-Taiwan" administration since the United
States broke relations with Taiwan and recognized the mainland Chinese regime in 1979
(Dreyer, 2000), while continuing to abide by the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act
(TRA)- the foundation for the commitment to democracy. The TRA instructs the U.S.
President and the Congress to make determinations based on the judgment of Taiwan's
needs, in accordance with U.S. foreign policy and interest in the region. The interaction
has allowed the U.S. and Taiwan to work together effectively for the past 20 years. Like
previous administrations, however, the Bush Administration also recognizes the value of
engaging mainland China, whose cooperation is essential if the United States hopes to
address a wide range of pressing global problems, including terrorism, the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, health issues, and the nuclear
crisis in North Korea, to name just a few. The friendship between the U.S. and Taiwan
showed signs of strain after independent-inclined Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian
was re-elected in the presidential election in May 2004. Chen's disputed narrow victory
has not only revealed the inner conflict of ethnic identity among Taiwanese, but also
increased the chances of a future confrontation and conflict with mainland China and the
United States. This thesis examines how three major newspapers framed the online
coverage of the 2004 U.S. presidential election.
The purpose of this study was to examine how the online versions of three major
Taiwanese newspapers-China Times, United Daily News, and Liberty Times- framed
the campaign, the parties, and the candidates regarding to the 2004 presidential election
of the United States. The thesis is separated into five chapters. The introduction explores
a brief discussion of the historical view in the relations of Taiwan, China and the U.S.
and is followed by a review of relevant literature on press coverage of election
campaigns. Next, the study defines and summarizes the concept of second-level agenda
setting and framing. Through a framing analysis, the researcher explores the media's role
in the social construction of reality related to the foreign policy. The third chapter
discusses the methodology of content analysis that is applied in the study, followed by
the findings of the study. The final chapter contains a discussion of the overall
conclusions in the study, as well as the study's limitations and recommendations for
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Theories of framing create a way to analyze critically how the media present an
issue or event and tell the public how and what to think about. The central idea suggests
that "framing focuses on the particular way in which issues and topics are presented, and
on the ways public problems are formulated for the media audience" (Ghanem, 1997, p.
7). Generally, framing scholars would "look at the constructed nature of media messages,
and often examine media portrayals of issues as clues to journalists' framing decisions.
These framing decisions, in turn, provide important evidence about the flow of power in
society" (Maher, 2001, p. 88).
One definition of media frame that is widely used is "the central organizing idea for
news content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of
selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration" by Tankard, Hendrickson, Silberman,
Bliss, & Ghanem (1991, p.3). Another definition says that "frames call attention to some
aspects of reality while obscuring other elements, which might lead audiences to have
different reactions" (Ghanem, 1997, p. 6). By organizing complex news topics around
distinctive arguments and themes, with or without chosen words, phrases and quotes
while concurrently downplaying others, journalists help to shape an issue's deeper
meanings and implications for the public (Nelson, Oxley, and Clawson 1997; Shah
2001). The sources cited and those ignored by the media can have a significant effect on
the salience of the political campaign on the media agenda, which leads to the salience of
the same issue on the public agenda. With this in mind, the framing of the 2004 U.S.
presidential election campaign may powerfully influence Taiwanese public opinion
concerning U.S. presidential performance and future foreign policy positions, especially
during periods when high levels of media coverage exist and the campaign becomes a
Second-Level Agenda Setting
News reports not only present an agenda of issues, but also an agenda of attributes
that vary considerably in salience. The agendas of attributes have been called "the second
level" of agenda setting to distinguish them from the first level that has traditionally
focused on issues (Weaver, McCombs, & Shaw, 2004, p. 259). Second-level agenda
setting explores how media coverage influences not only people's perceived salience of
public issues, but also on their understanding of the substance of those issues. In this
sense, how an issue is presented by what attributes or characteristics can influence how
salient the whole issue or object is considered to be. Basically, "the first level of agenda
setting is the transmission of object salience, and the second level is the transmission of
attribute salience" (McComb & Ghanem, 2001, p. 69). A useful starting definition of
second-level agenda setting is offered by Ghanem (1997):
Basically, the first level of agenda setting deals with the selection of issues by the
news media and its impact on the public agenda ... The second level of agenda
setting deals with the influence of the particular elements of an issue on the
public's agenda of attributes. (p. 8)
Golan, Lee, and Wanta (2004) also clarify second level agenda setting by stating:
The second level ... implies a more subtle form of media effect ...While coverage
of the object continues to influence the perceived importance of that object-as
first-level agenda setting argues-second-level agenda setting implies that the
attributes linked to the object in the news media are mentally linked to the object by
the public. Thus, while first-level agenda setting suggests media coverage
influences what we think about, second-level agenda setting suggests media
coverage influences how we think. (p. 367)
The theory of second-level agenda setting is not only about how issues and political
actors are reported and perceived, but also what is emphasized in such reporting by news
media. The sub-issue level "can influence the perspective with which people see the issue
as whole" (Takeshita, 1997, p. 23). Moreover, "it tends to support a positive correlation
and a causal relationship between media agendas and public agendas at the aggregate
level, especially for relatively unobtrusive issues that do not directly impact the lives of
the majority of the public, such as foreign policy and government scandal "(McCombs,
Shaw, & Weaver, 2001, p. 258).
When the news media report on public issues or political candidates, they describe
these attributes of the political campaign, characteristics or traits of the candidates, such
as their political ability, leadership, and experience, with the salience or prominence of
various phenomena (McCombs, Shaw, & Weaver, 2004). Descriptions of objects can be
simple and discrete, such as a person's age or marital status, or highly complex, such as
fiscal conservative or national hero" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p. 74).
McCombs et al suggest that candidates' images in the content analysis were
organized along two dimensions: (1) substantive, which included candidates' ideology
and issue positions, qualifications and experience, and personal characteristics and
personality; and (2) affective, where candidates were described and evaluated in positive,
negative, or neutral term (McCombs et al., 2004, p. 261), dealing with the public's
emotional response that may result from media coverage. Moreover, Ghanem (1997, p.
12) proposed a "cognitive dimension," where candidates were focused on problems,
causes or solutions. It deals with general cognitive categories that might shed light on
whether the media and the audience are thinking about the problem in the same way.
Candidate attributes emphasized by the media would become salient features of the
images of the candidates held by voters, at least for the substantive dimension of images,
such as political ability, experience, leadership, and political style (King, 1997). Salience
is key to any attempt to put a certain slant or interpretation on the candidates. By
highlighting or emphasizing certain attributes, the media can influence not only what
people think about, but how people think about it. The current study only focuses on the
substantive and affective dimensions and specific attributes that appeared on the media
agenda of the three online versions of major Taiwanese newspapers.
Despite the difference between agenda setting and framing, the basic perspective of
agenda setting theory- "media told us what to think"- has been looked at with the
perspective of framing theory, which helps researchers to see through the "detail" of an
object, such as a presidential candidate; an event or issue, such as the presidential
debates; a concept, such as anti-Bush sentiment, in order to tell us how to think. It is also
the idea that attribute agenda-setting suggests that- media tell us how to think. Thus, in
McCombs and Ghanem's first paragraph of"The convergence of agenda setting and
framing," stated, "One result of the continuing explication of agenda-setting theory over
recent decades is that these two research traditions now share considerable common
ground" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p. 67). They further argued the advantages of the
convergence of the two perspectives, mainly because "the traditional emphases of the
framing and agenda-setting research traditions complement each other to considerable
degree" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p. 69). "Attribute agenda setting explicitly
integrates the theory with framing research" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p. 69).
In order to understand how media construct a frame, McCombs and Ghanem
defined in advance the connections between the theories of agenda-setting and framing.
They pointed out that "framing is the construction of an agenda with a restricted number
of thematically related attributes in order to create a coherent picture of a particular
object" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p. 70). Frames can be attributes sometimes in a
narrow definition, because "frames typically are macro-attributes, often containing a mix
of cognitive and affective elements. Frames further can be distinguished as attributes that
describe aspects of an object, or as attributes that characterize the dominant traits of an
object and are the central theme of a particular message" (McCombs & Ghanem, 2001, p.
78). Maher suggested that "agenda-setting scholars see a frame as an attribute of an
object that assumes the researcher-specified object, such as issue or candidate, is the
starting point, and that a frame is simply one of many kinds of attributes that a researcher
might attach to the object" (Maher, 2001, p. 88).
1. How did Taiwan online newspapers frame news about the 2004 U.S. presidential
2. What did the three online papers frame news of the Republican candidate President
Bush and Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry in terms of favorable or
3. What were the differences in election coverage among the three online
This current study examined news coverage from three of the most popular and
influential online versions of newspapers in Taiwan- China Times, United Daily News
and Liberty News-during the period of September 2 through November 15, 2004. This
time frame was chosen to better compare how the presidential campaign was covered by
media during the general election leading up to Election Day on November 2, 2004, as
well as for a few days afterward, when the related coverage was still on the agenda of the
foreign news in the three newspapers.
The three papers were considered suitable for the study for three main reasons:
their different ownership types, their critical influence on politics, and their respective
circulations or readership characteristics.
Taiwan has a population of 23 million. It has 352 newspapers registered, and about
110 are frequently published (Yen, Bou-Ho, 2003). China Times and United Daily News
were the two most widely read newspapers from 1965 to 1995; both their circulation and
readership are supported by advertising revenue. The two publications are dominant in
Taiwan's newspaper industry. However, the supremacy of these two publications was
challenged by the swift resurrection and revivification of an old competitor- Liberty
Times. Consequentially, the competitive market is now spilt among the three.
According to an electronic information search of several Chinese libraries, such as
Shanghai Library (http://www.library.sh.cn/new-eng/), Lingnan University Digital
Library (http://www.library.ln.edu.hk/), National Library Board (http://www.lib.gov.sg/),
and Biblioteca Central de Macau (http://www.library.gov.mo/), the circulation of China
Times was reported as 1,180,000 readers; the circulation of United Daily News was
1,000,000 in 1980, increasing each year. According to the website retrieved from Editor
& Publisher's International Yearbook, the circulation of United Daily News was reported
as 1,300,000, and China Times was 1,270,000 in 1998; in 1999, United Daily News was
1,200,000 and China Times was 900,000. Liberty Times kept its circulation a secret.
According to Teng's (1997) article published in Sino magazine "Hard-pressed: Taiwan's
newspapers battle for readers," Liberty Times claimed 1,000,000 circulation in an
editorial on June 5, 1996. These circulations can not represent total readership because
more and more newspapers were delivered for free, due to Taiwan's vicious newspaper
competition (especially after Liberty Times joined the battle).
Founded in January, 1950, in Taipei, China Times Publishing claims it is number
one in the Chinese publishing world and regards itself as the most objective and reliable
newspaper in Taiwan. The founder of China Times, Yu Chi-Chung, was a chairman of
China Daily newspaper and spokesman for the National government in Northeast China.
With his ample political and journalism experience, Mr. Yu led the paper to a freer stance
in politics and speech, which many scholars, politicians and entrepreneurs used to
consider indicative of political revolution.
China Times become a privately owned and non-partisan newspaper after Mr. Yu
resigned the official position. China Times is very famous for its high quality and elite
inclination. It is said to be Taiwan's equivalent to the New York Times in the U.S. One of
its 20 family members- China Times Weekly also prevails over other magazines. Its
market strategy is positioned as an elite newspaper, with about 45.5 % elite readers,
compared to 33% of United Daily News and 30% of Liberty Times.
United Daily News
United Daily News was the first issued newspaper in Taiwan. It was formed by the
merger of three newspapers and founded in Taipei on September 16, 1951. It has long
been one of the three biggest and most influential national newspapers with the largest
circulation in Taiwan. Over the past fifty years, United Daily News has been through the
democratic progress of Taiwan society, economy, politics and cultural changes. The
public considers it as a prestigious paper known for its comprehensive news coverage,
objective news judgment, unbiased commentary and responsive service
Its founder, Ti-wu Wang, was well known as Taiwan's first press magnate, and
held a strong political view that was "anti-communism, democracy, unification and
progress." Thus, United Daily News was distinctly inclined to nationalism, particularly
because of Wang's stance for pro-reunifying Nationalists, and strong objections to the
pro-independent Democratic Progress Party. Although the political stance of the
newspaper has become more objective, the feelings toward nationalism still exist.
As the biggest Chinese newspaper group in the world, United Daily News
newsgroup based in Taipei gathers news professionals from United Daily News,
Economic Daily News, Min .\ing Daily, United Evening News, Star News, Europe
Journal (Europe), Thai Journal (South East Asia), World Journal (North America),
Chinese Daily News and udn.com-produced content. In 1999, the electronic version of
newspaper,- Udnnews.com, was launched and is said to be the biggest news provider of
online and information delivery to the Chinese community. In order to extend readers'
world view and English-language ability, United Daily News contracted with the New
York Times, adding two pages of content from the New York Times every Monday since
August 30, 2004. According to the electronic version of United Daily News-
udnnews.com, readers in the 20-39 age brackets make up more than 60% of the
readership of the overall United Daily News.
Supplying readers with first-hand news information, the news stories about
America in United Daily News mainly are provided by one of its family members-
World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper in North America. The circulation leader
of Chinese newspapers in the United States has influenced Chinese immigrants in New
York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Vancouver, and Toronto. It
has reported a 90,000 circulation in New York area and more than 360,000 in the whole
of the United States (http://big5.china.com.cn/chinese/CU-c/444446.htm).
From the beginning, Liberty Times had a strong financial pattern of heavy
commercialism and capitalism. With the financial support of the chairman and founder
Lin's abundant financial resources and political support by Lee, Teng-huei, Taiwan's first
directly elected president, Liberty Times sprang up promptly and successfully in the
fierce newspaper competition. Liberty Times spent huge amounts of money on promotion
to attract subscriptions by giving presents of gold, cars or motorcycles. It modified the
developmental history of the news industry, and made an important point in the
competition within the traditional news industry.
Although Liberty Times Group follows the "Taiwan First, Liberty Foremost"
concept, emphasizing professional and non-partisan reporting, it leans politically toward
Taiwan's independence and freedom. It is often considered a leftist newspaper. It is also
the most popular newspaper of the three among younger readers and college students.
According to a poll conducted by the college newspaper-MingPao in 2003, 32% of
students of mass communication colleges in Taiwan read Liberty Times, 26.5% read
China Times, and 19.9% read United Daily News.
Content Analysis Design
All coverage of 2004 U.S. presidential campaign from September 2, 2004, to
November 15, 2004, was chosen and downloaded daily from online editions of the three
papers. The total population of online articles before constructed weeks were created was
886 individual articles. The population consisted of 212 online articles in China Times,
495 in United Daily Times, and 179 in Liberty Times prior to the sampling. Articles
chosen for framing analysis included news, editorials, and features. All letters to the
editor were excluded from the study because the current research only examined news
coverage of issues by the editors and journalists of the three newspapers, not citizens
writing to the newspapers. If a story regarding to President Bush and the war in Iraqi was
not directly associated with U.S. presidential election campaign coverage, it also was
excluded from the sample.
Newspaper Sample Methods
China Times, United Daily News and Liberty Times are daily newspapers, each of
which was projected to generate a maximum of 75 editions between September 2, 2004,
and November 15, 2004 (75 days). In content analysis studies of newspaper, the use of
constructed weeks has been shown to be superior to using simple random or consecutive
day samples (Riffe & Aust, 1993; Riffe, Lacy & Fico, 1998). In this study, a constructed
week sampling technique was employed to sample for 5 composite weeks: each
newspaper was randomly selected to represent each day of the week. Every 14 days was
regarded as a unit from Sept. 2, 2004, through Nov. 10, 2004. For instance, the composite
week for the first unit (Sept. 2 through Sept. 15) was obtained by randomly sampling for
one Monday, one Tuesday, and so forth, until each day of the week had been selected.
The process was repeated for the remaining 4 composite weeks. The last unit unit 6
(Nov. 11 through Nov. 15) was not considered a constructed week and all selected,
because it contained only five days. The selected dates for analyzing each of the three
papers were reduced to 40 edition days. The sample of 5 constructed weeks and 5
consecutive days yielded 549 articles, 133 from China Times, 275 from UnitedDaily
News and 141 from Liberty Times. The selected dates are shown in Table 3-1:
Table 3-1 The sampling dates for research analysis
Date Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed
Unit 1 Sep 2-8 Sep 2 Sep 5 Sep 6
Sep 9-15 Sep 10 Sep 11 Sep 14 Sep 15
Unit 2 Sep 16-22 Sep 17 Sep 18
Sep 23-29 Sep 23 Sep 26 Sep 27 Sep 28 Sep 29
Unit 3 Sep 30-Oct 6 Oct 1 Oct 2 Oct 4 Oct 5
Oct 7-13 Oct 7 Oct 10 Oct 13
Unit 4 Oct 14-20 Oct 14 Oct 15 Oct 16 Oct 18
Oct 21-27 Oct 24 Oct 26 Oct 27
Unit 5 Oct 28-Nov 3 Oct 31 Nov1 Nov 3
Nov 4-10 Nov4 Nov 5 Nov 6 Nov 9
Unit 6 Nov 11-15 Nov 11 Nov 12 Nov 13 Nov 14 Nov 15
The unit of analysis was the individual news story, which was coded using
Tankard's (2001) four frame mechanisms: headlines and bylines, story origins, leads,
selection of sources or affiliations, selection of quotes and concluding statements of
articles in the presidential campaign. Each story in the sampled newspapers was coded
using the categories delineated in the coding sheet following the coding instruction.
Attributes such as foreign policies, campaigns, candidates, presidential debates,
tensions and controversies, and media polls were categorized. Each category also
analyzed as to whether each candidate was covered in a positive, neutral, or negative
manner. For instance, if a news story reported that Senator John Kerry was ahead of
President Bush in the public opinion polls, the story was coded as positive to Kerry. The
frequency of favorable or unfavorable mentions for each candidate in the headlines,
leads, and selected sources also determined the overall tone that Bush or Kerry received
for an individual unit of analysis.
Each article was initially coded, categorized and analyzed in Chinese, to avoid
losing the real meaning during the process of translation at the first step, although some
slight mistranslation may occur. The researcher then interpreted and sorted out the many
meanings and kinds of frames for deciding which specific frames to study. Finally, the
researcher translated identified quotes and headlines, etc. into English when presenting
The most common finding in China Times was its impressive numbers of editorials
in each frame. Table 4-1 shows that, 86 story origins of the 85 stories (one of the stories
had two origins), China Times contributed 16.3% editorials and 4.7% features. United
Daily News had only 2.1% editorials and 1.1% features of its total origins, and Liberty
Times had no editorials. Moreover, China Times used fewer stories directly from news
agencies like AP, AFP, and Reuters; or foreign newspapers like the New York Times and
The Washington Post. With no correspondent reporting the international news in the three
frames, the reporters tended to depend on the combination of the stories originated from
the foreign news agencies instead. Domestic origin was also another choice China Times
made to frame "foreign policy," implying the greater concern about domestic reaction
(especially from the Taiwan government).
Table 4-1 Story origins of China Times by frames
Campaign Foreign Policy Debate Total
Origins N % N % N % N %
The Central News Agency 1 3.0 2 10.0 3 3.5
Domestic (Taipei) 8 24.2 8 9.3
Dispatches or dispatches 15 45.4 9 27.3 8 40.0 32 37.2
The Associated Press 1 3.0 2 10.0 3 3.5
Agence France-Presse -
World Journal -
New York Times 1 3.0 1 3.0 1 5.0 3 3.5
The Washington Post -
Table 4-1 Continued
Campaign Foreign Policy Debate Total
Origins N % N % N % N %
Combinations 8 24.2 2 6.0 3 15.0 13 15.1
Editorials 5 15.2 5 15.2 4 20.0 14 16.3
Features 2 6.0 2 6.0 4 4.7
Others 1 3.0 5 15.2 6 6.9
Others 33 100 33 100 20 100 86 100
Unlike China Times, United Daily News dominantly used news directly from
foreign news agencies. According to Table 4-2, for example, it collected about 27% news
in the three frames from AP, AFP, Reuters, New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Moreover, United Daily News had more news origins from the Chinese news agency-
Central News Agency.
Moreover, the reporters of United Daily News seemed to have a lesser task to edit
news of the presidential election, because its branch newspaper in the United States-
World Journal- mostly originated from AP news. Therefore, the stories coded World
Journal were mostly coded as AP news origin as well, due to its repeated origins.
Table 4-2 Story origins of United Daily News by frames
Foreign Bush Kerry Debate Tension Total
Origins N %
Central News Agency 7 6 7 9 3 32 16.8
Domestic (Taipei) 9 9 4.7
Correspondents 5 1 1 7 3.7
Dispatches Comb. 6 2 5 15 2 30 15.8
The Associate Press 2 7 3 9 3 24 12.6
Agence France-Presse 7 2 3 1 13 6.8
Reuters 1 3 1 5 2.6
World Journal 3 4 4 8 2 21 11.1
New York Times 1 4 1 3 9 4.7
The Washington Post 2 2 1.1
Combinations 4 7 3 7 4 25 13.2
Editorials 1 2 1 4 2.1
Features 2 2 1.1
Others 6 1 7 3.7
Liberty Times had higher numbers of combination news, including dispatches,
combination of dispatches, and combination of any origin. Table 4-3 shows that the
dispatches contributed about 45% of all origins, especially to the "campaign" frame,
where the total of stories originating from combination news contributed 76%.
Table 4-3 also shows its preference for the Associated Press and New York Times,
contributing about 15% of all origins. In the "debate" frame, the stories of New York
Times were the dominant origin second to the combinations news. In the "foreign policy"
frame, however, the domestic news and correspondent origins substituted the position of
foreign news agencies, implying its focus on Taiwanese points of view. Yet, there was no
editorial based on the Taiwanese view.
Table 4-3 Story origins of Liberty Times by frames
Campaign Foreign Policy Debate Total
Origins N % N % N % N %
The Central News Agency -
Domestic (Taipei) 6 21.4 6 7.1
Correspondents 3 10.7 3 3.6
Dispatches or dispatches 22 57.9 10 35.7 6 33.3 38 45.2
The Associate Press 4 10.5 1 3.6 2 11.1 7 8.3
Agence France-Presse 1 2.6 1 5.6 2 2.4
Reuters 2 11.1 2 2.4
World Journal -
New York Times 2 5.3 1 3.6 3 16.7 6 7.1
The Washington Post -
Combinations 7 18.4 4 14.3 1 5.6 12 14.3
Features 2 7.1 1 5.6 3 3.6
Others 2 5.3 1 3.6 2 11.1 5 6.0
Total 38 100 28 100 18 100 84 100
Selection of Sources
China Times appeared to hold a neutral view to frame the "foreign policy." Table
4-4 shows the sources of neutral institution or individuals were more than 60 percent, and
the sources of two campaigns and their supporters appear balanced. In the "debate"
frame, it seemed to be the same situation. However, China Times used Democratic
supporters as sources more than Republican supporters.
Table 4-4 Selection of sources in China Times frames
Campaign Foreign Policy Debate
N % N % N %
Selection of Sources ( I,U )* (I,U ) (I,U )
Rep. Party or its supporters 17,3 22.7 12,0 14.1 11,4 27.3
Dem. Party or its supporters 17,10 30.7 8,1 10.6 13,3 29.1
Neutral officials 5,1 6.8 4,2 7.1 0,1 1.8
Neutral media 15,4 21.6 3,0 3.5 10,2 21.8
Neutral institution or individual 9,4 14.8 38,14 61.2 3,7 18.2
Others 0,0 0.0 0,0 0.0 1,0 1.8
Absent 0,3 3.4 0,3 3.5 0,0 0.0
Total 88 100 85 100 55 100
* (I,U)= (numbers of identified source, numbers of unidentified source)
The most dominant finding about the selection of sources was in the "Bush" and
"Kerry" frames of United Daily News. Table 4-5 suggests that the sources from the
Democratic Party or its supporters were distinctly dominant in the "Kerry" frame,
contributing about 59% of the sources of the frame; whereas the source of Republican
Party or its supporters got a lower percentage than the opponents in the "Bush" frame.
Moreover, the absent source in the "Kerry" frame implied that the reporters tended to add
as many sources as they could to prove the points in 58 articles. Generally, this implied
UnitedDaily News preferred Democratic sources in the "campaign" frame.
In the "foreign policy" frame, the usage of the sources of neutral institution or
individuals suggests a more neutral stance than UnitedDaily News tended to hold.
However, the unbalanced usage of the two candidate supporters also may suggest the
newspaper's preference. Most of the neutral sources were from economic-related
While the covered sources of two campaigns seemed to be balanced in "debate"
frame, the sources of Democratic supporters dominated the "tension" frame. Republicans
were framed as trouble makers by Democrats who complained about controversies or
unfairness much more than their opponents.
Table 4-5 Selection of sources in UnitedDaily News frame
Bush Kerry Foreign Debate Tension
N % N % N % N % N %
Selection ofSources (I,U) (I,U) (I,U) (I,U) (I,U)
Rep. P. / supporters 13,4 30.4 7,2 15.5 11,0 9.5 23,7 21.3 1,1 5.3
Dem. P. / supporters 15,9 42.9 25,9 58.6 11,9 17.2 26,4 21.3 9,2 28.9
Neutral officials 0,1 1.8 1,1 3.4 12,2 12.1 1,0 0.7 5,0 13.2
Neutral media 4,1 8.9 3,0 5.2 13,0 11.2 37,2 27.7 3,1 10.5
Neutral ins./ ind. 0,4 7.1 5,5 17.2 36,16 44.8 25,10 24.8 8,4 31.6
Others 2,0 3.6 0,0 0.0 0,1 0.9 0,0 0.0 0,2 5.3
Absent 0,3 5.3 0,0 0.0 0,5 4.3 0,6 4.3 0,2 5.3
Total 56 100 58 100 116 100 141 100 38 100
* (I,U)= (numbers of identified source, numbers of unidentified source)
Liberty Times was the most balanced newspaper in selecting the sources to frame
the "foreign policy" frame. It was also balanced to frame the "debates." For example,
Table 4-6 shows the number of sources from two candidate supporters was even in the
"foreign policy" and "debate" frames. The differences of two types of sources shown in
the table were less than 1%.
Interestingly, Liberty Times seemed to present a different view in the "campaign"
frame, compared to the other two newspapers, because it used the sources from
Republican supporters more often than from Democratic supporters. The difference is
about 12 individual sources. With its absence of an "anti-Bush" frame, Liberty Times
appeared to avoid unfavorable messages against President Bush.
Table 4-6 Selection of sources in Liberty Times frame
Campaign Foreign Policy Debate
N % N % N %
Selection of Sources (I,U )* ( ,U ) (I,U )
Rep. Party or its supporters 17,14 21.2 9,2 9.7 10,4 20.6
Dem. Party or its supporters 11,8 13.0 9,3 10.6 11,2 19.1
Neutral officials 8,6 9.6 4,7 9.7 1,0 1.5
Neutral media 32,6 26.1 11,2 11.5 19,1 29.4
Neutral institution or individual 11,26 25.3 45,16 54.1 12,6 26.5
Others 1,4 3.4 3, 1 3.5 1,0 1.5
Absent 0,2 1.4 0,1 0.9 0,1 1.5
Total 146 100 113 100 68 100
* (I,U)= (numbers of identified source, numbers of unidentified source)
This section discusses the results of how many actual articles from each newspaper
related to the presidential campaign, and articles specifically categorized by frames that
the researcher found. Table 4-7 below shows the total number of sampled articles fitting
the previously defined criteria. It also shows the numbers of articles framed by each
newspaper that the researcher analyzed by employing the content-analysis method.
United Daily News had dominant coverage on the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, while
China Times and Liberty Times covered the campaign at lesser levels.
Table 4-7. Numbers of articles coded and framed
Newspaper Total sampled articles Articles framed
China Times 132 84
United Daily News 261 150
Liberty Times 130 83
Each newspaper was categorized by different themes by examining their headlines
and leads, such as "foreign policy," "debate," "campaigns," "politician profiles," "anti-
Bush," "media," "Republic National Convention," "personnel arrangement," and so on.
A total of 3 frames were found in China Times, 5 frames in UnitedDaily News, and 3
frames in Liberty Times. They are shown in Table 4-8. Each will be discussed.
Each article of the three newspapers was categorized by themes, the most common
themes explicitly framed by each newspaper were "foreign policy," "debate," and
"campaign." However, United Daily News had two distinct themes within the campaign
theme "candidate" theme that the researcher divided as "Bush" and "Kerry" themes.
Table 4-8 shows the frequency of articles in each newspaper framed by the most
common themes "foreign policy," "campaign," "debate," and "tension." One
significant finding was how much coverage United Daily News used to discuss the
presidential election. Of the 150 articles analyzed, United Daily News covered about 30%
in each common frame- "foreign policy," "campaign," "debate," each of which was
about 10 stories more than the other two newspapers. Interestingly, United Daily News
seemed to be more interested in the debates than the other two papers, covering 45
stories, 2.6 times the debate coverage of Liberty Times.
The findings suggest that China Times was relatively more concerned about U.S.
foreign policy than the other two: the frequency in "foreign policy" frame was about
37%, even with its "campaign" frame, and about 13% more than "debate" frame.
Table 4-8 Frames and frequency of articles categorized by frames in China Times,
United Daily News, and Liberty Times
China Times United Daily News Liberty Times
Frames/Papers N % N % N %
Bush -- 25 17 -- --
Kerry -- -- 20 13 -- --
Campaign 33 39 -- -- 38 46
Foreign Policy 32 37 45 30 28 34
Debate 20 24 45 30 17 20
Tension -- -- 15 10 -- --
Total 84 100 150 100 83 100
China Times: During the three presidential debates and one vice-presidential
debate, 20 stories focused on the "debates" in China Times. Two major sub-themes
composed the "debate" frame- "Kerry's good performance" and "debate issues."
* "Kerry's good performance" sub-theme
A sub-theme "Kerry's better performance" was found in the "debate" frame of
China Times which compared the two presidential candidates' debate performance. These
headlines (n=5) described how Kerry's performance in the three debates gained him
credibility and appreciation. For example, "Kerry would prevent terrorists attacks better
than if Bush were re-elected," (Oct. 1, 2004) "U.S. networks: Kerry performed better"
(Oct. 2, 1004), "Bush performed as if he was like making a speech, while Kerry
performed as an exemplary person" (Oct. 2, 2004), "Kerry did a good job, whereas Bush
did not" (Oct. 2, 2004), and "Although Kerry won the debate, the voters' intention to
change is unimpressive" (Oct. 4, 2004).
* "Debate issue" sub-theme
Some headlines in the "debate" frame described the issues disputed in the three
debates, including domestic and foreign issues. Three stories carried headlines portraying
both candidates' attack on the domestic policies of their opponent: "Domestic affairs:
They attacked each other as 'ultra-Leftist' and 'Mafia'" (Oct. 15. 2004), and "Domestic
affairs: Kerry said Bush misjudged the anti-terrorism action, Bush said Kerry voted for
approval of Bush's action" (Oct. 2, 2004).
China Times carried two stories that addressed the North Korea and Taiwan issues.
The China Times' coverage of the first debate gave the impression that these issue
concerns about Asia appeared in the first debates. This is in contrast to a Liberty Times
headline which repeated that the Taiwan issue had never been mentioned. The China
Times headline clearly stated that "Bush vs. Kerry: Taiwan did not appear in the debate"
(Oct 1, 2004).
The coverage of the first debate was dominant in the frame. A total of 12 stories
covered the first debate. The second presidential debate, the third presidential debate and
the vice-president debate had two, three, and three stories respectively in the China
United Daily News: Most headlines in the "debate" frame gave basic debate
information to readers, including the coverage of "before the first debate". Many
headlines provided basic information about the debate such as the location and time;
preparation; debate issues; and campaigns in an impartial tone.
During the days leading up to the first debate and compared to the other two
newspapers, United Daily News covered more news that compared the different styles of
the two candidates, such as their personalities, appearance, body language, and
qualifications. Most headlines in the debate frame were either fairly negative or neutral
on both candidates. For example, some headlines showed, "Before the debate, Bush was
mocked for being too short, while Kerry was laughed at as a flip-flopper" (Sept. 28,
2004); "Bush and Kerry are very different in debate style" (Sept. 29, 2004); "Foreign
policies: Bush likes to be feared, while Kerry likes to be loved" (Oct. 1, 2004); and
finally, "Candidate features: Bush easily irritated when Kerry all smiles" (Oct. 4, 2004).
A few negative comparisons also appeared before the first debate.
Kerry was seen as the victor in the first and third debates in particular. In the first
debate, some headlines communicated positive messages about Kerry from polls,
analysis, or the candidate's attack statements. For example, "Kerry beats Bush by a large
margin in online poll" (Oct. 1, 2004); "Kerry says if he is elected that he can prevent
terrorism better than Bush can" (Oct 1, 2004); and "Analysts view: A flip-flopper? Kerry
clarified and recovered his morale" (Oct. 4, 2004). During the days following the third
debate as well, some headlines stated, "Kerry won big in the last debate" (Oct. 14, 2004)
and "Polls showed Kerry is ahead of Bush in the U.S. after third debate" (Oct. 15, 2004).
Liberty Times: There were 17 stories framing the "debates" in Liberty Times. Two
major sub-themes composed the "debate" frame-"performance" and "debate issues."
S "Performance" sub-theme
A dominant "performance" sub-theme was found in the "debate" frame in the
Liberty Time, including body language, personality and the performance of the
presidential candidates in the three debates. The headlines (n=7) in the theme portrayed
the advantages and disadvantages of both candidates, and tended to put them at the same
level. Generally, the headlines took a neutral stance on both candidates. For example,
some headlines read "The first debate: Kerry gained great momentum; Bush took a
steady stance" (Oct. 2, 2004), "Bush has plenty of expression; Kerry has abundance of
gestures" (Oct. 2, 2004), and "Bush's foolish laugh is not a selling point; Kerry's tedious
speech is the trick" (Oct. 1, 2004). In the sub-theme, Kerry was portrayed as a true
challenger given his performance in the three debates. Three headlines focused on the
analysis of Kerry's situation, communicating the uncertainty of the victory: "Kerry needs
to make more effort to change the status by debates" (Oct. 2, 2004), and "Kerry again has
the advantage of the last debate" (Oct. 15, 2004), and "The victory is uncertain by the
debates" (Oct. 15, 2004).
* "Debate issue" sub-theme
Another important sub-theme "issue" was also found in some articles (n=5) in the
"debate" frame. However, only three headlines of these articles mentioned the "issue" or
focus of the debates: on economy, a headline read "Kerry had advantage of economy
issue" (Oct. 1, 2004); on foreign policy, another headline read "U.S. election debate:
Bush and Kerry focused on Iraq War in the verbal battle" (Oct. 2, 2004); The other
headline mentioned interior affairs, "Bush and Kerry focused on domestic issues at the
last debate" (Oct. 14, 2004).
The coverage of the first debate was dominant in the frame, which had a total of 10
stories, 59% of all the debate stories. The third debate had 4 stories, and the vice
presidential debate had 3 stories. No second-debate story was covered in the Liberty
China Times: There were 33 stories framing the "campaign" in China Times, which
were categorized into five sub-themes: "post-election," "Kerry campaign," "waiting for
results," "controversy," and "campaign battle."
* "Post-election" sub-theme
Under the "campaign" frame, a "post-election" sub-theme was found (n=7) for the
last phase of the campaign. After Election Day, the headlines carried articles showing
that the Republican Party emerging as the majority party, and the United States
maintaining a "conservative" attitude for the next four years. A headline read "Senate and
Congress under Republicans' control" (Nov. 4, 2004). Another one read "Conservatives
gain territory as Bush's advocates" (Nov. 5, 2004).
Some headlines illustrated the division or polarization that the U.S. electorate
displayed in this presidential campaign, as the passion of Kerry supporters remained
undaunted. A headline described the supporters' suspicion of the opponents' conspiracy:
"After the election, conspiracies springs up" (Nov. 12, 2004); and Kerry supporters'
emotional and want to immigrate; "Blue states want to be adopted by Canada?" (Nov. 9,
2004) and "Blue states are not allowed to separate the Federal government, but people are
allowed to" (Nov. 9, 2004).
Two headlines in the theme mentioned Bush and Kerry's concerns on U.S.
division, for example: "Post-election Speech: Bush urged unity and anti-terrorism; Kerry
hoped to unite divided U.S." (Nov. 5, 2004), and "Bush and Kerry agree to bridge the
nation's division" (Nov. 4, 2004).
S "Kerry campaign" sub-theme
China Times covered "Kerry" (n=9) as a sub-theme in the "campaign" frame in a
total of nine headlines. There are headlines in the sub-theme which mentioned former
President Clinton and Hollywood stars as campaign supporters. For example, three
headlines which portrayed their support, read "Kerry has a Hollywood super campaign
group" (Nov. 3, 2004), "Clinton campaigned with Kerry; Thousands were delighted,
sending up huge cheers" (Oct. 27, 2004), and "Clinton returned to the campaign trail in
Philadelphia after his surgery" (Oct. 26, 2004).
However, China Times tended to consider Kerry a candidate who got into more
trouble than his opponent in the campaign. The unstable factors for Kerry's campaign
were covered in these headlines, including "Nader," "The anti-Bush sentiment," and even
Kerry's wife, "Teresa." For example, two headlines questioned whether third-party
presidential candidate Nader would impact Kerry negatively without mentioning Bush.
Another headline read, "Learning from Gore four years ago, Kerry has to be careful about
Nader effect" (Nov. 1, 2004), and "Nader effect hinders Kerry in New Mexico" (Nov. 4,
2004). A headline carried the article analyzing the visible failure if Kerry could not turn
anti-Bush sentiment into support himself: "U.S. election: Kerry will not be successful
unless anti-Bush votes turn to pro-Kerry votes" (Oct. 14, 2004). After the outcome of the
election, two headlines illustrated the cause of Kerry's failure: "Kerry campaign reaped
bad fruit from what it had sown" (Nov. 6, 2004), and "Kerry made effort, but senior
Democrats didn't hold hopes" (Sept. 29, 2004).
* "Waiting for results" sub-theme
On November 4 and November 5, China Times had five articles covering the tense
mood leading up to the final outcome of the election. With no coverage of any other races
such as U.S. governor or senatorial campaigns, China Times ran three articles about the
outcome of the presidential election on November 4, 2004: "Kerry concedes no
possibility for change," "Bush wins and Kerry congratulates him," and "Bush is
reelected"; and two articles portraying the tension before the outcome: "The waiting night
is unstable" (Nov. 5, 2004) and "Five networks steer to be careful" (Nov. 4, 2004).
* "Controversy" sub-theme
Six articles focused on the campaign theme of voting problems, including voter
qualification, the electoral-college system, temporary ballots and vote counting. A
headline showed, "Temporary ballots will slow the outcome" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Florida and Ohio were framed in China Times as the swing states with the most
problems. For example, these headlines read "Election controversy: Ohio 35,000 voters
questioned about eligibility" (Oct. 27, 2004), "The outdated election system is the crux of
the problem, where Ohio nightmare is" (Nov. 4, 2004), and "The nightmare of
controversial vote counting will reoccur in Florida?" (Nov. 3, 2004).
Except for the problems, two headlines portrayed the problems were dealt with by
referendum or supervision of the voting process: "Hundreds of thousands of lawyers will
supervise the election" (Nov. 3, 2004) and "Election controversy: electoral ballots shall
be allotted in proportion; Colorado leads" (Oct. 27, 2004).
* "Campaign battles" sub-theme
Some headlines illustrated the importance and strategies for winning the election
and were found under the "campaign" theme, such as "Native American votes are the
secret to win" (Sept. 23, 2004), "America battle is decided on swing states" (Oct. 16,
2004), and "International perspectives: The outcome of U.S. presidential election is
decided by swing votes" (Oct. 18, 2004).
Unlike United Daily News and Liberty Times, China Times only had three
headlines that mentioned the campaign tours or fierce campaign battles in the "campaign"
frame: "Bush and Kerry hastened swing states" (Nov. 1, 2004), "Bush and Kerry sprinted
to super states for the last minutes" (Oct. 16, 2004), "Tense campaign," and "Bush and
Kerry both tour to pursue critical New Mexico voters" (Oct. 13, 2004). Both campaigns
were equally covered in these headlines.
Liberty Times: There were 38 stories framing the "campaign" in Liberty Times,
which were categorized into three sub-themes: "vote count," "campaign battle," "waiting
for results." These themes are shown as follows:
"Vote count" sub-theme
The sub-theme "vote count" was included in the "campaign" frame. Most of the
headlines (n=8) carried the articles depicted the tension over the vote counting. Terms
such as 'nightmare," "mistakes," "tension," were used in these headlines to describe the
process of counting votes. For example, "Five ways of checking vote counts could be
nightmare in Pennsylvania" (Oct. 31, 2004), "Tension in Florida" (Nov. 3, 2004), "Who
rules White House? There will be no answer on the election eve" (Oct. 31, 2004), "Ohio
vote count may repeat the mistakes of Florida" (Oct. 27, 2004), and "Ohio vote count
needs two more weeks" (Nov. 4, 2004). There were headlines showing the tension among
the media as well, such as "Watch the Associated Press for vote count" (Nov. 3, 2004),
and "The networks steer clear and want precise reporting" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Some headlines also described rising tempers and chaos during the voting; terms
like "deception," "lawyers," "complain" and so on were seen all over the article, for
example, "In the U.S. hundreds of thousands of lawyers monitor votes count" (Nov. 3,
2004), "Complain, interference, threat ... a bunch of problems in the election" (Nov. 4,
2004), and "Deception tricks are various and odd to anti-mobilization" (Nov. 3, 2004).
One headline communicated a neutral information about potential laws governing the
electoral system: "U.S. election: Colorado referendum keeps the electoral votes- winner
gets all" (Nov. 4, 2004).
* "Campaign battle" sub-theme
The central sub-theme of the election campaign was the fierce "battle" metaphor
(n=9). Words and phrases such as "winning," front line," "combat," and "battle," were
used in a tense "war" tone. Some examples are: "The longest and most violent battle in
U.S. history" (Nov. 4, 2004), "Three major front line engagements, fighting for the White
House" (Nov. 3, 2004), "Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania are the first-class combat zones"
(Oct. 18, 2004), and "Computer predicts a Bush and Kerry tie" (Nov. 1, 2004). Some
headlines also showed the key to winning the war focused on Kerry swing states.
Examples are: "Who wins Florida and Ohio will be elected" (Nov. 1 2004), "The secret
to winning White House rests in six states" (Nov. 3, 2004), and "Five swing states
continue to sway" (Oct. 2, 2004). One lead even used the term "decathlon" to portray the
competition, "The decathlon is necessary for winning White House" (Sept. 28, 2004).
Some articles could be regarded as a part of a battle frame that focuses on the
"strategies" that the two campaigns used to attack each other. Most of these articles
appeared prior to the election. For example, "U.S. election: two campaigns are fierce by
frightened strategy" (Oct. 18, 2004), "Florida Governor helps his brother in reelection
campaign" (Oct. 24, 2004), "Guiding the strategies: Bush is focused on diplomacy, and
Kerry is focused on economy" (Oct. 4, 2004), and "Bush's strategy works through
persistence on his position stances" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Two articles showed another unstable factor that might impact on the 2004
presidential election-Nadar, the third-party candidate. "U.S. election: Nadar could play
a troublesome role this year" (Nov. 4, 2004), and "Nadar sucks votes, where Kerry's
nightmare is" (Oct. 16, 2004).
* "Waiting for results" sub-theme
In the last phase of the "campaign", the sub-theme "waiting for results" was the
most neutral theme in the frame (n=7) Headlines mostly communicated election
information that followed the outcome of the vote counting. Thanks to the discreet
attitude U.S. media held, the Liberty Times did not make any statement regarding what
states that Kerry had won. All headlines in this theme read "Bush took two towns in New
Hampshire" (Nov. 3, 2004), "Bush and Kerry battle for the last 24 hours" (Nov. 3, 2004),
"U.S. election: Kerry lost, Bush won" (Nov. 4, 2004), "U.S. election: Kerry admitted
defeat before votes in three states counted" (Nov. 4, 2004), "U.S. election: Kerry once
refused to admit defeat, Bush campaign was like taking a sauna" (Nov. 4, 2004), "From
excitement to disappointment, Kerry was cool" (Nov. 4, 2004), "A phone call from Kerry
made two campaigns weep" (Nov. 5, 2004).
After Election Day, three articles were found in the "campaign" theme that
portrayed the United States as divided by the frantic presidential election and the two
candidates' performance on reuniting the country. A lead read "The demeanor of the
loser terminates the confrontation" (Nov 4, 2004), and another lead read "Responding to
Kerry, Bush said U.S. people need to be more united than ever before" (Nov 5, 2004).
United Daily News had more than 50 stories related to the presidential campaigns
during this period. Due to its great numbers of stories and distinct frames found, coverage
was divided into two independent frames-"Bush" and "Kerry," which contained 25 and
20 headlines, respectively.
* "Anti-Bush" sub-theme
Many of the articles (n=13) carried headlines that contained the "anti-Bush" sub-
theme, which directly or indirectly showed a strong anti-Bush sentiment among different
groups of people, such as entertainers, relatives, scientists, writers and the public. The
exact word, "Anti-Bush," was used to frame Kerry-supporters' actions, yet the reasons
for the negative sentiment were unclear simply by examining the headlines. For example,
popular singers and Hollywood movie stars spoke out and encouraged their fans to vote
against Bush. Headlines such as "Anti-Bush, U.S. top bands cooperate in a concert"
(Sept. 28, 2004), and "Anti-Bush, Leonardo [DiCaprio] criticizes Bush in television
commercials" (Oct. 15, 2004). Another example of the anti-Bush theme is about Bush's
distant relatives who dislike him. The headline translates to "Aggressive online, Bush
relatives are anti-Bush" (Oct. 26, 2004). Framed through the Chinese importance of
ancestry and family ties, this headline would clearly be a harsh criticism.
Even though there were no specific words or phrases presented directly to show the
negative sentiment in some headlines, an anti-Bush message was implied by persons
willing to vote against him: "Rock 'n' Roll anthems on a patriotic theme: vote for
change"(Oct. 15, 2004). Also, three articles in this theme showed the angry response
from the Bush camp, "Old Bush [Former President George HW Bush] called Fahrenheit
911 director slime ball". A notorious autobiographer Kitty Kelly wrote a book revealing
Bush family's secret, "The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty will be published, White
House attacked first" (Sept. 10, 2004).
The United Daily News contained three anti-Bush news articles on one day -
September 29, 2004. They were:
"Elderly Florida woman unforgiving of Bush in her last minutes."
"Soros donated to anti-Bush"
"10 Nobel Prize winners also anti-Bush"
Interestingly, the word "ALSO" and "AGAIN" played a very important role in the
sub-theme: "10 Nobel Prize winners also anti-Bush" (Sept. 29, 2004). It implies even the
top scientists in the world rejected Bush, as other ordinary people do; "Bush's enlistment
records are picked apart again" (Sept. 9, 2004), which implies the reiteration.
Furthermore, the word "demonstration" only appeared for issues regarding Bush
and the Republican Party. For example, during the first debate, thousands of protesters
yelled outside the site of the debate at the University of Miami in Florida, "Hundreds
hold coffins during the demonstration outside," and "Fight hard inside, Protest hard
* "Bush campaign" sub-theme
Kerry faced a tough campaign in swing states, which was framed by the coverage
of United Daily News under the "candidates" theme. Three stories were about how Bush
seemed to get support from swing states. For example, "Electoral vote, Bush got more"
(Sept. 5, 2004), "Bush enjoys comfortable leading in swing states" (Sept. 15, 2004), and
"2000 swing states lean toward Bush" (Oct. 1, 2004).
The frames of the Bush campaign illustrated not only the battle, but also reflected
Bush's personality. Examples are "Bush sleeps at ten o'clock no matter how busy" (Oct.
24, 2004), "Press conference is like seeing a dentist. Bush said he has no fear now" (Nov.
A headline that attacked the Kerry campaign read, "Bush attacks Kerry's mean
strategy for being elected" (Oct. 18, 2004). Other headlines referring to Bush campaign
were: "Bush kept busy on tours, expecting Ohio vote" (Sept. 5, 2004), and "The third
party may threaten Bush reelection" (Sept. 10, 2004).
Unlike the negativity of the "Bush" frame, many of the articles (n=l 1) in the Kerry
frame carried positive headlines. The headlines communicated the support of the U.S.
news media, former President Clinton, the Asian community, and so on. The U.S.
media's preference was shown in the UnitedDaily News in three examples of headlines,
"New York Time Editorial supports Kerry" (Oct. 18, 2004), "The New Yorker magazine
supports Kerry for first time" (Oct. 26, 2004), and "Bush hometown newspaper supports
Kerry" (Sept. 29, 2004). All of these examples strongly stated support for Kerry. United
Daily News did not try to balance these stories with similar stories about Bush. The
UnitedDaily News even covered a very short article with only five lines illustrating a
new film supporting Kerry. The headline of the short article read "Kerry-supported
documentary 'Going upriver: the Long War of John Kerry' first play" (Sept. 15, 2004).
The words having the same meaning like "back Kerry," "stand up for Kerry,"
"support Kerry" appeared in the "Kerry supporter" theme. For example, "Asian
American 80/20 association supports Kerry in White House" (Oct. 5, 2004).
On Oct 26, 2004, former U.S. President Clinton appeared in stories in the frame as
a big supporter of Kerry. "After his operation, Clinton backs Kerry and attacks Bush in
Pennsylvania," "Clinton is still charming after illness, standing up for Kerry in
Pennsylvania," and "Clinton backs Kerry and criticizes Bush for intimidating voters."
Kerry's future and concern about this war medals were also a part of the "Kerry"
frame. Examples of headlines are: "Kerry's long route to White House" (Sept. 5, 2004),
"2008 Kerry may be back" (Nov. 11, 2002), and "Kerry's military medal-award process
was appropriate" (Sept. 18, 2004).
Moreover, a sub-theme "criticism" was found in some headlines in "Kerry" frame
that depicted the Kerry campaign's criticism of Bush himself or his policies. Words or
phrases like "attack," "fire at Bush," and "blame" were found in the leads. For example,
"Oil prices swell, Kerry camp to counterattack" (Sept. 29, 2004), "Kerry opens fire, left
on the war; right on the economy" (Oct. 4, 2004), "Democrats Edward Kennedy blames
Bush for decline in the world security" (Sept. 28, 2004), "Bush revolution plan criticized
by Kerry- big January surprise" (Oct. 18, 2004), and finally "Kerry fires at Bush
policy- social security privatization" (Oct. 18, 2004).
China Times: There were 32 stories in the "foreign policy" frame in China Times,
which were categorized into sub-themes of "preference" of foreigners toward two
candidates, "diplomatic style and policy" of two candidates, and "world reactions" on the
* "Preference" sub-theme
A theme of "preference" was found in the foreign frame, explaining which
candidate Taiwan preferred. Two headlines from these articles showed Taiwan and China
officials were optimistic toward Bush and his new government. A lead retrieved before
the result of the election (Sept. 11, 2004) communicated a positive message toward Bush
that "Concerning U.S. election, we (Taiwan) lean toward to Bush." Another lead showed
China's attitude after the election, "China will be relieved if Bush is re-elected" (Nov. 5,
2004). However, most of the headlines in the theme held a pessimistic attitude about the
relationship with the United States, saying "no matter who" is elected, the relationship
will not improve, or may even get worse. For example, "Taiwan Foreign Department:
U.S.'s Taiwan policy will not change no matter who wins" (Nov. 4, 2004); "KMT Party
and People First Party are pessimistic; the situation will get worse no matter who wins"
(Oct. 31, 2004); and "Powell effects should be deliberated: the pressure will be bigger no
matter who rules" (Oct. 31, 2004).
Interestingly, no article addressed Taiwanese or Chinese attitudes towards Kerry
winning the election.
Two leads were found regarding Taiwan President Chen's reaction during the
election, "U.S. election deadlocks, Chen once claimed 'Kerry lost' at three yesterday"
(Nov. 4, 2004), and his friendly statement after the election, "Chen released good
intentions concerning U.S. and China" (Nov. 11, 2004). A lead communicated the
message from the leader of People First Party: "Sung calls upon U.S. president to
recognize R.O.C. [Taiwan] sovereignty" (Nov. 4, 2004).
* "Diplomatic style and policy" sub-theme
The examined articles carried headlines forming a "foreign policy" sub-theme
(n=5). These communicated U.S. general foreign policy and specific China policy. Some
leads showed Bush's foreign policy became harsh after the September 11th terrorist
attacks, "Foreign style comparison: Bush and Kerry are not much different. Bush became
very extreme after 911" (Oct. 14, 2004), and "Bush's overall policy remains tough"
(Nov. 5, 2004). One lead explained this by the public's "formal" support for Bush. He is
therefore more confident to "use" the right, that read "Bush strategy: using the earned
political capital" (Nov. 6, 2004).
The U.S.'s China policy was still another important theme for the China Times.
Most articles carried the headlines under the "foreign policy" theme were related to
analysis of the complex China issue, illustrating U.S.'s future policy on China. For
example, "U.S. needs a fine and distinct China policy" (Oct. 18, 2004), "The only way
for U.S.: disregard Taiwan-Strait affairs" (Nov. 11, 2004), "After the election, general
direction of U.S.'s cross-strait policy will not change" (Oct. 31, 2004), and "U.S. will
urge two sides to resume conversation" (Nov. 5, 2004). Two headlines described the
good interaction between the two leaders of China and U.S., implying the friendly
atmosphere between these two countries. For example, "Clues for new relationship of
U.S., China and Taiwan will be seen at Bush-Hu meeting" (Nov. 5, 2004), "Hu Jing-tao
sent telegram to congratulate Bush on his reelection" (Nov. 5, 2004).
* "World reactions" sub-theme
The most dominant theme was the coverage of the "world's reactions" about the
U.S. election outcome. Three leads of the theme were positive towards Kerry, showing
that Kerry had more support from foreign countries. For example, "According to global
polls, 30 countries of 35 prefer Kerry over Bush" (Sept. 10, 2004), "Polls show ten
countries anti-Bush and support Kerry" (Oct. 16, 2004), and "Paris, France expects Kerry
but takes precaution" (Nov. 1, 2004). Furthermore, three leads communicated some
countries avoided showing their attitudes of preference to either candidate. For example,
"Beijing learns from the past; China takes thoughtful attitude" (Nov. 1, 2004), "London:
Bush becomes a curse, Blair doesn't dare to stake all on Bush" (Nov. 1, 2004), and
"Foreign leaders have their own scheme when watching the battle" (Nov. 1, 2004).
However, only one country: Japan, showed the prime minister's preference toward Bush:
"Tokyo: Koizumi hopes Bush wins" (Nov. 1, 2004), and the public's anger by the
declaration- "U.S. election storm hits Japan" (Oct. 16, 2004).
United Daily News: There were 45 stories framing "foreign policy" in the United
Daily Times, which were categorized into three sub-themes: "Taiwan and China
relations," "economy," and "security."
* "Taiwan and China relation" sub-theme
A "Taiwan and China" theme was the most dominant in headlines found in the
"foreign policy" frame, which discussed the China policy in light of a Bush second term
and the relationship among the U.S., Taiwan and China. Some articles carried headlines
with optimistic tones toward China, such as China and the U.S. have "a perfect
relationship," "suppression of Taiwan independence," and the Taiwan and the United
States relationship has "cooled down"; whereas, there were no optimistic political views
toward Taiwan found in the theme. Instead, examples of other headlines, which
demonstrated sentiments toward suppressing Taiwan independence, were as follows:
"Hu Jing-tao will urge Bush to cooperate with regards to suppressing Taiwan
independence" (Nov. 6, 2004).
"Powell: U.S. and China relationship is at its best time in 30 years" (Nov. 14,
"Powell cut it off: U.S. and Taiwan relationship is chilly" (Oct. 26, 2004).
Other headlines suggested active and frequent communication between the U.S.
and China. For example, "China Foreign Minister Li and Powell talked by phone" (Nov.
6, 2004), and "Hu Jing-tao to meet Bush during South American trip" (Nov. 11, 2004).
Most headlines transmitted a neutral tone, however. For example, "The reelection
of Bush brings U.S. new era; Taiwan Strait needs a new integral strategy" (Nov. 4, 2004),
"Wu Chao-hsieh: U.S. will play a role as a coordinator" (Nov. 4, 2004), "Bush and
Kerry's debate did not mention Taiwan Strait problem" (Oct. 16, 2004), and "Bush vs.
Kerry, discrepancy on the issue of Taiwan" (Oct. 15, 2004).
* "Economy" sub-theme
A dominant sub-theme in the headlines of the foreign policy frame was the
"economy". The "economy" headline used terms such as "Bush reelection," "U.S.
dollars," "currency," "stocks," and "trade" to portray the performance of foreign or
domestic stock markets. For example, "Bush is reelected, U.S. stocks celebrate" (Nov. 4,
2004), and "U.S. election is successful, the curtain drops" (Nov. 4, 2004). However, most
of the articles related to the economy carried headlines negative to Bush's reelection. For
example, many articles mentioned the situation was not beneficial to the U.S. dollar:
"Bush is reelected, U.S. dollars may drop for four years" (Nov. 5, 2004), "Bush is in
charge, U.S. dollars will fall" (Nov. 4, 2004), "Bush reelected, U.S. dollar drops" (Nov.
5, 2004), and "French worried about weak U.S. dollar" (Nov. 6, 2004). The worries in the
world's stock markets seemed not to stop until November 7.
S "Security" sub-theme
A "security" sub-theme was found under the "foreign" theme in the headlines.
These headlines criticized the U.S. reaction to the terrorist threat to national security,
primarily from Kerry. An example from the United Daily News read, "U.S. is safe or not,
Kerry attacks Bush schizophrenia" (Oct. 21. 2004). Another lead communicating Kerry's
criticism of Bush's mishandling of Iraq, read "Iraq bombs missing, Kerry attacks Bush"
(Oct. 26, 2004). Another headline about Bin Laden's 18-minute video also contributed to
the "security" theme, read "Bin Laden effect, Bush and Kerry harshly attack for anti-
terrorism" (Nov. 1, 2004). However, only one headline portrayed national protection
from anti-terrorism as satisfying, which read "U.S. national security declined terrorism-
threat level" (Nov. 11, 2004).
Other headlines carried public opinion from around the world, most of which could
be categorized in the "anti-Bush" theme. In the "foreign" theme, there were only two
headlines not under the three above mentioned sub-theme: "Europe watches the world"
(Nov. 4, 2004), and "Big election TV screen: The world is watching" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Liberty Times: There were only two leads regarding to U.S. China policy in the
"foreign" theme. Both leads had special coverage for the U.S. election: "U.S. will
actively urge two sides to negotiate" (Nov. 4, 2004), and "U.S. Taiwan-Straits policy
maintains no force and no independence" (Nov. 4, 2004). Interestingly, whenever
mentioning the U.S.-China policy, Taiwanese reporters usually used the term "Taiwan-
Straits policy," instead of the "China policy." Three sub-themes: "national security,"
"economy," and "around the world," were shown as follows.
* "National security" sub-theme
The Liberty Times covered more "national security" stories than the other two
newspapers. A sub-theme in the foreign frame included issues on "Bin Ladan's video,"
"Bush's Iraq policy," and "the candidates' consensus on anti-terrorism." Among the 12
"national security" stories, the headlines carried 7 articles related to Bin Ladan's video.
Headlines such as "Bin Ladan dropped the shock bomb" (Oct. 31, 2004), "Bin Ladan
appeared to affect U.S. election" (Oct. 31, 2004), "Bin Ladan appeared as a politician"
(Nov. 1,2004), and "Most Americans were not influenced by Bin Ladan"(Nov. 1, 2004),
appeared just days before the election.
In the sub-theme of "national security", only two headlines were unfavorable to
Bush: "Kerry blamed Bush's incompetent on the lost explosives in Iraq" (Oct. 27, 2004),
and "Roosevelt and Braymer spoke improperly and White House was busy clarifying"
(Oct. 7, 2004), when the two officials' speeches contradicted President Bush on military
deployment in Iraq.
* "Economy" sub-theme
The dominant theme of the "economy" was found in the leads of the "foreign
policy" frame (n=7). In these headlines, it was implied that the reelection of President
Bush would influence the global oil prices, and the Asian market would surge. Some
leads showed that oil prices went up, "Oil prices swell, unfavorable to Bush" (Oct. 18,
2004), and "Bush won, oil price is up" (Nov. 4, 2004). On November 4, many headlines
and leads that communicated favorably upon Bush's reelection were: "U.S. bull market
causes Asian surge," and "With foreign investment support, Taiwan stock prices go up,"
"Bush is reelected, beneficial to Taiwan economy," and "Economy Department is
positive about the prospects of the economy with U.S.."
* "Around the world" sub-theme
Two leads in the "foreign" theme mentioned the reactions of other places in the
world as global citizens awaited the U.S. election's outcome. For example, "The world is
watching the tension over counting votes" (Nov. 4, 2004), and "The globe holds its
breath waiting for the Big Brother of the world" (Nov. 3, 2004). Both leads were neutral.
One lead regarding polls was unfavorable to Bush: "Polls of allied countries backed
Kerry" (Oct. 16, 2004).
United Daily News: United Daily News carried another frame that the other two
newspapers did not distinctly have: the "tension" frame, which mainly portrayed the
"voting controversy" sub-themes in the campaigns, such as "election lawsuits and
supervision," "referendums," and "conspiracy."
* "Lawsuits and supervision" sub-theme
The words "lawsuits," "supervise," or phrases about "laws" were found in some
headlines of the "voting controversy" articles. The headlines showed the impact that
controversial ballots would have on the result of the election. For example, two headlines
read "Dead voters impact the result" (Nov. 1, 2004), "U.S. election, voters data were
falsified?" (Oct. 14, 2004). Also, to prevent any cheating, some leads showed how
nervously the two camps used lawyers to closely monitor the whole election process.
Examples are: "U.S. election, two parties accuse each other of cheating" (Oct. 15, 2004),
"Lawsuits may break out after the election, lawyers stand by" (Oct. 27, 2004), and
"Filmmaker Michael Moore will supervise vote count" (Nov. 1, 2004).
* "Referendum" sub-theme
Another big theme appearing in some headlines concerned issues, called
"referendums" on state ballots. Those headlines communicated how some states will hold
referendums for multiple issues, such as the allotment of electoral votes. For example, a
headline read "Modification of voting districts is permitted by referendum" (Oct. 27,
2004), "34 states decide by voting on 163 issues" (Nov. 4, 2004), "In U.S. more than 30
states will hold referendum for controversial issues" (Oct. 26, 2004), and "Colorado will
change election system, so that the master of White House may be changed too?" (Sept.
26, 2004). Another headline only described the voters will have multi-tasks beyond
voting for the president, "More tasks for voters on 11/2" (Nov. 1, 2004).
* "Administration and voting machines" sub-theme
Some of the United Daily News headlines focused on the voting mechanisms of
U.S. election system as "controversial". For example, one lead described the lack of poll
workers for Nov. 2, and read, "Election lacks 500,000 assistants, one disaster after
another" (Nov. 1, 2004). Another lead attributed the problem to the managing the large
number of voters, "Turnout rate is near to 60%, hits a new 36 year high" (Nov. 4, 2004).
* "Voting controversy: Conspiracy" sub-theme
Two headlines also portrayed the "controversy" theme as the tension and the
political arguments taking place on the Internet: "Election conspiracy rumors all over the
Internet" (Nov. 12, 2004), and "Internet conspiracy: Kerry should have won" (Nov. 11,
China Times: A "Kerry won the debates" theme was easily seen throughout the
articles in the "debate" frame. There were 9 leads carrying the articles emphasizing
Kerry's superior performance over Bush in the three debates, and Bush's improved
debate performance in the last two debates. Some expressions were unfavorable toward
Bush and favorable toward Kerry, such as "Bush acted improperly," "Bush is obviously
the loser," "Kerry won the debate," Kerry gained the upper hand," and "Kerry performed
as a real leader" were found in the frame. Some examples of the theme are as follows:
"The first debate was a very spectacular performance in foreign policy and national
security. Kerry acted decently, a winner; whereas Bush was obviously
disappointing, a loser" (Oct. 2, 2004).
"Three debates saved Kerry. Especially in the first one, Bush acted very
improperly, where Kerry advanced in the polls, which made the campaign more
competitive" (Oct. 15, 2004).
However, some leads in the "Kerry won the debates" theme also conveyed how
Kerry did not earn the assumed benefits from the debates in the polls. The voters seemed
not to change their minds. Examples are:
... According to network polls, Kerry's performance is better than Bush, but the
voters opinion did not have a big change. Bush still leads" (Oct. 2, 2004).
... According to a Los Angeles Times poll, people who thought Kerry won the
first debate were three times more than Bush. However, the voting intention did not
change greatly since both candidates' level of support are tied" (Oct. 4, 2004).
Some leads communicated very negative messages about the two candidates. A
lead carried a story from The Associated Press criticized both candidates' statements: "
... In the first debate, both candidates overly simplified the issues and exaggerated the
facts to emphasize their points on diplomacy or domestic affairs" (Oct. 2, 2004). Two
leads showed the candidates' attacks of each other in first verbal battle: ... Kerry
criticized Bush's Iraq War as a 'critical misjudgment' whereas Bush called Kerry a 'flip-
flopper' ... (Oct. 2, 2004); ... Bush attacked Kerry as the ultra-leftist in U.S. politics,
whereas Kerry said Bush is the Mafia in the movies" (Oct. 15, 2004).
The China Times'leads regarding the vice-presidential debate were relatively
neutral to both camps in the "debate" frame, because the terms such as "tied
competition," "personal attacks," "a minor role to a major role," and "neutrality of
media" were widely used to describe the role that the vice-presidential debate played. For
example, "Unlike the obvious victory and defeat of the presidential debates, the vice-
presidential debate on the Tuesday night was tied, which the polls afterwards were
discordant [to the horse racing of both vice-presidential candidates] ... (Oct. 7, 2004).
United Daily News: The coverage of the first debate was dominant in the frame,
which had a total of 14 stories. The second debate had 3 stories, the third-debate had 8,
and the vice-president debate had 6 stories in the United Daily News. The following
paragraphs will address the three most dominant sub-themes: "candidates' performances"
and "foreign-issues" in the first debate, and "harsh attacks" in the third debate.
S "Candidates' performances" sub-theme
During the first debate, the dominant leads (n=8) were about the "candidates'
performances," a sub-theme further found that Kerry's performance was distinct, which
saved him from a bad situation before the debate and greatly annoyed the Republican
Party. The attributes of horse race coverage were shown by the polls in the theme. Some
leads portrayed Kerry's success on the first debate, using phrases such as "Kerry took
advantage of the debates," "Kerry did a good job," and "the situation has changed." For
"Analysts said Democratic candidate Kerry did a good job in the first debate,
wiping up the inferior situation, and restored him from the dead" (Oct. 4, 2004).
... The sudden reverse upset the Republican campaign staffs who worried the
situation could not be recovered after a setback" (Oct. 5, 2004).
The other leads added that Bush still got higher support rates in the polls. For
... Who is the winner of the first debate of U.S. presidential election? The media
and news polls showed Kerry got the overwhelming support ahead of Bush in the
debate; however, ABC said that Kerry won beautifully in the debate, yet lost in the
polls that voters haven't changed their minds. For now, Bush still leads" (Oct 1,
... Although Kerry took advantage of the debate, Bush's campaign manager Marc
Racicot insisted that Kerry's upper hand was very transitory. The updated polls
after the debate showed that the two candidates were tied, making the election more
tense" (Oct 15, 2004).
* "Foreign issues" sub-theme
The minor theme was "foreign issues" (n=5), which mainly communicated both
candidates' stances on foreign policies, anti-terrorism and war issues. For example, one
lead retrieved from political experts stated that the two candidates' foreign policies were
no different: "Bush and Kerry have the same intention but use different means. Bush
claimed military power, whereas Kerry focused on allied relationships" (Oct. 1, 2004).
Generally, the leads of the "foreign issues" theme coverage tended to be neutral toward
* "Harsh attack" sub-theme
The "harsh attack" image was found overall in some leads (n=4) during the third
debate. All of these leads were negative for both candidates, using attack words or
phrases such as problems of "financial deterioration," "unemployment," and "money
spending liberal." One example was as follows:
"Kerry blamed the Bush Administration for the deterioration of the economy and
unemployment; Bush criticized Kerry as a money spending liberal who only knows
tax levy" (Oct. 15, 2004).
Liberty Times: A sub-theme of "polarization" was found in the "debate" frame,
portraying how the candidates' domestic and foreign policies were distinctly different in
three debates. For example, a lead retrieved from both candidates' statements in the first
debate read that "Kerry blamed Bush's judgment on Iraq War, made 'extremely great
mistakes,' leaving a 'stunning Iraq mess' to America; whereas Bush described Kerry as a
weak leader fostering the enemy, and the military questioned Kerry: 'how to follow the
guy?'" (Oct. 2, 2004). Some other leads showed the two candidates' different views:
... The basic policy difference of two candidates has become the distinct contrast
in the campaign. They leave voters two distinct choices: stand by Bush's resolution
on fixed policies or support the Kerry's revolution on new policies" (Oct. 2, 2004).
"President Bush and his democratic opponent Kerry debated on domestic issues of
unemployment, health insurance and national security, with entirely different point
of views ... (Oct. 15, 2004).
Three leads from different story origins (Reuters, New York Times, and Features)
described how the debates this year had an unusually big impact on campaigns. One lead
read ... in 25 years, no one debate like these is so decisive on the election. The three
debates changed the direction of election" (Oct. 15, 2004). Another lead read, "It is said
that Kerry has the last chance to succeed by debates ... (Oct. 2, 2004). Another lead
described that after the Kennedy and Nixon's debates in 1960, TV debates had not had a
decisive influence on presidential elections, but "the hair-breadth horse race is very
seldom in recent years. The debates became the most exciting drama on TV prime time"
(Oct. 14, 2004).
China Times: Three major sub-themes "division," "Kerry," and "controversy"
were found in the "campaign" frame.
* "Division" sub-theme
After the election, the "campaign" was framed as a "divided U.S.", because Kerry
supporters were not satisfied with the outcome of the election. The sub-theme "divided
U.S." employed terms like "dispute," "cheat," and "immigrate" to portray people's
emotion. The frame also reflected on the Internet discussions, on the blue states, or on
immigration. Words such as "reunite," "bind" and "separate" were used to communicate
the hopes of two candidates, who both appealed to people for cooperation after the
election. For example, one lead compared the campaign with the Civil War describing"
... nowadays the division issue suddenly is brought up fervently in some parts of blue
states" (Nov. 9, 2004). Another lead described how "Democratic president candidate
Kerry called Republican candidate Bush in the morning of the 3rd, with his
congratulations. Bush praised Kerry as a valiant and venerable opponent. They both
agreed the nation can not be divided anymore" (Nov. 4, 2004).
* "Kerry" sub-theme
In the "campaign" frame, the coverage of the China Times was not optimistic
about Senator Kerry. Five leads were found unfavorable to Kerry, and illustrated the
obstacles to Kerry's success. Two leads mentioned the independent candidate Ralph
Nader who may again have an impact on the Democratic candidate Kerry: ... Although
the rate of voting for Nader was only 1%, it was enough to have big influence on Senator
Kerry. The Nader effect threatened a critical state-New Mexico" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Moreover, more people were pessimistic about Kerry before the first debate. Another
lead illustrated Kerry's performance even disappointed some Democrats. It read "While
the Democratic candidate Kerry is preparing for the first TV debate, the atmosphere
among most senior Democrats was pessimistic. Some privately were very discouraged
about Kerry; they even thought the general hope for 2004 was gone, and turned their
hope to 2008" (Sept. 29, 2004).
One lead presented another factor why Kerry failed in this election:
"... According to an anonymous source familiar with the inside story, the
campaign battle actually failed before it began. The reason is that Kerry had to deal
with Teresa's tough temper, while fighting against the tough Republicans; plus, the
campaign group itself fought against each other. This outcome was not surprising"
(Nov. 6, 2004).
* "Controversy" sub-theme
A "controversy" sub-theme was portrayed in the "campaign" frame. The negative
terms "obstruct," "threat," "disorder," "chaos," "dispute," "entanglement," and
"suspense" were persuasive throughout the articles. The terms were used to explain how
a flawed electoral system could impact the outcome. For example, one lead read "...the
election nightmare came back. This time, it is the state of Ohio. The results are in
suspension, and may be subjected to legal action ..." (Nov. 4, 2004). Other leads were as
... Two parties accused each other of deception, of obstructing the vote, and
threatening their opponents. The officials are exhausted and hope to prevent a
voting disaster on the Election Day next month" (Oct. 27, 2004).
"To prevent a repeat of the entanglement of the 2000 presidential election, the U.S.
presidential election starts today. Hundred thousands of lawyers stationed on
election eve" (Nov. 3, 2004).
Liberty Times: The dominant sub-themes "campaign battle" and "controversy"
were found in the "campaign" frame, illustrating this unprecedented presidential election
was drastic and controversial. The two candidates fought fiercely to get the electoral
votes of the swing states, such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Terms and phrases
such as "intense," "deadlock," "swing states," "lawyers or lawsuits," "votes controversy,"
were present throughout the leads in the frame. In general, most of the leads were
negative in the "controversy" theme, yet neutral in the "campaign battle" theme. For
"To avoid the same mistake of the 2000 presidential election, the U.S. has reformed
its legislation and updated voting techniques. Yet more and more experts are afraid
that the voters will not know the outcome on the eve of the Election Day this year"
(Oct. 31, 2004).
"If Florida's voting recount was a mess four years ago, then the deadlock of the
two candidates in Pennsylvania this year will be much worse as it starts to check
votes" (Oct. 31, 2004).
"The unusually tense U.S. election campaign is decided by the last-minute battle:
two candidates are hastening to critical states for votes; millions come out and urge
voting turnouts; and the logistic lawyer groups are prepared for any election
controversy"(Nov. 3, 2004).
"No matter who will be elected as president, the 2004 U.S. election has become the
longest, most expensive, and most intense election battle during the wartime, which
will be remembered a reputation for its painfully political polarization" (Nov. 4,
Of all 39 campaign-related stories, Liberty Times covered 13 (33%) under the
"campaign battle" and "controversy" theme increasingly in October and November,
particularly from October 27 to November 3, when the election was decided. The leads
were categorized as follows,
Table 4-9. Numbers of campaign coverage in October and November by themes in
Date 2 18 27 28 31 1 2 3
Theme 1* 1 1 1 2 1 2
Theme 2* 1 2 1 3 4
*Theme 1 denotes "campaign battle"; and theme 2 denotes "controversy".
United Daily News: Words that illustrated the "anti-Bush" theme were found
throughout the 'Bush campaign" headlines, leads and conclusions. This sub-theme used
words that showed how Kerry supporters were encouraging the defeat of Bush. In the
United Daily News leads, the words "defeat Bush" "criticize Bush" "unseat Bush"
"support Kerry," and "vote for change" illustrated the "anti-Bush" theme. Examples are:
"'The Star-Spangled Banner' rang out from Bruce Springsteen's 12-string guitar as
he started his set in Pennsylvania. It was a statement of patriotism and populism on
his first night of stumping the swing states to support Sen. John Kerry or, more
precisely, to urge a vote to unseat President Bush" (Oct. 15, 2004).
"George Soros, an international financier who has given $18 million to Democratic
advocacy groups to defeat President Bush, is preparing to spend millions more as
the Election Day approaches. He is going on a 12-city speaking tour to criticize
President Bush. He is using his wealth and fame against Bush" (Sept. 29, 2004).
To show the level of discontent over Bush's Iraq policy, thousands of protesters
demonstrated on the campus of the University of Miami while the first debate was going
on. ... Some people carried a coffin covered by a flag on their shoulders, emotionally
claiming their discontent of Bush's Iraq policy" (Oct. 1, 2004).
A lead which was attributed to the Boston Globe outlined Bush's problematic
military record stating "Bush did not carry out his military obligation during the Vietnam
War, and was long absent during the training without punishment. In mid 1973, Bush did
not show up for active duty in the Air Force, which seemed to violate the contract with
the U.S. government" (Sept. 9, 2004).
Former President George Bush blames attacks on his son on the controversial
filmmaker Michael Moore and his "Fahrenheit 9/11", a film widely seen as critical of
Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. ... Bush Sr. said he is very worried because the
battle with Kerry is harsh and tangled. The intension is almost like his senate campaign
years ago, and he is afraid the old ulcer from thirty years ago would break out again"
(Oct. 15, 2004).
United Daily News: The "Kerry" frame was found in the lead of articles. As in the
headlines, the "Kerry" frame contained the attitude of the media, Former President
Clinton, and a few supporters as a "Kerry support" sub-theme. The words or phrases
"prefer Kerry," and "claim support" always appeared in these leads under the theme.
"A magazine The New Yorker openly claimed it supports Democratic president
candidate Kerry as the U.S.'s next president on Nov. 1. It was the first time, the
magazine proclaimed its preference for a president candidate in 80 years" (Oct. 26,
"A local weekly newspaper of Bush's hometown in Texas announced its support
for Kerry on 28th. It said it doesn't agree with Bush's Iraq policy so that it turns to
his opponent, Senator Kerry, as the next president" (Sept. 29, 2004).
Former President Clinton was another dominant element in the "Kerry" theme.
UnitedDaily News covered voters' great ovation to Clinton after his heart operation, and
his bitter criticism toward Bush in Pennsylvania. On a single day, Oct. 26, 2004, United
Daily News covered stories about Clinton's speech attacking Bush in three separate
stories-different authors and story origins, yet similar articles. The phrases "blame Bush
and Republicans intimidate voters" were attributed to Clinton in all three stories.
"Former President Clinton, who underwent a heart operation seven weeks ago,
made an effort to support Democratic presidential candidate Kerry in Pennsylvania
on the 25th. He received an enthusiastic reception like a rock-and-roll star. He told
the audience that President Bush and the Republicans were attempting to intimidate
the middle-class voters not to vote for Kerry."
"In the last eight days, Former President Clinton, who had a heart operation seven
weeks ago, made an effort to support Democratic presidential candidate Kerry in
Pennsylvania on the 25th, giving Kerry a big hand to get in the White House at this
critical moment. Clinton's return from surgery caused a sensation like a rock-and-
roll star. He told the audience that President Bush and Republicans tempted to
intimidate the middle-class voters into voting for Kerry."
"In the last eight days of the campaign, it is said that 400 tons of traditional
explosives went missing in Iraq, which called into question the White House's
competence on the handling of the war in Iraq again. Former President Clinton
returned from surgery and asked people to vote for the Democratic president
candidate Kerry in Pennsylvania today, blaming President Bush for attempting to
threaten the voters not to vote for Kerry. Kerry used the missing explosives as an
example to point out Bush's "incapability."
Some of the "Kerry" theme focused on Kerry's personality, background and
shortcomings. A lead read "... 61-year-old presidential candidate Kerry has worked hard
and paved the road to White House for the last 40 years. In the summer of 1962, Kerry
had the pleasure to be on the same boat with daring-and-energetic Kennedy, when he got
the ambition for 'being someone'" (Sept. 5, 2004). Another lead mentioned Kerry's
background that Judicial Watch tried to investigate Kerry's military medal but failed, "
... Navy claimed Kerry's medal was under the appropriate examination" (Sept. 18,
2004). Two leads illustrated Kerry's disadvantage in the campaign under the "Kerry"
theme. One during the Republican National Convention, read ... Kerry's lead caught
up, or even surpassed by Bush since this month. Democrats start to worry and think new
strategies are needed to win" (Sept. 2, 2004). Kerry's wife Teresa was covered after the
result of the election, ... Kerry had to deal and squabble with his tough and suspicious
wife, Teresa." The dispute had never been stopped within the camp..."
Some leads of the "Kerry" theme focused on "criticism," including Bush's
conduct in Iraq and the economy. For example, ... Kerry again harshly attacked the
Bush administration on the legitimacy of the war in Iraq and the fragile economy" (Oct.
4, 2004). A Democratic senator also strictly reproached Bush for making the world more
dangerous, "Bush's handling of Iraq is the poisonous mix of ignorance, arrogance and
stubborn ideology" (Sept. 28, 2004). A final example is:
"Democratic presidential candidate Kerry claimed that Bush's privatization of
social security if reelected will be a 'big January surprise up', because the plan
allows individuals to open social security accounts, which will reduce the
retirement welfare and expands the government deficit. Kerry said it is definitely a
catastrophe for the middle class" (Oct. 18, 2004).
China Times: In the "foreign" frame, several articles (n=10) illustrated that many
countries were concerned about the outcome of the 2004 U.S. election. The "world
concern" sub-theme in the leads expressed the concept of "concern" by foreigners. Words
or phrases such as "nervous," "influential," or "pay attention to," described as the attitude
that foreigners held about the U.S. presidential election. One lead read, "During the last
30 days to the Election Day, not only U.S. voters are paying more attention to the
developments in the election, "World Citizens" also voice their opinions on the
influential election through the powerful communication channel: Internet" (Oct. 4,
2004). Other examples were:
"A nation's presidential election should be its own interior affair. Many foreign
leaders, however, gave up their neutral attitude about the U.S. presidential election;
instead, they showed their support to specific candidates" (Nov. 1,2004).
... As U.S.'s old allied country in Europe, England is always concerned about
U.S. elections. But why is England unusually cautious this time?" (Nov. 1, 2004).
"A poll of 35 countries showed that people hope Democratic candidate Kerry
replaces Republican President Bush. The thoughts are clearer from U.S.'s old
allies, except for very few supporting Bush. The poll also found that Bush's foreign
policies caused most interviewees to have a bad impression of the U.S." (Sept. 10,
The only positive leads for President Bush were from his close ally Japan: "U.S.
frantic election storm hit Japan, because Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi was attacked
by the opposition party for saying, "I hope Bush can last." The cabinet clarified the
statement. But the official ... was worried that Japan will get into trouble if Bush was not
reelected" (Oct. 16, 2004).
Interestingly, Koizumi's supportive message was not forgotten by China Times two
weeks later: "the best allied friend of U.S., Koizumi, is now facing the most difficult time
... Koizumi's close friendship with Bush is one of the most important strengths of
stability. However, if Bush lost, Koizumi's Administration would be questioned, facing a
harsh challenge" (Nov. 1, 2004).
United Daily News: "The economy" theme was the most dominant sub-theme
under the "foreign policy" frame. An example stated that the world audience was staring
at the TV screen and waiting for the election results; "Many investors think who becomes
the U.S. president will have a great impact on the global economy and stock market"
(Nov. 3, 2004).
After Bush was reelected, most leads of these articles (n=8) described the decline
of the U.S. dollar as having an impact on other countries around the world. For example,
"the French president said that he is worried about the weakness of the U.S. dollar will
influence European exports and economy. He also implied the Euro should take action"
(Nov. 6, 2004).
* "U.S. and China relationship" sub-theme
A sub-theme of the "U.S. and China relationship" was found in the "foreign"
theme. The words and phrases expressing a "perfect relationship," "APEC meeting," and
"phone call to Powell" shaped the image of the good relationship between these two
countries after Bush's reelection. For example, China Foreign Minister Li phoned U.S.
Secretary of State Powell about "the details of coordination of the economy, anti-
terrorism, nuclear weapons in North Korea, and law. They also exchanged opinions about
how to resolve nuclear weapon in Iran under the frame of International Atomic Energy
Agency" (Nov. 6, 2004).
"U.S. secretary of state Powell said in an interview of CNBC that, the current
relationship between the U.S. and China is in the best era in 30 years. He said,
Beijing plays a very important role in the North Korea crisis, and in the India and
Pakistan relationship" (Nov. 14, 2004).
"After the reelection, U.S. President Bush will meet with China leader Hu Jing-tao
for the APEC in Chile at the end of this month. China will present new thoughts
about developments with U.S., and discuss the Taiwan problem" (Nov. 16, 2004).
* "China policy" sub-theme
A sub-theme "China policy" was also found in the "foreign" theme. In these cases,
the U.S. policy was framed as remaining unchanged in its objection towards Taiwan
independence, and playing a facilitating role. For example, a lead citing the president of
Mainland Affairs Council stated, "the election will not change U.S. policy towards
Taiwan, and either candidate if elected will play an active role as a facilitator" (Nov. 4,
2004). A direct quotation citing Powell said that Taiwan is a "Non-sovereignty country,"
and the precise word "reunite."
"Powell was interviewed in Beijing. He released a strong message of anti-
independence, a position of Taiwan as a "non-sovereignty country." He even
pointed out that the ultimate road for these two sides is to 'reunite'-such a
sensitive and exact language with no confusion. The statement is very rare. It was
either Powell is too old and made mistakes, or meant U.S. policy does change
severely" (Oct. 26, 2004).
* "Foreign" sub-theme
The "foreign" theme often referred to "national security," a sub-theme illustrating
the influence of terrorist Osama Bin Laden's video and both candidates' Iraq policy. The
terms "safe," "terrorism," "threat," and "Bin Laden," were contained in the leads in the
theme. The Bush camp attacked Kerry's flip-flopping; Kerry attacked Bush's leadership
in Iraq citing the missing bombs. In an article carrying the lead, the following narrative
"Democratic president candidate criticized Bush's failure as a military leader,
because of the 380 tons of missing bombs in Iraq. The incapability to lead has
made the U.S. and the military unsafe. White House spokesman Mike McCurry
replied in a low key, that the Defense has instructed multi-country army and Iraqi
investigative group to investigate the event. He also said the missing weapons were
traditional bombs with no nuclear expansion danger" (Oct. 26, 2004).
Some articles focused on the video in which Bin Laden threatened the U.S. people
and was played on an Iraq TV station, but U.S. officials claimed U.S. was safe at the
time, ... The video threatened to attack the U.S., but U.S. officials did not receive any
specific information that the terrorists may attack on the Election Day. The U.S. national
security minister appealed for calm" (Nov. 1, 2004).
An article which described the European view on the war carried a lead that "Bush
will still rule the United States, the war will last. This is the message released by some
European major media about the result of U.S. election on 3rd. A German newspaper,
.N,,ith Germany Daily, even said 80 percent of Europeans were disappointed and
confused about Bush's reelection" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Liberty Times: Three major sub-themes "national security," "economy," and "world
concern" were found in the "foreign policy" frame
* "National security" sub-theme
The dominant theme found in the leads was "national security", which contained 6
stories talking about the "Bin Laden video" and 5 about "change of voting intention" in
the "foreign policy" frame. The analysis of the video portrayed how it was found and
played, what role Bin Laden had in the video, and the threat of terrorism. Furthermore, by
the phrase "October surprise," the two candidates started to attack each other. An
example of this is "Democrats again have excuses to question President Bush's
leadership ... (Oct. 7, 2004), ... The video helps Bush's campaign; but some
Democrats think Bin Laden's appearance reminds the voters of Kerry's accusation
against Bush, helping Kerry advance- Bin Laden has not been arrested so far" (Oct. 31,
2004). However, a lead showed both candidates agree that Americans' voting intentions
would not be changed by the video: "Americans' voting intentions 'will not be influenced
or threatened'; Kerry said that Americans will 'definitely unite' on the resolution to
defeat terrorism ... (Oct. 31, 2004).
* "Economy" sub-theme
The leads that carried an "economy" theme showed Asian stock markets performed
well after Bush's reelection in a positive tone; yet it also negatively showed that the rise
of oil prices had an influence on the Bush administration, which made investors uneasy.
For example, one lead cited the positive statement of Taiwan's economic minister Ho
stated, "After Bush is reelected, the economic relationship between Taiwan and the U.S.
should be better ... (Nov. 4, 2004). Another lead negatively portrayed the market
demand of oil as worrisome to investors: "The oil price of New York turned back the
price of 50 dollars on Wednesday, mainly because U.S. President Bush was reelected,
which the market predicts will raise up the demand for oil, for the second Bush
Administration will continue to increase the military reserves. Also, his foreign policy
toward Middle-Eastern oil countries, like Iran, made the investors uneasy" (Nov. 4,
* "World concern" sub-theme
Three leads illustrated that the tense election attracted the world's attention,
because U.S. business is related to other countries in every corner of the globe. However,
unlike the other two newspapers, the Liberty Times only reported one story about foreign
people's dislike for Bush. The lead read, "The polls of mainstream newspapers in allied
countries show that" President Bush's policy has irritated the globe's antipathy, and most
people prefer Democratic candidate Kerry as the next president of U.S." (Oct. 16, 2004).
United Daily News: In the voting controversy frame, the negative terms such as
"cheat," "threaten," "falsify," "lawsuit," "deceive," "supervise," "manipulate," were
pervasive in the leads and articles, illustrating the chaos of the U.S. election mechanisms
of voter registration, ballots identification, voting machines, and so on. Some articles
described the fear about one another's manipulation of voter registration, and the two
camps accused each other of intimidating voters. An example is as follows:
"It is understandable if the voters presume the Supreme Court would mediate the
result of presidential election once more. New lawsuits of the discontent of election
rules occur every day. News coverage on deception and manipulation is often seen.
Thousands of lawyers have made their best efforts for two campaigns. It is
predicted more lawyers will stand by on the Election Day" (Oct. 27, 2004).
"U.S. presidential election counts down to only 20 days left. Rumors from the
states of Colorado and Nevada suggested some manipulated voters registrations. A
few private companies cheated voters and falsified voters' data, even throwing
away many registration documents of the opponent parties. The victims could
number thousands. Democratic Party, accuse Republican Party as being involved"
(Oct. 14, 2004).
After the election, the coverage in United Daily News also highlighted how blogs
and emails on the Internet were filled with messages about election cheating, such as "the
ballots were falsified," "the election deceived by electronic voting" (Nov. 12, 2004), and
a message about "a stolen election."
Some of the leads illustrated the chaos of the voting process, because the voting
turnout was very high. An example was, ... Many voting places in U.S. had long lines.
The voting machines were out of order in some states without an updated election
system" (Nov. 4, 2004).
Another sub-theme "referendum" was found in the "controversy" theme. The leads
described the referendum on the "electoral college" could have a great impact on the
result of the presidential election. Also, the "death vote" mattered in the results. A lead
illustrating the chaos, read as follows:
"At least 30 states in the U.S. carried out early voting. The voters voted early,
because they worried about chaos such as crowded lines, tensions, or unpredicted
events. What if the voters voted and died afterwards, should the 'death vote' count?
Each state and county has different resolution dealing with it. The election is a
mess" (Nov. 1, 2004).
Although most of the leads in the frame used negative terms to describe the
controversy, they tended to have a neutral tone towards both candidates.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The findings suggest that the frames of "debate," "campaign," "foreign policy," and
"tension" (United Daily News divided the "campaign" frame into "Bush" and "Kerry"
frames) were the four major lenses for the Taiwan readers to understand the 2004 foreign
presidential election. It seems likely these frames of the three newspapers work together
to intensify global public support for Senator John Kerry, yet the Taiwan government
supports President Bush. From this perspective, news frames not only provide the public
the knowledge of major international news, they also provide the lenses through which
the foreign readers can reinterpret media discourse. As McCombs suggested, "frames
have been described as schemataa of interpretation' ... Frames call our attention to the
dominant perspectives in these pictures that not only suggest what is relevant and
irrelevant, but that actively promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation,
moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation for the item described" (McCombs,
2004, p. 89). For Bush, for example, coverage that emphasized the global economy
progress appears to encourage the redefinition of certain classes of anti-Bush content by
the many members of the public.
This framing research to "how to think about it" examined "how journalists present
or ignore competing explanations of what factors are causing a problem, and what
solutions might be possible" (Maher, 2001, p. 88). In this sense, the research recognizes
that journalists play an important role in constructing the news by choosing the language
in the headlines and leads, news origins, sources, and relevant information about certain
features of news stories. "Frames within news coverage can focus public attention on
particular criteria and, in so doing, may alter the basis of political judgment" (Shah,
Watts, Momke, & Fan, 2002; Dalton, Beck, & Huckfeldt, 1998). In order to answer the
research questions of how the three major newspapers in Taiwan framed news about the
2004 U.S. presidential campaign, what their favorable or unfavorable messages were and
what the difference was between them, here is a summary of the main framing.
The "debates" frame was dominant in the three newspapers' coverage during this
time period. Through the "debate" frame, focusing on the first debate in particular, the
three newspapers framed the U.S. presidential election as the most important
international news. United Daily News had the greatest number of stories during the
debate weeks. The United Daily News also covered the debates the most thoroughly. For
instance, one controversial story unfavorable to President Bush, claiming that he should
be suspended because of an alleged device that protruded on the back of his suit in the
first debate, appeared only in the United Daily News. This story suggested that Bush was
receiving coaching for his answers.
What were the differences in election coverage among the three online
All newspapers reported that Senator Kerry performed better than President Bush
by the coverage of U.S. polls. United Daily News pursued the comparison of two
candidates' performance, often portraying the two candidates as actors with a lighter
tone, as if it was amusing. However, the coverage showed that the debates improved
Kerry's candidacy and raised his hopes of being elected. Meanwhile, based on the polls,
China Times framed a theme that Kerry won the debates, yet Bush still won the voters. It
was also unfavorable to both candidates because the mutual attacks reported were
negative. Liberty Times tended to focus on the issue frames that appeared in the debates
and provided neutral coverage of both candidates.
The "campaign" frame was the most complicated frame for its continuous change
and development throughout the election coverage. The developmental sub-frames
focused on the campaign battle, the controversy of vote counts, waiting for results, and
the tension of national division after the election. Focusing on Election Day, especially
coverage between Nov. 1 and Nov. 4, each newspaper increased its coverage of the U.S.
election. On Nov. 4, UnitedDaily News covered 36 stories related to the U.S. presidential
election. China Times focused more on Kerry's potential influence if he was elected, as
well as the later stages of the presidential election- the global and regional influence of
the outcome; whereas Liberty Times generally paid more attention to the campaign battle
and election controversy.
In United Daily News, the campaign frame was separated distinctly by two frames:
the "Bush" and "Kerry" frames. Given the competitive situation of the two candidates,
these frames focused on fierce competition, supporters, and opponent attacks. In the
"Bush" frame, United Daily News was very unfavorable to President Bush, because it
covered many anti-Bush stories, like street demonstrations and the Democrats' attacks. In
the "Kerry" frame, however, it covered no "anti-Kerry" story. The United Daily News
also covered stories that illustrated a variety of celebrity support for Kerry; however, for
Bush the only celebrity support covered was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Moreover, in the "Kerry" frame, Bush was
portrayed as the candidate who made a lot of mistakes, which his opponent Kerry could
easily attack. Kerry was only attacked to a lesser degree about his military record by the
opponent in the stories. Although it usually did not show the reporters' bias in these
stories, the choice of the coverage itself may communicate the reporters' preference.
Foreign Policy Frame
A dominant frame found by the three newspapers was the "foreign policy" frame,
with sub-themes of the issue of U.S. national security, the Taiwan-strait issue, and a
political and economic view of foreign policies. For Taiwanese readers, the "foreign
policy" frame may have been the most predominant among all frames.
How did the three online papers frame news of the Republican candidate President
Bush and Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry, in terms of favorable or unfavorable
In China Times, analysts' and experts' points of view were reported more for this
frame than other frames. The content analysis suggests that Bush was the preferred
choice by both the Chinese and Taiwanese governments, because before or after the
outcome of the election, the articles appeared to suggest that Bush was regarded as a
candidate who is clear about the future foreign policy of the Taiwan-strait issue; whereas,
Kerry appeared to give Taiwan sources very unpredictable feelings about his course of
action on the issue.
Compared to the other two newspapers' coverage on the world's negative public
opinion, Liberty Times simply portrayed foreigners' active concern of the election, yet the
Liberty Times seldom communicated an anti-Bush message in the "foreign policy" frame,
or other frames. Also, Liberty Times did not focus on the political influence of the
outcome of election but on the outcome's economic impact. Based on Taiwan's
economic performance, the Liberty Times balanced the unfavorable and favorable
coverage of Bush's reelection in general.
Not surprisingly, UnitedDaily News was not enthusiastic about Bush's reelection.
In contrast to its optimistic attitude to Bush's reelection influence on Taiwan's stock
markets, UnitedDaily News framed the worse political relationship with the U.S. as
growing due to the pressure of the suppression of the potential independence, by
repeatedly stressing the hard-line attitude of Secretary of State Colin Powell on the
independence issue. However, it framed China's relationship with the United States very
optimistic, getting better and better as if on a honeymoon.
United Daily News frequently covered unfavorable stories about the U.S. election
system, which was portrayed as very problematic. The framing of the election system
focused on the controversies of the election system during the election and tense
atmosphere among the U.S. public after the election, which likely increased foreign
readers' interest. In the "election system" frame, most stories were characterized by state
cases, such as specific state's lawsuits and referendums. Furthermore, the Republican
Party seemed to be framed as unscrupulously mean regarding the manipulation of the
U.S. election system because most of the accusations were made by the Democratic
Party. In this sense, the frames of World Journal, the biggest Chinese newspaper in the
United States and the branch newspaper of UnitedDaily News, would also be inferred to
the similar media effect on the Chinese population in the United States.
These findings are a step toward understanding the dynamics of Taiwanese news
coverage during this critical period in the world events. The media framed the first debate
of President Bush and Senator Kerry as the most important international news during the
"debates period." In particular, United Daily News covered the debates the most
thoroughly, most of which were from its branch newspaper in the United States- World
Journal. The United Daily News pursued the comparison of two candidates' performance
as if in a funny TV show. China Times framed a theme that Kerry won the debates, yet
Bush still won the voters. Liberty Times reported fewer stories than the other two papers
and focuses on the debate "issues" rather than "candidates," which provided neutral
coverage of both candidates.
For the campaign, China Times appeared to emphasize Kerry's potential influence
if he was elected, as well as the global and regional influence of the outcome. The "Bush"
frame of the United Daily News was very unfavorable to President Bush, which covered
many anti-Bush stories and portrayed him as the candidate who made a lot of mistakes; in
its "Kerry" frame, however, it covered no "anti-Kerry" story but a variety of celebrity
support for Kerry. Liberty Times generally paid more attention to the campaign battle and
election controversy, instead of portraying its favorability toward the candidates.
Although the stories did not often reveal the reporters' bias, the choice of the coverage
itself had communicated the reporters' preference.
These findings are also a step toward understanding the foreign policy position of
Taiwanese people and the government. China Times suggests that both Taiwanese and
Chinese governments would be pleased to see President Bush's reelection, for his hard-
line yet predictable foreign policy than Kerry in East Asia, even though the two
governments were not willing to show their preference publicly. The United Daily News
also held an optimistic attitude toward Bush's reelection for its perspective on the
economic performance in East Asia influenced by the outcome of the election. Moreover,
the political interactions among Taiwan, China and the United States were portrayed as
either optimistic or pessimistic by the media and may influence Taiwan's foreign policy.
Indeed, the biggest liberal newspaper- Liberty Times, simply portrayed other countries'
active concern of the election without communicating negative and anti-Bush messages,
and did not show its points of view on Taiwan-strait political issues. The findings suggest
that Liberty Times subjectively favored President Bush without a clearly stated rationale.
Limitations of the Study
One potential limitation in this study was that the electronic version of these major
newspapers appeared to cover different context of news stories, editorials, and features
from their print newspapers, due to the frequently updated characteristics of the Internet
publishing. The researcher may have downloaded the articles that only appeared on the
websites for fewer than 30 minutes. Moreover, all of the three online-version newspapers
have no subheads which would give the main ideas of a story. Due to the huge amount of
circulation of these three newspapers in Taiwan, the hardcopy printed version of the
newspapers should also be considered in the study. Overall, however, the use of the
electronic version of the newspapers was much likely to be more helpful and sufficient in
reducing the amount of time, space and money rather than gathering the archives of
Another limitation of the study was that the translation of hardcopy publications
into English sometimes may not be interpreted correctly due to the basic difference of the
two languages, especially if the Chinese usage in the headlines were very different from
English. However, for a better understanding of most global readers, the researcher
interpreted the news stories and presented her own points of view, according to the
concept of qualitative research.
Suggestions for Future Study
Although the purpose of this study was to discover what frames were used in the
articles by analyzing certain words and phrases in the headlines and leads, another
possibility for future research would be to add the examination of the quotes and
conclusion into the frames.
Based on the conclusions, further research in this area is available for examining
the media effects, the reaction of readers towards the international election news, the
public agenda- what images were shaped in people's mind, and the government
agenda- how Taiwanese government responds to the media and reflects on its foreign
policies. In order to get a complete understanding of the Taiwan media coverage reaching
the public, a future study is also suggested to conduct framing analysis of the coverage on
other types of media, particularly on television news.
Another suggestion for future research would be to compare the media coverage of
the United States with Taiwan on the U.S. presidential election, in order to look at
differences in framing as compared to Taiwan.
(1) Date: 2004.
(2) Online Newspapers
1 China Times
2 United Daily News
3 Liberty Times
(3) Story Origins
1 CNA (The Central News Agency)
2 Domestic (Taipei)
4 Dispatches or dispatches combination
5 AP (The Associate Press)
6 AFP (Agence France-Presse)
8 World Journal
9 New York Times
10 The Washington Post
1 Bush Campaigns 2 Kerry Campaign 3 US officials
4 Others 5 Absent
(8) Selection of Sources
1 Republican Party or its supporters
2 Democratic Party or its supporters
3 Neutral officials
4 Neutral media
5 Neutral institution or individual
(10) Statistics, Charts and Graphs
(11) Concluding statements
1. Date- yyyy.mm.dd
2. Newspaper name
3. Story Origins
CNA: Chinese based news agency The Central News Agency, gathering mostly Asian
Domestic: stories originated from the capital Taipei of Taiwan
Correspondents: titles in front of the (a) reporterss' name(s) identified as
Dispatches or dispatches combination: dispatches from one or more oversea origins
AP: stories originated from The Associate Press news agency
AFP: stories originated from Agence France-Press news agency
Reuters: stories originated from Reuters news agency
Dispatches or dispatches combination
World Journal: stories originated from American branch newspaper of UnitedDaily
New York Times: stories originated from New York Times news agency
The Washington Post: stories originated from The Washington Post news agency
Combinations: combined articles from any unidentified origins
Editorials: any story identified as opinions of one or more individuals or affiliates
Features: any story identified as opinions of a reporter or an affiliate, and also identified
as issue-analysis features; these headlines usually included words with basket.
Others: stories from any unidentified origins or other news agencies
Headline of an article. (No sub-heads were provided by these papers.)
Reporter(s) name(s) identified or unidentified in the byline
Stories joint with photos encoded present
Stories joint without photos encoded absent
First paragraph of a story. If there was only one sentence in the paragraph, second
paragraph was also written in the sheet, unless the second paragraph was entirely
quoted by sources (coded as quotation instead of leads).
8. Selection of Sources
The names and titles of all sources were written by categories, including individuals,
affiliates, books, flags, Internet blogs or any unidentified sources.
Republican Party or its supporters: sources who support President Bush, Republican
Party and Bush's policies, or dislike Senator Kerry. Most Republicans, White House
spokesmen, and pro-Bush officials were included, such as Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Congratulation telegrams to President Bush were excluded.
Democratic Party or its supporters: sources who support Senator Kerry, Democratic
Party and Kerry's policies, or dislike President Bush. Most Democrats and pro-Kerry
officials were included in this category.
Neutral officials: neutral speech from the sources of US officials appeared in an
individual article, no matter what parties he or she personally supports. Sources from
Constitution and government laws were regarded as sources of neutral officials.
Neutral media: sources from media, media or media allied polls, or media experts
whose speech were impartial, were included.
Neutral institution or individual: sources from scholars, experts, analysts, individual
voters, non-governmental organizations, or outside the U.S. which held neutral
opinions, were included.
Others: sources which could not be categorized were included; sources which didn't
support anyone, yet were not neutral either, were also included. For example, the
supporters of the third party and candidate Nader.
Direct quotations, always used within double quotation marks, provided by the
reference or source in most occasions.
Indirect quotations (unknown source, unsubstantiated source, anonymous source, etc.)
and Paraphrasing--The summarizes of a passage or rearrange the order of a sentence by
the source were excluded.
If terms quoted only noun, verb, adjective, the quotation were not chosen.
If terms were quoted in such as slogan, names of institution, activities or proverb, the
quotations were not chosen.
Statistics dominantly covered in one-half of a story were identified; or a detailed
statistics data had to be identified, such as credibility and sampling error. Otherwise,
the statistics was regarded as absence in a story.
Last paragraph of a story. If there was only one sentence in the paragraph, the last
second paragraph was also written in the coding sheet, unless the last second paragraph
was entirely quoted by sources.
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Hua-Ching Hsu was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her Bachelor
of Arts in Mass Communication degree from Tamkang University in Taipei, Taiwan, in
June of 1999. She was awarded two Taiwanese silver medals from the National
Broadcast Competition of Colleges.
Hsu worked as a freelance news program producer for Taiwan Television and an
advertising-and-promotion planner for Eastern Television. Upon receiving her master's
degree from the University of Florida in August 2005, she plans to return to Taiwanese
television as a news anchor.