Examining Trends in Moral News Framing Across a Decade of Television Coverage

Yesterday we released Extended Moral Foundations Dictionary scores for television news. To help you understand how to use these new scores, the team behind the eMFD has released this fantastic scoring guide and Jupyter notebook with an example comparison of moral foundations across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News!

By relying on GDELT's implementation of the extended Moral Foundations Dictionary (https://github.com/medianeuroscience/emfdscore), it is possible to examine differences in how news outlets morally frame their coverage.

For example, to assess whether particular news stations emphasize particular moral values over others, we can compute the representation of moral virtues (e.g., care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and sanctity) and moral vices (e.g., harm, cheating, betrayal, subversion, and degradation). See this document for an explanation on how to calculate these scores (https://blog.gdeltproject.org/wp-content/uploads/emfd_gdelt.pdf). As the below charts demonstrate, there is substantial variation in moral news framing across sources and time scales. Existing research has demonstrated that these moral frame news cycles follow specific event types (e.g., protests) and can even be used to forecast future events (Hopp, Fisher, & Weber, in press). Future analyses can further examine how these trends impact audiences' behaviors during particular time periods (e.g., election campaigns, COVID-19, etc.).

Hopp, F.R., Fisher, J. T., & Weber, R. (in press). Dynamic transactions between news frames and sociopolitical events: An integrative, hidden markov model approach. Journal of Communication, 70 (3).

Read The Scoring Guide.
Jupyter Notebook.
Validation Notebook.