Discussions have already drawn the "framing manual", when it was hardly known to anyone outside of ARD. "I think the excitement about the paper is completely exaggerated," said ulrich wilhelm, chairman of the ARD and director of bavarian broadcasting.
The initiative to take a closer look at language and its effects dates back to about two years ago, when the media in general were strongly criticized, according to the ARD chair and the ARD general secretariat.
At that time, the ARD chair was still at the mitteldeutscher rundfunk (MDR). According to ARD, the cost of the working document and accompanying workshops was 90 euros.000 euros paid by MDR as the presiding broadcaster. Another 30.000 euros were paid by the ARD general secretariat for follow-up workshops.
It is a workshop document from 2017 and not a binding communication strategy or a set of instructions for employees, the ARD chairman explained. Each state broadcasting station was free to decide how to deal with the findings.
ARD editor-in-chief rainald becker had thought a more open approach to the "framing manual" would be a good idea. On sunday, the platform "netzpolitik.Org" put the 89-page paper by linguist and cognitive scientist elisabeth wehling on the internet. "I think it’s okay that "netzpolitik".Org" has published it", said becker on tuesday. "But we were supposed to publish it ourselves, then everyone could get a picture of it. We have nothing to hide."
ARD’s general secretariat justified its decision not to publish the paper by saying that it was a document provided to participants in preparation for internal workshops. "Every company must have the opportunity to discuss itself in a protected space," the general secretariat announced on tuesday. "From our point of view, it does not make sense to publish it without embedding it in a critical workshop discussion."
The content of the manual was discussed at every workshop where it was used – and critically too. "From the workshops themselves there has been overall positive feedback so far that the topic of framing has been taken up and discussed openly," the general secretariat says. In view of the nature of the paper, the excitement and criticism of it is greatly exaggerated. "After all, this is a workshop document, not a communication strategy or a set of instructions for employees."
ARD editor-in-chief rainald becker also considers the reactions to the "framing manual" to be unobjectionable: "I can’t detect any scandal, as some have done. We have not paid anyone below minimum wage, we have not oppressed anyone. I find this an artificially inflated discussion.It’s good for ARD to deal with language and terminology," becker said. "But i personally did not need this paper."
Wehling had recommended, for example, that ARD should not just state facts, but should always communicate in the form of moral arguments if it wanted to get as many people as possible to support the idea of public broadcasting. Social media in particular were quick to criticize the ARD paper, claiming that ARD was trying to manipulate the discussion about public broadcasting and was imposing language rules on its employees.
ARD secretary general susanne pfab had already rejected this criticism on thursday: the "framing manual" was intended as an offer to the employees to deal openly with the topic. "How they then communicate is up to each and everyone," she told the german press agency.
Andreas cichowicz, editor-in-chief of television at norddeutscher rundfunk (NDR), tweeted the link to elisabeth wehling’s statement criticizing the paper on monday with the comment "hopefully contributes to objectification". The linguist had shortly before published a "clarification" on her website: her task was to analyze the communication of the public broadcaster ARD as an institution and to show, on the basis of scientific experience, which alternatives to which words are occupied with which meanings, she explained.
There had been corresponding workshops for this purpose, at which she had been present. The "framing manual" was written as an "internal working and discussion document" "in order to have a broad basis of options as to what should and should not be used for any communication measures to be derived from it". Wehling, who holds a doctorate in linguistics from berkeley, california, is considered an expert on framing. Communication scientists understand this to mean, for example, that certain questions or formulations in discussions set the framework for how a topic is discussed.