Narrativization of the global financial crisis by the Japanese press
McDougall, Roderick William
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The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2008, culminating in the Lehman Shock on 15th September 2008, has been described as both a “once in a century event” and a “seismic shift” in global economics. Yet despite the exogenous nature of the crisis, it was Japan which felt the greatest impact to its economy. Public understanding and perception of such crises is highly dependent upon news coverage for their dissemination, opinion, and interpretation of unfolding events. However, in doing so, the news media are positioned as powerful gatekeepers dictating how events become populated with meaning and understood within the public consciousness. This is of particular concern to Japan where the kisha club system of journalism has been widely criticised for the cartelisation of information and the homogenization of news coverage. A common methodology to investigate this phenomenon within the field of Communication Research is Media Framing, however this has rarely been applied to non-Western primary sources. Likewise, despite the multidisciplinary nature of Japanese Studies, theories of Communication Research have not been widely used. I address these concerns through a joint quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun over the two-year period following the Lehman Shock, employing Media Frame and Discourse Analysis methodologies. In doing so, I identify not only the narratives employed by the ‘big three’ newspapers of Japan, but also how the metaphor of the Lehman Shock crystalized over time, ready to be applied to subsequent economic crises.