Jobs vs. Volkswagen

Originally written for socialmedia.lk

We wrote a post earlier about Sri Lankan Government communication during an intense news cycle last week. Having written on the use of framing in communication, I thought it worth pointing out recent and better executed government communication. Specifically, how economic developments were framed 1 in terms of jobs and economic opportunities.

This is particularly important as a number of media and social activists, in their eagerness for “gotcha journalism“, overstated the effect of finding out that Volkswagen was not involved in the Kuliyapitiya factory.

This is not to deny that posts like this generate socialmedia buzz:

and that the consensus on social media is that this is very embarrassing to the government.


Re-framing

Yet, how damaging was this in terms of the government’s communication objectives? Subsequent posts about both this factory opening and others mitigated some of the damage. The reason was that they were framed by the government as a fulfilment of their election commitment to bring jobs into Sri Lanka.

When assessing if this was a truly damaging incident for the government, the real questions that should be asked are:

  • To what audience is this news targeted?
  • What are their priorities?
  • How can negative commentary about this be discredited?

With the aid of correct framing, the answers are:

  • Youth seeking employment.
  • Jobs (and not specifically Volkswagen jobs!).
  • Negativity is not about government credibility, it is about being negative towards economic progress.
Summary
The government was able to reclaim the debate by framing the factory issue about employment rather than the specifics of the companies involved.

Hambantota port strike

Originally written for socialmedia.lk.

The comments here show the disconnect between the mainstream media in Sri Lanka and the public. To the MSM, the issue is about the alleged assault on a journalist; to the public, the issue is about a politically motivated strike to disrupt the attempt to make the port viable in the long-term.

This is not to excuse attacks on journalists or strikers. It is an insight as to how blinkered our journalists. They are in such a frenzy over writing about the implications of what happened, that they don’t factor public opinion into account at all. This gap between the elite MSM media and the public is dangerous, as we have witnessed in America.

What we are witnessing is how, though the media played an agenda-setting role in this event (e.g. this was a serious matter), the actual framing of events was done by the politicians.

For the MSM, the framing was about the freedom of the press but the public viewed it through the frame of an economic progress issue.