There was much, much, much talk about it – the Fiscal Cliff. And then it disappeared, to be replaced by less catchy self-made crisis like the sequester.

I’m currently doing a research project on just that: how much talk there really was about it. I was curious as to how the cuts and tax increases behind the term became the name “Fiscal Cliff”. Who decided what to call it? The most puzzling to me was the large amount of media coverage about the term itself. It was constantly being called “the so-called fiscal cliff”, discussed and called into question. In fact, it’s tempting to say – the more sensible the journalist, the more reluctant she/he was to use that name.

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What really amazed me was the amount of very reasonable journalists who openly disliked the term – but ended up being more or less forced? to use it anyway. Which institutional mechanisms were behind the news media’s usage of the term? Why did it seem impossible to avoid it, once it was there?

Here is one of many, many instances – the great Ezra Klein suggests the term “austerity crisis” in stead. (Little did it change – which is just my point.)

The clip is from November 2012 – and in December 2012, Ezra Klein was hosting The Rachel Maddow Show. And he used the term “fiscal cliff” again and again (since the ‘cliff’ was getting ever closer). Why wasn’t it possible to avoid the term? What kind of consequences did the defeat of alternative names have for the public reactions to the crisis?

I’ll use discourse and framing theory and analysis to examine how the cliff was framed, and which institutional causes the defeat of other discourses in the struggle for discourse might have had.

Come back soon to see what I found out! – Are you interested in the same subjects? Then I’d love to hear from you! What’s your theory?