This study (of New York Times articles on fan fiction) provides little evidence that the news media bias parents and administrators against the use of fanfiction in the K-12 classroom. Throughout the narrative, fanfiction is depicted as an increasingly normal (Bazelon 2007), “mainstream” youth practice (Manly 2006, 1).
Since The New York Times does not negatively frame fanfiction literacy practices, why do so many fanfiction scholars and practitioners report that negative discourses about fanfiction hinder classroom literacy initiatives? One possible explanation is that fanfiction scholars have relied too heavily on isolated examples of negative discourses, and have not considered the overall ratio of these negative discourses to positive discourses. For example, Jenkins (1992) refers to several films, television shows, and non-fiction books that negatively depict fans, but Jenkins never provides the size of his entire data set or information about positive depictions. Since Jenkins only presents eleven films in his findings, and does not provide his data collection methodologies, it is difficult to determine the implications or transferability of Jenkins’ study. A parent might view fans negatively if they were to watch all eleven of these films, but what if they were to watch eleven random films that depicted fans?
Based on inconsistencies between this study and other fanfiction research, I recommend that other fanfiction scholars attempt to reproduce these findings by analyzing the discourses of other news media outlets.
Drew Emanuel Berkowitz, Framing the Future of Fanfiction: How The New York Times’ Portrayal of a Youth Media Subculture Influences Beliefs about Media Literacy Education, p205