Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Peggy Petrzelka

Abstract

There is an oil boom occurring in the United States reminiscent of the production booms of the early 20th century. As the use of unconventional gas and oil extraction practices explode across the US, understanding how the affected public perceives this development is vital. As a major influence on public opinion, understanding the way this development is being framed by interest groups and the news media is an important step in understanding public perceptions. This study utilizes framing theory as a method for investigating how online and print media coverage of this development utilizes the frames promoted by actors on either side of this issue. Content analysis is used to examine national level industry and opposition websites to inductively uncover the thematic frames used by these actors in the public debate surrounding unconventional development. These frames are subsequently used to analyze newspaper articles published in metropolitan cities of Eagle Ford Shale region to discover how these or other frames are utilized in their coverage of the unconventional development occurring in the Eagle Ford Shale. I found that the pro-development frames used by proponent interest groups matched very closely with the pro-development frames used in the news media. Conversely, the way opposition frames are used by the opponent interest groups and in the news media display much more variance. These findings have implications for several theories seeking to explain the influence of interest groups on news coverage. And are important for fully understanding how the perceptions of residents regarding oil and gas activity are formed. While this research did not take the step to compare the news media frames used to the individual frames residents use to understand this activity, it does address a lacuna in the research on unconventional development by examining the way interest groups and the media frame their communications pertaining to the issue.

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Sociology Commons

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