Date of Award:

8-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Jennifer Givens

Committee

Jennifer Givens

Committee

Steve Daniels

Committee

Cathy Bullock

Abstract

Past research has focused on how journalists cover and frame the issue of climate change or global warming in mainly nationally circulated newspapers. This study compares and contrasts the framing of climate change between two nationally circulated newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and three intermountain west community newspapers, Jackson Hole News & Guide in Jackson Hole, WY, Summit Daily in Summit County, CO, and Park Record in Park City, UT. This research incorporates the five generic frames, responsibility, conflict, human-interest, economic consequences, and morality frames defined by Semetko and Valkenburg (2000) when analyzing the newspapers. In addition to comparing between both national and community papers, our research also attempts to analyze the frequency of frame distribution among all five newspapers, whether the use of the frames differs between the years 2011 and 2016, as well as among the three community newspapers themselves. We attempt to answer these questions by first conducting a descriptive analysis that shows the prevalence of the five frames among the newspapers. A chi-square test is used to examine differences between the national and community scales and between the two years and among the three community newspapers. Our findings indicate that there is a statistically significant difference when comparing between national and community as well as between the three community papers, indicating the importance of local context, specifically in media coverage of climate change and in frame analysis more generally. The national newspapers most frequently employed the responsibility frame, followed by the conflict frame, the human-interest frame, and then the economic consequence frame, while the community newspapers most frequently employed the human-interest frame, followed by the responsibility frame. Both the national and community newspapers used the morality frame the least often. This study design allows me to compare newspaper framing of climate change at different scales, over time, and in different contexts. We know that media coverage of climate change is a partisan issue, but community newspapers may be less partisan, so analyzing newspaper coverage at various scales adds to our understanding of media coverage of climate change and how different contexts shape this coverage, which in turn may shape views on climate change.

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